Sri Lankan police revitalizes stockpile management practices

April 2nd, 2024

One of the main sources of diversion of small arms and light weapons into illicit markets is from inadequately managed stockpiles, from which weapons are lost or stolen. Therefore, the effective management of weapons stockpiles is an essential element of the UN Programme of Action to Prevent, Combat, and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (UN PoA) and its corresponding International Tracing Instrument.

As part of a regional project in support of the PoA and ITI, funded by the European Union, the United Nations Regional Center for Peace and Development in Asia and the Pacific (UNRCPD) assists States with the full and effective implementation of these instruments at different levels, including through operational small arms control and stockpile management.

When governments falter in maintaining the security of their national stockpiles, whether due to negligence, fraud, or inadequate knowledge and resources, the repercussions are dire. The proliferation of stolen, lost, or diverted arms and ammunition into illicit markets not only fuels conflict and armed violence but also facilitates terrorism and organized crime, resulting in countless deaths and injuries. Therefore, the implementation of stringent stockpile management measures is crucial in mitigating these risks and fostering peace and security.

Last month, UNRCPD supported a series of activities aimed at enhancing the Sri Lankan police’s capacity for the safe and secure accounting, storage, transportation and handling of state-held weapons. The activities, requested by the Sri Lankan police and conducted in partnership with the  Mines Advisory Group (MAG), comprised the construction of a container armory at the Paraganama Police Station (UVA Province), the construction of 17 weapon cabinets to Kalutara Police Training  College, model police stations (KPTC), and a training course for armory storekeepers and managers at the Deputy Inspector General’s Office in Badulla, Uva Province. The activities were designed in response to a technical risk assessment by MAG that identified the operational needs.

On 21 February, UNRCPD was invited by the Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police for the UVA region, Mr. Sampath Liyanage, to officially inaugurate the container armory. MAG Director for Sri Lanka, Ms. Cristy McLennan, along with MAG technical and substantive staff, and senior Police Officers also attended the ceremony.

Armory handover ceremony. Clockwise: Ms. Sharmini Shadagopan, MAG Sri Lanka Programme Manager, Mr. John Turnbull, MAG Technical Field Manager, Ms. Cristy McLennan, Director of MAG Sr Lanka, Ms. Ida Scarpino, UNRCPD Political Affairs Officer, Mr. Sampath Liyanage, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police for the UVA region, Mr. Buddhika Gunasekera, Superintendent of Police of Bandarewela Division.

The container armory features weapon racks, cabinets, and storage for small arms ammunition. The facility is enclosed by security fencing to further enhance its protective measures. Constructed from steel shipping containers capable of withstanding fire, theft, and vandalism, the armory is equipped with various security features, including locks, surveillance cameras, and motion sensors. The armory has a dedicated hard-copy inventory, overseen by the Armory Manager, which records various details to ensure the accountability of inbound and outbound flow.

Container armory at the Paraganama Police Station (UVA Province)

After an inspection of the armory and in-depth discussions with the officer in charge about operational protocols and procedures, there were speeches by dignitaries, traditional dances, as well as a tree planting ceremony, all marking this milestone and transition from traditional storage methods towards safer and more secure approaches, in line with international standards.

Inaugurating the container armory. The Armory has a plaque recognizing UNRCPD’s and MAG’s support and the financial contribution by the European Union. 

To ensure the long-term sustainable and effective management of the newly constructed facility, MAG, in coordination with UNRCPD, conducted a series of specialized training sessions for armory storekeepers and managers. These sessions, which police officers in charge of other armories also attended, were held at the DIG Station in the UVA province from 19 to 23 February. The training addressed critical elements of stockpile management, including risk assessment, inventory management, marking and record-keeping, and practices for reporting losses and conducting investigations, in line with the Modular Small-arms-control Implementation Compendium (MOSAIC).

Training course photo group. Clockwise: Mr. Ranapriya Abeyasinghe, MAG Training Officer, Ms. Cristy McLennan, Director of MAG Sr Lanka, Ms. Ida Scarpino, UNRCPD Political Affairs Officer, Mr. Sampath Liyanage, Deputy Inspector General (DIG) of Police for the UVA region, Mr. John Turnbull, MAG Technical Field Manager, Ms. Sharmini Shadagopan, MAG Sri Lanka Programme Manager.

UNRCPD facilitated two specific modules during the training sessions. The first module provided a comprehensive overview of Weapons and Ammunition (WAM) principles, with a focus on Physical Security and Stockpile Management (PSSM) and its role in ensuring supply chain security. Additionally, the trainers  encouraged discussions on bottom-up approaches for transparency, accountability, and responsible use of arms and ammunition.

The second module on Gender-Responsive Operational Small Arms Control began with an overview of gender terminology and concepts, followed by an analysis of PSSM practices from a gender perspective. This includes integrating gender analysis into specific stages, such as stockpile location risk assessment (e.g. assessing risks to local populations) and conducting comprehensive security vetting for armory staff to address potential risks of gender-based violence or domestic violence. A total of 31 police officers attended UNRCPD’s modules, including 6 women, marking the first instance of women officers being invited to such specialized training for armory storekeepers and managers.

The completion of the two activities strengthened Sri Lanka’s capacity to ensure the safe, sustainable, secure, and efficient management of stockpiles of SALW, aligning with its commitment to the UN PoA. UNRCPD remains fully committed to continuing to work with the government of Sri Lanka and technical partners such as MAG to ensure the effective implementation of the PoA and its ITI.

For more information, contact Ida Scarpino,