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National firearms strategies and action plans

National firearms legislation is supplemented in some countries with relevant policies and strategies that guide national authorities to consider new threats or technological developments. For that reason, many countries develop a national policy framework, which can identify security risks and other challenges related to firearms, and which is periodically monitored and updated. In this way, any subsequent changes in the policy framework will be reflected through amendments in the national firearms legislation. Such policies can take the form of a roadmap, threat assessment, strategy on firearms, and action plans for their implementation. Often these documents can have regional or national scopes. Sometimes, national action plans are developed in response to the adoption of broader global goals, such as the Sustainable Development Goals, which in its goal 16.4, commits Member States to: "By 2030 significantly reduce illicit (…) arms flows (…) and combat all forms of organized crime". However, more often than not, it is in the framework of regional coordination and cooperation efforts that common approaches and strategies are developed, which are later adapted and transposed at the national level (United Nations, 2015).

An example for this approach is the Western Balkans Roadmap, agreed by the countries in the Western Balkans in July 2018, "for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their ammunition". The roadmap is the result of a broad consultation process and developed with the support of France, Germany, UNDP-SEESAC, UNODC, and other actors on the ground. It represents a consensus by the countries in the region on what are the existing challenges related to firearms; what are their aspirations, formulated as targets that the countries will strive to achieve, and what period will be allocated to undertake all required actions? The Roadmap also contains commitments which the countries make, and a list of indicators that will help to monitor the progress towards reaching the established goals. It identifies the need for strengthening the legislative framework on firearms by bringing it in compliance with the international treaties. Thus, goal 1 of the Roadmap formulates the requirement: " by 2023 ensure that arms control legislation is in place, fully harmonized with the EU regulatory framework and other related international obligations, and standardized across the region." This goal is linked to several targets, which include the establishment of a legal framework to counter all forms of illicit possession, trafficking and misuse of firearms, ammunition, and explosives, the establishment of a legal framework for manufacturers of firearm, ammunition and explosives, and harmonization of the firearms control legislation with the EU legal framework and the existing international agreements. The progress towards achieving the targets under the Roadmap are monitored through fourteen indicators. The indicator under goal 1 monitors the " number of legal frameworks on arms control throughout the Western Balkans fully harmonized with the EU legislation, the Arms Trade Treaty and the Firearms Protocol".

The African Union has also adopted a Strategy on the Control of Illicit Proliferating, Circulation and Trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons, which sets specific objectives for the African countries, establishes guiding principles and strategic orientation for the implementation of the strategy, and defines the implementation mechanism. The European Union has also adopted a Strategy against illicit Firearms, Small Arms and Light Weapons and their Ammunition "Securing Arms, Protecting Citizens", which identifies several areas of intervention and specific activities that will be supported, including promotion of the ratification and implementation of international legal instruments. In Central America, firearms control issues have been incorporated in the work of the Central American Integration System (SICA) through the adoption of the Central American Security Strategy. It contains a dedicated chapter on the fight against illicit arms trafficking, which sets specific objectives and activities to address this issue.

At the national level, many countries have adopted national strategies or action plans to address firearms control. In Albania, the Government adopted in 2019 a National Strategy on Small Arms and Light Weapons to ensure and monitor the fulfilment of Albania's obligations under different international conventions and documents of firearms control. In 2010, Ghana adopted a National Plan of Action on Small Arms (NPoA), which is a comprehensive document to guide the decision-makers in establishing the national firearms regulations. It is based on the needs and objectives identified as a result of the national baseline survey and stemming from the obligations of Ghana as a party to various regional and national firearms control instruments. The NPoA covers several strategic areas: policy, legislation, infrastructure and capacity linked to firearms control, border control and management, stockpile and inventory management, and education and awareness. In 2017, the Ministry of Interior of Peru launched the national Integral Plan against Illicit Possession of Firearms, with specific actions, including the review of licences, anti-trafficking operations, collection programmes, etc. In 2016, Guatemala adopted a Strategy for Firearms, Ammunition and Explosives Control, which establishes a national coordination mechanism to address these issues. Brazil adopted in 2019 a Strategy of Public Security and Social Defence, which foresees, among others, developing partnerships with international arms control agencies, ensuring individual marking of ammunition, implementing a national ballistic identification system and training public safety personnel to identify and track firearms and ammunition.

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