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Filed under: Peace and security

Weapons collection and destruction projects in Bosnia and Herzegovina are taking a fresh approach to raising awareness.

The Small Arms and Light Weapons (SALW) collection and Explosive Ordnance Destruction (EXPLODE) initiatives are driven by the country’s ambition to eliminate excess weapon stockpiles and remove illicit weapons from public hands.

This is a serious undertaking: there are over 750,000 illicit weapons in Bosnia and Herzegovina and more than 17,000 tonnes of excess ammunition in the region. In addition to demonstrating the sheer scale of the issue, these figures emphasize how sensitive weapons removal projects must be.

We were particularly concerned with the visual branding of our campaigns to collect and destroy weapons and ammunition – often overlooked in project development.

The arms collection project, which is being carried out by many local and regional organizations, needs support from all regional partners, and from the multitude of people who possess weapons.

The campaign needed to cut across all parts of society and appeal to a wide range of mindsets. To us, this meant taking an original approach.

Illicit weapon campaigns have been carried out around the globe, sometimes using the darker side of weapons collection – grotesque images of blood and violence – to gain visibility. We decided instead on a wide-reaching campaign that contrasts weapons against positive themes, inviting people to embrace the positive results of the project.

A defragmentation grenade coupled with a cherry

Be on the right side, choose life without weapons

The EXPLODE project has a more specific scope: It’s carried out primarily at the TROM military facility in Doboj and has received 3,837,830 euros from the European Union.

The way we present our information is crucial because in the right format it can help expand and maintain awareness of the project – with the potential of making communities safer to live in.

For this reason we chose infographics, which display information using eye-catching fonts, colors and shapes.

Infographics work best as large format billboards or posters, hanging in places like the European Union Delegation offices, United Nations House or the Ministry of Defense.

We also used factsheets to provide project details and increase outreach, once again taking care to merge content with visual appeal.

We decided on three complementary factsheets to be released at different times, rather than one standard version, to encourage ongoing interest throughout the duration of the project.

infographic

One of three EXPLODE factsheets

The success of SALW collection and EXPLODE can be seen as a process of trial and error, in a continual effort to optimize every facet of the projects. Treating the visual branding of the campaign as an integral part of our work had a surprising outcome: in addition to opening up valuable dialogue about the importance of project visibility, we found that this approach leads to innovation in all areas.

We all have our own styles of expressing and retaining knowledge – visual or aural, theoretical or hands-on – and being able to share ideas and clearly relay information is crucial to our personal and social development.

The key is to recognize that the world around us is constantly changing, embrace new tools when they become available and anticipate new challenges.

See our latest updates on the EXPLODE project:

  • Ivan Zverzhanovski

    Thanks for this really interesting post! I am happy to see that so much thought has gone into designing primarily the campaign visual materials. As you correctly note, there were many such campaigns globally and the awareness raising tools are often vivid – although I would not call them grotesque. More importantly the use of these tools usually tends to evolve through a process of continuous fine-tuning of the direction and message as the campaign moves ahead. The experience from Croatia, by many accounts the most successful such campaign, is an excellent example of this. While the later images were, as you note “grotesque”, the early ones were very much down the path chosen by the BiH campaign (http://www.mup.hr/96853.aspx). So, I look forward to seeing the impact of the visual materials and wish you and the team all the success in supporting the BiH authorities in this crucial endeavor.