focus on security
Fri, 09/16/2016 - 12:00am
The Organisation of American States (OAS) is committed to protecting the citizens of the Caribbean from all of the various threats it faces.
This is according to Assistant General Secretary at the OAS, Nestor Mendez, who delivered a lecture at the University of the West Indies (UWI), Cave Hill Campus recently.
“Small island developing states are deeply concerned about their human security – as a very part of their survival. For the CARICOM Member States of the OAS, the Organisation’s security agenda at the time found little resonance, or at least it did not respond to the most pressing security issues as seen from the lens of our local circumstances. There were other threats such as the drug trade, illegal trafficking in firearms, human trafficking, the effects of natural disasters, climate change, just to name a few, which posed a more existential threat to them.”
However, at a meeting of the OAS approximately 18 years ago, the vulnerabilities that SIDS face were discussed and their concerns were taken into consideration.
“As a result of strong diplomatic advocacy of CARICOM Member States, in 1998 the OAS convened a High Level meeting to discuss the Special Security Concerns of Small Island States of the Caribbean. The outcomes of that meeting signalled the first time that the OAS officially recognised and agreed that ‘Security for small island states has a multidimensional character as to its scope and application, and includes [a range of items], that include protection against environmental factors and ecological risks that could pose a threat to their survival, [ as well as ] the link between trade, economic development and security’”
Therefore, the OAS provides various initiatives to help SIDS with these threats. One of these is their vulnerability to terrorism, said Mendez.
"The Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) is the lead organisation within the inter-American system for co-ordinating efforts to protect citizens from terrorism. The OAS has taken a technical approach to addressing terrorism-related issues; this includes conducting extensive training throughout the region in such areas as maritime and port security, the detection of fraudulent documents, and the creation of response teams to handle incidents involving cyber-crime.”
The OAS is also conscious of the susceptibility of SIDS as it relates to public security, he said. “Criminal gangs are increasingly associated with transnational organised crime and are becoming involved in drugs, arms, and human trafficking. Through our public security programs, the OAS is supporting stepped-up law enforcement and increased implementation of prevention strategies; including creating job opportunities and greater training and educational opportunities for young people. The OAS also provides technical and legal assistance to member states such as training for police, prosecutors and judges on special investigative techniques; witness protection programs; and the effective functioning of the accusatorial criminal justice system.”