Croatian Disarmament Strategies in the 21st Century: Analysis and Results
In response to a marked increase in the rates of armed violence in the first half of the 2000s, in 2007 the Croatian Ministry of the Interior and the United Nations Development Programme launched a disarmament strategy that consisted of voluntary weapons-collection programmes, legal amnesty, and awareness-raising campaigns. Ten years following its initial implementation, the present study seeks to examine the development of this strategy, assess its performance, and analyse the pertinence and effects of its particular characteristics. To that end, we analyse the context and policies in place, and have applied a series of performance indicators that allow us to evaluate the impact and outcomes of these programmes. The main conclusion of our study is that the joint implementation of the “Citizen Alert” and “Disarmament for Development” voluntary collection programmes, legal amnesty, and the “Less Arms, Less Tragedies” awareness-raising campaigns has had a positive impact on the overall security situation in Croatia. Their implementation has helped produce a marked and steady reduction in the rates of crime and violence, whilst recovering vast quantities of small arms and light weapons, ammunition, and explosives. Moreover, we were unable to find any negative impacts or consequences of their implementation. Nevertheless, it should be noted that their impact on the rates of armed violence cannot be isolated, as these programmes were part of a series of much broader policy changes and structural reforms that took place for over a decade in many areas of government, including the armed forces, the police, and judiciary institutions. The impact of such broad reforms – in an improving socioeconomic context – cannot be understated. However, in combination with a strong disarmament strategy they constituted an indisputable and additional success.