As a result of rapid political changes and reduced military forces and budgets, some OSCE participating States lack sufficient financial and technical resources to secure and manage their stockpiles of small arms and light weapons and ammunition, and to deal with their surpluses. To help solve these problems, the FSC has developed a mechanism under which participating States can request assistance to collect and destroy small arms and ammunition, and to improve stockpile management and security.
This assistance mechanism is simple and effective. A participating State in need of help submits a request for assistance to the FSC either directly, or through an OSCE field operation. In response, the FSC mandates a team of experts to independently assess the requesting State’s challenges with small arms and/or ammunition. Based on this assessment, the FSC then consolidates support from other participating States willing to offer such assistance. This assistance mechanism is put into action on a voluntary basis. In other words, participating States request and provide assistance on a voluntary basis.
Between 2003 and 2010, the OSCE received more than 30 assistance requests from more than a dozen participating States. The Organization used its technical and managerial expertise, as well as substantial financial resources provided voluntarily by participating States, to take on complex and high-risk projects.
OSCE assistance projects on small arms and ammunition cover a wide geographical range, contributing to security within and across States. Below are some examples of the projects implemented under the aegis of the Forum for Security Co-operation.
The destruction of more than 320 Man-Portable Air Defence Systems in Cyprus eliminated the risk of these deadly weapons falling into the hands of criminal or terrorist groups. Each weapon of this kind is capable of downing an airplane within a four-km range with a single shot.
In Tajikistan, the OSCE destroyed 26,000 seized small arms and more than 30 tonnes of surplus ammunition. The Organization also helped Tajik authorities develop local expertise to upgrade safety and security measures, and built new storage facilities to reduce the risk of explosions and unauthorized access.
In Belarus, the OSCE, together with the United Nations Development Programme, helped reduce the risk of proliferation of SALW by improving safety measures at 16 storage sites.
In Ukraine, the OSCE began a project in 2008 to eliminate 16,000 tonnes of a toxic liquid rocket fuel component that poses a threat to the environment and human life. The fuel, which had been stored in deteriorating vats, could have filled four Olympic-sized swimming pools – while a leak of just one large bathtub's worth would kill anyone within 200 meters.