EU Commission & UNODC Firearms to host a half-day Webinar on Firearms Trafficking in Europe

Vienna, 17 September 2020 - In a joint effort to unveil common lines of action, the European Commission and UNODC’s Global Firearms Programme organized today a Webinar on Firearms Trafficking: Policy Implications and Responses in Europe, a specialized approach to the phenomenon in the EU. The aim of the event was to yield new recommendations and lines of action, based on the 2020 Global Study of Firearms Trafficking and other regional studies on the subject.

With a view to tackling new modalities of organized crime involving the illicit trafficking of firearms within the European continent, the European Union adopted the 2020-2025 EU Action Plan on Illicit Firearms Trafficking last July, which identifies priorities on four different fronts:

  • Securing the legal framework to reduce risks of diversion of firearms from the legal to the black market;
  • Improving knowledge of the threat, addressing the lack of comparable statistics on firearms events and seizures across the EU;
  • Reinforcing law enforcement to stop the traffickers;
  • Stepping up international cooperation, with a strong set of activities focussing on south-east Europe.

The experts’ forum served as the launching platform of the Regional Analysis on Illicit Trafficking in Firearms, their Parts, Components and Ammunition to, from and across the European Union, which draws upon the need to prevent, combat and eradicate diverse criminal modalities that bring about harmful effects on the security of each Member State individually, and the EU as a whole.

Illicit manufacturing, trafficking and misuse of firearms represent a serious threat to security and social stability, and a serious impediment to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)”, Mr. John Brandolino, Director of UNODC’s Division for Treaty Affairs noted today during the event inauguration. “The various problems caused by the spread of illicit firearms have led the EU to recognise their destabilising effect on regional and national security”.

The EU Senior Expert on Organised Crime and Firearms Mr. Jorge Bento Silva concluded that “this webinar expressed the convergence of views and complementarity of actions between numerous actors in the EU and UN families, and was a fine example of “multilateralism at work” on a challenge which no country or region can effectively address separately”.

The Firearms policy-design concept, in retrospective

Firearms constitute important multipliers of crime and violence, not only as instruments of armed violence and as a lucrative trafficking commodity, but also as catalysts that aggravate the impact and damage caused by other serious crimes, such as organized crime, drug trafficking or terrorism.

Findings of the  Global Study on Firearms Trafficking 2020 have helped draw several conclusions and implications, suggesting diverse implementation avenues for policy makers and criminal justice practitioners in the global fight against organized crime.

The relationship between these interconnected threats to security accentuates the crosscutting nature of the use of firearms, and highlights the necessity to address this problem from a holistic and comprehensive perspective”, stated Mrs. Simonetta Grassi, Senior Crime Prevention and Criminal Justice Officer and Head of UNODC’s Global Firearms Programme.

Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) also have a negative impact on the security of many countries, threatening their transitions towards economic, developmental and political stability. The 2024 Roadmap for a sustainable solution to the illegal possession, misuse and trafficking of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) and their ammunition in the Western Balkans aims to put in place comprehensive and sustainable mechanisms, fully harmonised with European and other international standards, to identify, prevent, prosecute, and control this phenomenon in the southeastern European region.

A key forum providing near-future recommendations 

The second part of the webinar focused on policy conclusions and responses, drawing recommendations for further actions that emanate from research findings. Participants exchanged views around topics such as:

  • Policy implications of ongoing research for Europe and the world.
  • Key areas of intervention to strengthen the justice response and international cooperation
  • Building enhanced capacities at country level to strengthen intelligence and common border cooperation
  • National experiences and best practices.
  • Implementation of the EU Plan of Action in the context of SDG 16.4.

A final Q&A session delved into the magnitude and location of seizures, as well as the types of firearms that are most frequently seized. Other discussion blocks included a review of illicit firearms trafficking modalities across international borders and within countries; trafficking within some selected countries with known, sizable domestic firearms trafficking flows, and the wider landscape describing linkages between firearms trafficking, drug trafficking, violent crime and terrorism.

For more information about the webinar please visit: 

The event was jointly organized by the EU Commission and United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.