SALIENT | The Savings Lives Entity

SALIENT is a United Nations funding facility, located within the Peacebuilding Fund, which is dedicated to supporting Member States tackle armed violence and illicit small arms and light weapons as part of a comprehensive approach to sustainable security and development. Informed by more than twenty years of experience on small arms control and armed violence prevention by the United Nations Office of Disarmament Affairs (UNODA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), SALIENT offers the international community a new vehicle for sustained financing of small arms control measures in settings that have been most affected. By supporting catalytic activities to mainstream small arms control in both development and security efforts, SALIENT responds to the multi-faceted nature of the illicit proliferation of small arms and light weapons and addresses root causes of armed violence. Current supporters of SALIENT are: Finland, France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand, Sweden and Switzerland.


Easily available illicit small arms disrupt communities across the globe. Armed violence perpetuated with them kills and maims scores of people every hour. It rips the social fabric of communities and makes public health costs soar. It is a major reason why people flee their homes and a key cause of food insecurity. It undermines social and economic development – the threat of armed violence is an important factor behind businesses deciding not to invest in a country. Illicit firearms threaten electoral processes, erode police authority, and hinder peacekeeping. They facilitate sexual violence and the recruitment of child soldiers. Countries where weapons are poorly controlled consistently struggle to make progress on their development goals.

Within the United Nations, more than twenty entities deal with the problems posed by the proliferation of illicit small arms in a variety of contexts, including arms regulation, human rights, counter-terrorism, peacekeeping, humanitarian aid, aviation safety, economic development, refugees, public health, organized crime, gender and children’s rights.

However, short-term and compartmentalized funding streams to address various aspects of small arms control are not keeping up with the seriousness and magnitude of the problem. In the most affected countries this issue needs sustained, integrated funding, providing all stakeholders – governments, donors, implementers – with more opportunity, more coherence, and more return on investment.

Policy Directives

Over the past two decades, the colossal problem of the diversion, illicit ownership and misuse of small arms has seen sound progress in
global policy-setting:

SALIENT offers governments and the UN system a way to follow through with these commitments.

Sustained Financing & Partnerships

Established within the UN Peacebuilding Fund, SALIENT is designed to prioritize national ownership and to foster collaboration on comprehensive approaches to small arms control as well as open new doors for sustainable financing.

In contrast to traditional project-based approaches, SALIENT is intended to be the common framework through which the UN addresses armed violence and small arms and light weapons issues on the ground. It will enable affected states to tackle small arms issues through innovative, integrated, multi-dimensional programmes and as part of wider development plans.

Transformative Impact

SALIENT provides a singular entry point to address all dimensions of the illicit small arms problem. Practical arms control and armed-violence-reduction measures (e.g., weapons collection and destruction) are combined and reinforced with adequate legal and policy frameworks, institutional arrangements (e.g., national commissions, national action plans), proper stockpile management, safer humanitarian space, education and awareness-raising, law enforcement measures and capacity building (including in weapons marking, record-keeping and tracing), data- and evidence collection and analysis.

Responses aim not only to address specific problems, but also to change cultural attitudes and perceptions regarding small arms and armed violence, including involving women in decision-making, and addressing masculinity in reference to gun ownership. SALIENT commits to channelling at least 30% of its programme funds to gender-related activities and has a Project Gender Marker score of 2, reflecting that gender equality is identified a significant objective.

National and Local Engagement

National ownership and engagement by host country governments and their benefitting communities is crucial for the success of SALIENT programmes – from design to implementation to monitoring and evaluation. In addition, the Resident Coordinator will have a vital role in ensuring that UN agencies are able to coordinate to enact an intervention that responds to national priorities.

Technical inputs, advisory support from and collaboration with civil society partners will be sought, including to inform SALIENT’s programmatic decisions and ensure coherence.  

Fundraising Target

Pilot programmes in two to three pilot countries are being established at the start of its operations. 

SALIENT aims to raise at least $12 million per year and work in many more of the most illicit-small-arms-affected countries.

Added Value

  • Sovereignty-enhancing, cross-sectional, and sustained support to diminish the destructive consequences of illicit small-arms trade and firearms misuse
  • Focused implementation of SDG 16.4 to “significantly reduce illicit arms flows”, filling the current scarcity of development-relevant work on this target
  • Sustained attention to countries most eager to improve their small arms situation
  • High levels of ownership in recipient states and meaningful donor involvement in strategic direction
  • Efficient use of funds, with low overhead costs
  • More coordination, better insight in developments and trends, and less duplication.