Belgium contributes to the fight against illicit arms trafficking in North Macedonia

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sophie Wilmès has decided to grant a voluntary contribution of 400,000 euros to the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) for a programme to combat illicit arms trafficking in North Macedonia. Illicit arms trafficking from the Balkans remains a major concern for Belgium in order to ensure security in Europe and the region.

The fight against illicit arms trafficking in the Balkans requires better detection capabilities by law enforcement agencies in the countries of the region. In response to these challenges, the OSCE has launched a project in Northern Macedonia that involves the training of canine units capable of detecting the smell of gunshot residue or explosives. The project, which runs until 2023, also includes a component on improving internal co-ordination within the North Macedonian security services and a component on regional co-ordination. Finally, a third component focuses on raising public awareness of the risks associated with illicit firearms and their proliferation. The gender approach is integrated into the project, both in the participation in the training and in the content of the awareness-raising sessions, notably on the role played by firearms in gender-based violence.   

This contribution by Belgium is in line with the commitments made in the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including goal 16 which aims to promote peaceful and inclusive societies. Indicator 16.4 of this goal 16 specifically includes the significant reduction of illicit arms flows by 2030.