TASK FORCE STATUS: From 2000 to 2005, then RACVIAC took over
One of the key challenges facing the defence sector of South East Europe is how to restructure and downsize military forces adapting them to the new security situation and the economic realities of the SEE region. The challenges associated with defense conversion are an integral part of overall Security Sector Reform in countries concerned. Defense and Security Sector Reform remains a key component for some countries to move closer towards the EU and NATO. Defense and Security Sector Reform, including defense conversion, represents a crucial dimension of much wider transformation processes, so it has to be dealt within the context of overall socio-economic development, reconstruction and social development policies. As a consequence, national ministries, agencies and institutions involved in social and economic policies should participate from the beginning in defining and implementing defence conversion strategies and projects.
In general, the following main components of defence conversion could be distinguished: a) retraining of redundant military personnel, b) conversion of military bases and facilities, c) redundant military stockpiles; selling or destruction of surplus military equipment and weapons, d) restructuring/downsizing of military industries as well as the redirection of military research and development.
NATO – as the Task Force leader of the Stability Pact Initiative on Defence Conversion - focuses on the monitoring of programs concerning the retraining of redundant military personnel and conversion of military sites in SEE countries. Several NATO members have undertaken bilateral programs in the region that address some of these challenges, including retraining of defence sector personnel and destruction of ammunition and SALW. NATO members are also working with partners in the region to enhance their ability to cooperate with the Alliance.
Apart from NATO activities in the above-mentioned fields, a lot of other international actors (namely DCAF, BICC, IOM, OSCE, UNDP, WB, CoEDB as well as some local NGOs) are active in particular in the field of demobilisation and retraining of redundant military personnel. The Working Group on Demobilisation and Reintegration chaired and funded by DCAF since November 2002 has helped to streamline several reintegration and retraining programs in the Western Balkan countries.
Enhanced cooperation between SEECP countries is important. All countries in the region are confronted with major security sector reform programs, which are moving ahead at different speeds. Therefore, the willingness exists to strengthen role of the Zagreb-based Regional Arms Control Verification and Implementation Assistance Centre (RACVIAC as a regional centre for defense conversion (Read more on RACVIAC's role in Defence Conversion). Moreover, SEECP Defence Ministers, facing similar challenges, amongst others, with regards to the destruction of surplus military weapons and ammunition, requested, in March 2005, the South Eastern Europe Clearinghouse for the Control of Small Arms and Light Weapons (SEESAC) - a joint Stability Pact and UNDP initiative- to provide technical and managerial know-how in this area. In order to further stimulate the discussions, SEESAC has prepared an initial study, which deals with the disposal and demilitarization of heavy weapons systems. [Link to study paper]
||Documents: Defence Conversion
||Documents: Security Sector Reform
The Director of the WT III, Mr. Pieter Verbeek, delivered a speech at the "European Union Presidency Seminar on Security Sector Reform (SSR) in the Western Balkans", organised by the Austrian EU Presidency in Vienna on 13-14 February 2006. (Link to speech - More on the Seminar)
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