Wednesday, October 16, 2002


Pristina, Kosovo: On 16 October 2002, the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK) convened the first meeting of the Steering Committee of the Illicit Small Arms Control Project. This meeting brought together the Commander of KFOR (the Kosovo NATO-led international force responsible for establishing and maintaining security in Kosovo), a representative from the Prime Minister's Office, Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Police & Justice within UNMIK, representatives from the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UNMIK Police Commissioner, to begin a dialogue on the control and reduction of illicit weapons in Kosovo.

The illegal possession and unlawful use of small arms is generally recognized as a significant destabilizing factor, particularly in post-conflict societies still grappling with enduring social and community divisions. The Steering Committee was formed to ensure a co-ordinated approach in addressing the problems associated with illicit weapons in Kosovo. The Steering Committee will oversee the establishment of a regulatory framework for the legal possession of hunting and recreational weapons and the development of a strategic Plan of Action to address all aspects of illicit weapon control and reduction.

This process is supported directly by the UNMIK-UNDP Illicit Small Arms Control (ISAC) Project, which will initiate a Kosovo-wide public awareness campaign, seek resources for weapons destruction, build the capacity of civil society and police to address illicit weapons, and bring further resources to bear on voluntary weapons collection initiatives.

Said Robert Piper, UNDP Resident Representative: "UNDP is responding to the undeniable reality that where guns dominate, development suffers. Kosovo must not become a statistic in a long-line-up of failed societies where insecurity arrests development, or worse, turns the clock backwards. Present gains have been hard-won, by the people of Kosovo and its friends from the international community. Today, therefore, is an important day as we launch a broad partnership to prevent Kosovo from joining the ranks of those whose development is arrested by insecurity and violence."

The possession of illicit weapons is a difficult and sensitive issue in Kosovo, but one the United Nations and a growing number of Kosovans recognize is key to sustainable development and prosperity. The formation of the ISAC Steering Committee is another step towards enduring peace without fear of small arms-related violence.