Promoting use of SALW deactivation standards

Project Info
OSCE Region
1 September 2018 - 15 August 2023
Gender Marker

The project is managed by the Project Support Officer, with support of existing resources in the CPC/FSC Support Unit. All personnel arrangements will be conducted in accordance with the OSCE Common Regulatory Management System, with regard to OSCE Staff Regulations and Staff Rules (DOC.SEC/3/03 from September 2003, updated on 6 July 2018).


This project will be executed by the CPC FSC Support Unit. Organization of workshops is supported by the OSCE field operations, when possible.


Project Objective is to support the participating States in applying the SALW deactivation standards, approaches and procedures in their efforts combating the diversion and the illicit transfers of SALW. Project also contributes to the following Unified Budget Programme Objective: To support participating States in strengthening confidence and security, as well as in responding to political and security developments in the OSCE area and ensure effective co-operation with external stakeholders.

It is also worth mentioning that this project contributes to the following Sustainable Developments Goals:

  • Goal 5: Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls;
  • Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels;
  • Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development.

The project particularly contributes to targets 5.1, 5.5 and 5.c, as it includes gender equality in the conduct of the workshop. It also addresses targets 16.1, 16.4, 16.1 and 16.a, as the project is part of the OSCE’s efforts to counter the illicit trafficking of SALW and transnational organized crime. Furthermore, the project also seeks synergies and co-operation with the UN, which relates to targets 17.16 and 17.18.


This project contributes to the OSCE's efforts in SALW controls and fight against illicit SALW trafficking as well as supports co-operation and coordination among participating States in implementation of the Ministerial Council Decision No. 10/17, which inter alia tasked the FSC to complement the existing OSCE measures aimed at addressing the illicit trafficking of SALW and to continue improving the efficiency and outcome of SALW and SCA projects to ensure the maximum possible value in dealing with the challenges associated with SALW and SCA.


Activity 1: CPC/FSC Support Unit organizes regional capacity building, awareness raising and training events on SALW deactivation in the South Eastern and Eastern European as well as Central Asian regions where the standards on SALW deactivation and controls need to be promoted to effectively address illicit trafficking of SALW.

The awareness and capacity is increased through regional approach providing for pooled resources, coordinated efforts, similar experience and best practices, as well as maximizing common output. This activity will also ensure that the regional stakeholders are more effective at addressing issues of a collective concern.


Project developed a Risk management plan designed to address a range of identified risks.  


Background And Justification

Proliferation of SALW poses a serious threat to stability and security in the OSCE area. Illicit trafficking of SALW fuels transnational organized crime. Small arms and improvised explosive devices are used by terrorists. Such criminal acts and attacks are not only a threat to safety and security of people, but also a tool for destabilizing the societies. The use of only few weapons can lead to the loss of life of many innocent people.

In line with the OSCE Document on Small Arms and Light Weapons adopted in 2000 (reissued in 2012, FSC.DOC/1/00/Rev.1, 20 June 2012), participating States agreed that deactivation of small arms will be carried out only in such a way as to render all essential parts of the weapon permanently inoperable and therefore incapable of being removed, replaced or modified in a way that might permit the weapon to be reactivated

In line with international standards and commitments adopted within the United Nations, the OSCE has undertaken the efforts in addressing illicit trafficking and the threat posed by the illicit conversion, transformation or reactivation of SALW and in establishing a reliable barrier to prevent diversion and leakage of small arms into the illegal market, the OSCE has developed and approved at the FSC the Best Practice Guide on the Deactivation of SALW on 21 February 2018 (FSC.DEC/1/18/Corr.2). In 2020, the Guide was reviewed and updated to ensure that it remains relevant and applicable. In recognition of the importance of ensuring irreversible SALW deactivation, the OSCE minimum standards have been strengthened by a number of technical updates for rendering SALW and their essential parts permanently inoperable (FSC.DEC/4/20 dated 30 September 2020).

Following the FSC decisions endorsing the OSCE Best Practice Guide on SALW Deactivation  and its update, it was presented at the Third UN Conference (RevCon3) to Review Progress made in the implementation of the Programme of Action (PoA) to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the illicit trade in SALW in all its aspects and its International Tracing Instrument taking place in June 2018 in New York and at the 7th UN Biennial Meeting of States on PoA held from 26 to 30 July 2021 in New York. The Outcome document of the RevCon3 encourages the inter-governmental organizations to further promote their regional efforts and contribute actively to capacity building of the participating States in this area[1].

The OSCE Best Practice Guide on SALW Deactivation suggests minimum standards, approaches and procedures to ensure the permanent deactivation of SALW, and provides recommendations on how to incorporate these into national norms and legislation. The Guide details concrete measures for the participating States recommended in marking, record-keeping, and tracing, as well as also set out technical specifications for the deactivation of SALW.

This Guide is also based on EU regulations[1] and essentially supports SALW controls that require close collaboration not only with the EU, but also the UN and the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) that regulates the international trade in conventional arms and seeks to prevent and eradicate illicit trade and diversion of conventional arms by establishing international standards governing arms transfers. The co-operation in common efforts and seeking synergies in SALW controls, in particular SALW deactivation, supports and contributes to international and regional peace, security and stability, reducing human suffering, and promoting co-operation, transparency and responsible action among the inter- national community.

Moreover, in order to seek synergies and co-operation with the United Nations, the project suggests joint UN/OSCE participation in activities to facilitate complementarity in implementing Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the illicit trade in SALW, in particular, SALW controls and best practices to ensure irreversible deactivation.


[1] OSCE’s statement at the RevCon3 noted that “the OSCE will further promote the Guide and make use of it by integrating its aspects into capacity-building and training events as well as assistance projects that promote the application of deactivation standards in the OSCE area and beyond.”


One of the conclusions of the CPC analysis on common national practices in the OSCE area in the deactivation of SALW, conducted in September 2016, and from the FSC meeting on SALW Deactivation organized on 30 March 2017 in Vienna; was that the deactivation standards vary greatly in the OSCE area and there is no unified application of deactivation standards. Following the adoption of common minimum standards of SALW deactivation at the FSC on 21 February 2018, the workshops will raise awareness and increase understanding of deactivation and its standards that will facilitate their application and incorporation in the legislation of respective participating States as well as in the OSCE SALW/SCA assistance projects. Since the Best practice guide is also based on the EU standards, the workshops will be most beneficial to the regions striving to align their legislation also with the EU regulations, such as the South Eastern Europe, as well as the regions where the OSCE SALW/SCA assistance projects are conducted, such as the Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

With regard to the South Eastern and Eastern Europe, the project has a direct support to Franco-German joint initiative to develop and implement the Roadmap and facilitate National Action Plan Process on illicit firearms trafficking and comprehensive SALW control in the Western Balkans.

In 2020, the BPG on Deactivation of SALW (FSC.DEC/4/20) has been reviewed and updated to remain relevant and applicable. Recognizing the importance of ensuring irreversible SALW deactivation, the OSCE minimum standards have been strengthened by a number of technical updates for rendering SALW and its essential parts permanently inoperable.

Recent academic research has supported presented evidence that high availability of illicit firearms contributes to higher levels of domestic violence as well as violence against women. Reducing the number of illicit firearms, to which reactivated firearms belong, will therefore have a positive effect on the reduction of gender based violence.

This project contributes to OSCE’s efforts in SALW controls and fight against illicit SALW trafficking, aimed at reducing illicit arms flows and at establishing a reliable barrier to prevent diversion and leakage of small arms into the illegal market.


[1] The European Commission Implementing Regulations 2015/2403 and 2018/337.

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Awareness raising event on SALW deactivation in South Eastern Europe
Side event at the Ministerial Council, Milan, Italy, 2018
Awareness raising event on SALW deactivation in Eastern Europe
Side event at the at the Second High-Level Meeting of the Franco-German Coordination Initiative
Awareness raising and training on SALW deactivation in St. Étienne Proof House
Awareness raising event on SALW deactivation in Central Asia