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Filed under: Climate change Peace and security

Men from the army behind a pile of collected illegal weapons

More than 1,500 pieces of small arms and light weapons were collected and destroyed at the end of December, Banja Luka

There were close to half a million soldiers during the war fighting for their cause, and there are an estimated quarter of a million illegally possessed weapons circulating in the country today. How do we fight the war against the remnants of war? How do we ‘peace-together’ the process?

At the end of 2013, over 1,500 small arms and light weapons were destroyed – helping to wash away some of the stain on the country’s history. Choose Life Without Weapons, a campaign funded by the UK Government and guided by the International Small Arms Standards, collected weapons from different areas around the nation.

Welder with mask bends down as he destroys guns, sparks fly

Citizens are choosing life without weapons

The weapons collected were of different age and quality; some had etchings, initials and symbols marked into them. Surrounded by more weapons than many are likely to see in their lifetime you begin to imagine how these weapons got here, what they were used for, by who?

Instead of seeing them as objects, you begin to realize them as possessions. These weapons once came into the country to protect or attack but for whichever reason, many of these took the rights of people away and for many people these were that last things they saw.

Those who handed in these weapons are responsible for ensuring that they do not fall into anyone else’s hands or end anymore lives. Perhaps this will save someone’s life.

Silhouette of a man in front of a fire (smelter) and contraption to grab guns to destroy

“We will continue this activity and I want to … invite all citizens to join the action and submit weapons they illegally possess, since this will improve safety of all people,” said RS Minister of Interior, Radislav Jovičić.

The thousands of households and individuals that turned in weapons were doing so for their own reasons. Whether it was to rid them of a burden, a piece of scrap metal or to spare anyone from coming into contact with these weapons, we will never know. But by handing over their weapons they gave something to the entire country. Handing over these weapons reminds us of everyone’s right to life and no one’s right to steal it.

How many people have we helped with by destroying over 1,500 weapons? How many nations have been spared from conflict or crime? We will never know. But one life taken is one too many and a single life saved from violence is progress.

Scrappy metal gets second, green life

Metal that was forged to create systems of violence have been transformed into components for promoting sustainable energy. The weapons are melted down and used for the production of wind mills. They came out of conflict, but are now helping to combat climate change.

Despite these laudable intentions, the remnants of war are winning. They may not be winning in Bosnia and Herzegovina, but in many other regions all over the world they remain prevalent. We must stand firm in prompting these actions on a global scale.

  • Hyunjoo

    What a great change for life! Love the concept, the cause and especially the poster!