The illicit proliferation of conventional weapons and the accidental explosions of stockpiles of aged and/or deteriorating munitions can cause grave humanitarian disasters, which can destabilize individual countries or entire regions. The Regional Approach to Stockpile Reduction (RASR) initiative seeks to eliminate threats posed by excess, dangerously stored, poorly secured, unstable, or otherwise hazardous stockpiles of conventional weapons and munitions in Southeast Europe.
RASR engages the expertise of the Office of Weapons Removal and Abatement in the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs (PM/WRA), the U.S. Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the U.S. European Command, along with the Slovenia-based ITF Enhancing Human Security, the NATO Support Agency, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, RACVIAC Center for Security Cooperation, South Eastern and Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons, Small Arms Survey, and the Swiss Implementation and Verification Unit of the Swiss Army.
RASR held its inaugural workshop in Zagreb, Croatia in May 2009. In attendance were Southeastern European government officials who have authority over the management of their countries’ stockpiles, along with officials from relevant donor government agencies and various experts on arms and munitions issues. As a result of this workshop, RASR identified five priority issues related to stockpile reduction:
Five more RASR workshops occurred between 2009 and 2013 with the most recent being held in Bled, Slovenia. Some of the workshops have included field visits to military logistical facilities and a demilitarization factory. The 2013 workshop was the first to include participants at the Deputy Minister of Defense level. Representatives from the United States and European states who participate in these RASR workshops have the opportunity to network and build professional relationships, share practices and lessons learned, encourage regional stockpile reduction efforts that leverage economies of scale, obtain information on technical and financial assistance, and contribute to regional stability.