The OSCE Mission in Kosovo (OMIK) promotes human rights, good governance and the safety of all people living within the jurisdiction, through monitoring and supporting the work of local institutions. OMIK, established in 1999, is one of the OSCE's largest field operations. OMIK has supported the growth of the local police services in accordance with relevant international standards in the fields of preventing and combating organized and trans-border crimes, including the illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons and global security and the fight against terrorism through technical skills over the last two decades, primarily through its targeted activities, complimentary programme development, delivery of matching and supporting promotional strategies. OMIK has assisted the internal security sector in the development of several workable and sustainable strategies to combat various crimes and fostering the process of exchange of experiences and best practices and creating synergy effects on the relevant issues, both regionally and in the international contexts. The Mission supported co-operation with other OSCE Missions aimed at establishing and co-ordinating Joint Working Groups on preventing cross border offences such as terrorism, organized crime, drugs, trafficking in human beings, smuggling of small arms and light weapons and financial crimes, as well as supporting co-operation and co-ordination in targeted activities with various OSCE Secretariat structures. Besides increasing the operational management capacities of the Police Service in combating all aspects of trans-border crimes, support was also provided for the development and implementation of specific and targeted strategies to tackle transnational threats, organized crime and terrorism. OMIK placed special emphasis on monitoring and supporting the efforts of the Police Service to promote a participatory and effective public safety institutional approach to ensure the inclusion of all communities, women, youth and other under-represented groups in safety and security processes. This was achieved by supporting advocacy and outreach with not only the relevant representatives of Police Services but also the local communities and civil society organizations.
Criminal activities of organised crime groups in the Western Balkans (WB) became more sophisticated with respect to misuse and trafficking of SALW originating or transiting the region towards Western and Northern Europe. The fight against these crime groups is becoming more complex, and demands a more coordinated and joint engagement of different specialised law enforcement units and institutions. As identified by numerous Serious and Organised Crime Threat Assessments (SOCTA), the crime groups are smuggling firearms from and through the region. Furthermore, continued and widespread availability and misuse of small arms and light weapons pose a serious threat to the safety and well being of civil population. Criminality—and especially crime committed with firearms—remain to be a concern.
From July 2018 until January 2019 WB authorities were engaged in developing their respective plans of action that would help them address the Goals and Key Performance Indicators agreed in the Roadmap, as per the 10 July 2018 EU-WB Summit in London the leaders of the WB. In that process improved detection of SALW, ammunition and explosives by the K-9 units of the law enforcement services has been identified as one of the prioritised areas that could significantly improve their response to the challenge of trafficking of SALW, ammunition and explosives. To address this significant challenge, the OSCE Mission in Kosovo is implementing a tailored Extra Budgetary Project no. 2101100 titled: "Support to strengthening of the Canine (K9) capacity of the Police Services to detect and confiscate SALW, ammunition and explosives".
Through its work, over the course of the last two decades, the OMIK has provided systematic support to law enforcement actors in building their capability to better uphold and enforce the law, including the challenges related to SALW control. The Mission engaged at both the strategic and operational levels to assist the Police Service to better formulate and address their needs in relation to the illicit trafficking of SALW. Support was provided to the development and implementation of a stronger legal framework to ensure more efficient and effective prosecuting and adjudicating of SALW misuse and trafficking. These activities included assistance in the designing of strategies and action plans to address the issue of SALW trafficking, including increasing transparency measures and the exchange of SALW related information with other relevant actors both nationally and at the regional level. At the operational level, the activities were aimed at framing training objectives and providing advanced and specialized training for a multi-year time period on a number of topics in relation to combating organized crime and terrorism, as well as through awareness-raising and community outreach activities and community-oriented policing to support capacity-building in the public safety and security sector. These activities also included addressing the security and safety risks related to illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of SALW.