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Security of small island states

 

Reports

 

PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE
ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES

COMMITTEE ON HEMISPHERIC SECURITY

OEA/Ser.G
CP/CSH-58/97 corr.1
10 February 1997
Original: English

SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE ON HEMISPHERIC SECURITY ON THE SPECIAL SECURITY CONCERNS OF SMALL ISLAND STATES

RAPPORTEUR’S REPORT

I. INTRODUCTION

The Special Meeting of the Committee on Hemispheric Security on the Special Security Concerns of Small Island States was held on October 17 and 18, 1996 in accordance with General Assembly resolution “Promotion of Security in the Small Island States “AG/RES. 1410 (XXVI-O/96), to consider the Agenda approved by the Committee on September 20, 1996 /.

The meeting was presided over by the Chair of the Committee, Ambassador Carmen Moreno de Del Cueto. The Chair of the Permanent Council, Ambassador Beatriz Ramacciotti and the Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Christopher R. Thomas, addressed the opening session of the meeting. The Secretary General's message to the Meeting was also read /.

Delegations from Member States, which included experts, participated actively in the two day deliberations and the principal interventions have been attached to this Report /. A number of presentations were also submitted in writing and circulated during the meeting /.

The Meeting covered a wide and complex range of issues. This Report attempts to record the salient points of the presentations.

II. PROCEEDINGS

In order to facilitate an understanding of the issues, an historical overview of the small island states of the Caribbean was presented with emphasis on their democratic political traditions, and cultural and developmental processes.

The deliberations were structured along the lines of the Agenda, but there was considerable overlap in the presentations; this section of the Report has therefore been organised under the major themes which emerged from the various interventions.

The presentations underscored:

1. Security Concerns of Small Island States in the Caribbean

• The subject of security within the Hemisphere presents issues of common concern to all OAS Member States. There are however, particular concerns regarding the nature and salience of security threats to the small island states of the Caribbean.

• For the small island states in the Caribbean, security is multidimensional, with military, political, economic and environmental elements, involving both state and non-state actors.

• Threats to the maintenance of peace and security in the Caribbean region emanate from both external and internal factors, many of which cannot be managed or contained by individual national initiatives.

• Due to their special vulnerabilities, small island states consider that these threats include illegal trafficking in narcotics, illegal trade in arms, increasing levels of crime and corruption, illegal migration, economic vulnerability, environmental degradation, susceptibility to natural disasters, transportation of nuclear waste and increased levels of poverty.

1.a Sub-regional Responses

• Limited national capacity and the peculiar nature of many security concerns, have led these small states to establish a number of formal and informal sub-regional co-operative mechanisms and arrangements, involving both military and civilian security personnel. Operational links also exist with military and civilian security forces outside of the sub-region.

• A notable example of sub-regional cooperation in this area is the Regional Security System (RSS) established by treaty in 1982, with seven member states in the Eastern Caribbean: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. The RSS, which brings together the military and/or police forces of its member states, focusses on combatting drug trafficking and smuggling; responding to natural disasters; and providing security assistance. The RSS has operational links with other forces in the Caribbean and the Hemisphere.

• Some of the small island states are members / of the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB) which provides support to their relevant national institutions.

• Non-military security concerns and threats that confront small island states require different approaches to those of conventional doctrines on security.

• In a study distributed by the Permanent Mission of Canada / it is stated that security management approaches, such as confidence expanding, in the sub-region may enhance existing co-operative arrangements such as the Regional Security System, and other mechanisms, as well as may seek to include additional hemispheric partners in a broader regime.

• Cooperation with and assistance from multilateral organisations continues to strengthen the national capacity of small island states, thereby helping to reduce their vulnerability to threats to their security. In this context, emphasis was placed on the contributions made by the OAS itself and under the White Helmets Initiative.

• In the current reform process currently being undertaken in many multilateral organisations small island states are committed to ensuring the promotion of activities which support and facilitate their national development.

• Capability limitations underscore the necessity of strengthened multilateral co-operation for the maintenance of peace and security of the sub-region while respecting the sovereignty and territorial integrity of each state, as recognized by international law and the Charters of the Organization of American States and the United Nations.

2. The Caribbean as a Zone of Peace

• In the context of the long-standing peaceful relations among small island Caribbean states as well as with other countries in the wider region, small island states do not consider external military threats a major security concern at this time.

• Furthermore, small island Caribbean states’ membership in sub-regional, hemispheric and international organisations and the importance they place on adherence to the norms of international law, including the peaceful settlement of disputes, are important elements in reducing their vulnerability to external military threats.

• The benefits of recognising and declaring the Caribbean as a Zone of Peace within the context of the United Nations proposal to create specific geographic areas as zones of peace, --a proposal which has been supported by many small island states and other states in the Hemisphere. The potential for heightening international awareness of the peculiar security concerns of small island states, for increased multi-national cooperation in priority areas, and for greater support for strengthening peace and security in the Caribbean was noted.

• Furthermore, in the context of General Assembly resolution “The Western Hemisphere as an antipersonnel-land-mine-free zone” [AG/RES. 1411 (XXVI-O/96)], the small island Caribbean states are free of antipersonnel-land-mines and do not produce, use or trade in these weapons.

• Hemispheric states have an important role to play in promoting international recognition of the Caribbean as a zone of peace.

• As one step towards being declared as a Zone of Peace, small island Caribbean states, which have not yet done so, can benefit from ratifying the amendments to the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (the “Treaty of Tlatelolco”).

3. Special Security Concerns

The detailed aspects of special security concerns of small island states can be categorised under two broad headings: Economic and Social Issues, and Environmental Issues.

3.a Economic and Social Issues

i. Illegal drug-trafficking

• The problem of the production, consumption and abuse of, and trafficking in illegal drugs was clearly identified as one of the major non-military threats to the security of small island states.

• The consequential myriad of adverse effects, including trafficking in illegal arms and high-powered weapons, increasing levels of crime, institutional corruption and money laundering, impact negatively on crucial economic sectors and on the maintenance of peaceful, stable, democratic societies.

• A number of national and sub-regional mechanisms and arrangements have been developed by small island states and supported by hemispheric and international organizations, including the OAS, to fight illegal drugs and related crimes.

• Limited capacity by small island states to deal fully with this problem demands greater support for these measures and further collaboration in this area, while respecting the sovereignty of these states.

ii. Economic vulnerability

• Small island states are characterised by limited domestic markets, open economies with a high dependence on trade, and dependence on one or two exports of primary products and raw material destined for one or two major markets. Trade policies of more developed economies and of the international community are therefore, critical variables in the economic viability of small island states.

• Stable and increasing market access is critical to the economic security of small island states.

• The intensification of trade integration and the liberalisation process presents both new opportunities and challenges for small island states.

• Historical sensitivity to the economic vulnerabilities of small island states which had led to special trade regimes covering most of their exports should not be prematurely jettisoned in the current global and regional trade liberalisation and integration processes, as markets crucial to the economic viability of those states could be lost, thereby ultimately threatening their peace and stability .

• There is great concern in the Caribbean at the possible impact of the current action against the European Union’s Banana Regime in the World Trade Organisation (WTO); and the implications for peace, security and stability in these small island states.

• If preferential access for bananas exported by small island states to Europe is rapidly dismantled as a result of the complaint to the WTO, this would lead to the collapse of the banana industry in the affected states, thereby resulting in massive losses of foreign exchange earnings and rapidly increasing rate of unemployment, in turn leading to social instability.

• In addition, the adverse effects of the collapse of the banana industry in small island states would extend to other non-banana producing small island states and the wider sub-region because of the impact on the common currency of the Eastern Caribbean countries, and the inter-dependence of trade in goods and services.

• Further, the capacity of many small island states to import goods and services from developed hemispheric countries would be eroded.

iii. Financing and debt relief

• The limited capital base of small island states can place severe constraints on domestic efforts to develop and strengthen socio-economic processes crucial to the maintenance of national peace and security.

• One consequence of this limitation is the need for continued access to external concessional financing, a significant element in the sustainable development of small island states. The inability of many small island states to access concessional financing because of comparatively high per capita income indices, is cause for great concern to them, as these indices do not reflect the high unit costs in small island states. The issue of graduation as it applies to small island states therefore, needs to be urgently re-examined by the international community.

• The call for the establishment of a Regional Development Fund which can assist small island states in meeting the capital costs of improving their infrastructure.

• The export of capital through continuing high debt burdens is a further constraint on domestic development processes and has an adverse impact on the maintenance of stable society. Additional creative mechanisms for reducing the debt burden of affected states should be put in place.

3b. Environmental Issues

• The livelihood of small island states is founded largely on agriculture, fisheries and tourism so that these countries are highly dependent on their fragile eco-systems. The adverse impact of natural disasters (hurricanes, volcanoes, floods and drought) on their economies and on the fabric of their societies is significantly heightened as any of these can cause immediate devastation, loss of life, extensive damage to property, leading to the disruption to key sectors of the total economy for protracted periods of time.

• The transhipment of nuclear waste through the Caribbean Sea constitutes a threat of immense proportions to the fragile eco-systems of the Caribbean and is itself therefore, a threat to the security of small island states.

• Small island states have attempted to mitigate the effects of natural disasters by developing, with the support of the OAS and other regional and international bodies, a number of national and sub-regional arrangements, which provide for training of relevant personnel, identification of disaster-prone areas, development of new building codes, and the mobilisation of both human and material resources to assist disaster-stricken areas throughout the sub-region. Intensified hemispheric cooperation on such initiatives is required , and in this context, continued support for the Plan of Action adopted at the Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island States / is of crucial significance for the mitigation process.

III. CONCLUSIONS

The interventions by the country experts and delegates elucidated the special security concerns of small island states of the Caribbean, providing a wealth of information on their peculiar vulnerabilities and concerns to a wide range of non-traditional threats. The Meeting served also to focus attention on the imminent and farreaching impact of these threats to the immediate and long-term viability of these small island states as independent sovereign states.

The Committee decided to continue its consideration of the issue of the special security concerns of small island states in accordance with its mandates towards fostering and strengthening security measures in small island states.

My duty as Rapporteur of this Special Meeting would be incomplete if I did not mention the appreciation expressed during the meeting to the His Excellency Lionel A. Hurst, Ambassador of Antigua and Barbuda for his country’s initiative in placing this as a priority issue on the agenda of the Organisation; the excellent chairmanship of the Special Meeting by Her Excellency, Ambassador Carmen Moreno de Del Cueto; and to the Permanent Observer Missions of France and the United Kingdom for their participation in the deliberations. I also wish to express my deep appreciation for the invaluable contribution by the members of staff of the OAS Secretariat to the success of this Meeting.

It was an honour to serve as Rapporteur of this Special Meeting and I now submit this Report to the Committee on Hemispheric Security.

January 1997

Gail Mathurin Minister, Alternate Representative of Jamaica to the OAS

APPENDIX I

1. Special Meeting of the Committee on Hemispheric Security on the Special Security Concerns of Small Island States — Agenda

PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE                                                   OEA/Ser.G
ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES                                      CP/CSH-40/96 rev. 2
                                                                                                   17 October 1996
COMMITTEE ON HEMISPHERIC SECURITY                                  Original: English

SPECIAL MEETING OF THE COMMITTEE ON HEMISPHERIC SECURITY ON THE SPECIAL SECURITY CONCERNS OF SMALL ISLAND STATES

AGENDA

(Approved by the Committee at its meeting on September 20, 1996)

1. The security of small island states in the Caribbean

a. Historical overview and the characteristics of the region: democracy, culture, and development

b. Military alliances and ties with other security institutions in the Hemisphere

2. Special security concerns of small island states in a pacific age and peaceful region

a. External threats

i. Military

ii. Non-military (drugs, international crime, and illegal arms trade)

b. Economic vulnerability

3. Multilateral cooperation to reduce threats to the security of small island states

a. Inter-American experiences

i. The White Helmets experience

ii. Multilateral assistance by the OAS

b. International experiences

i. Economic assistance and human resource development

ii. Multilateral assistance from the UN, the Commonwealth, and other international organizations

iii. The Pacific Islands' experience

4. The Caribbean as a zone of peace: background and prospects

- Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin American and the Caribbean (Treaty of Tlatelolco)

- Antipersonnel Land Mines

5. Building sustainable economic, social, and natural security defenses to external threats in small island states

a. Development and use of appropriate economic measurement devices

b. Natural disasters as causal factors in un-sustainable development

c. Trade

i. trade in commodities and produce

ii. trade in services and tourism

iii. hemispheric integration

d. Finance

i. support for small- and medium-sized enterprises

ii. debt relief

e. Infrastructural development

f. Social development

g. Importance of international economic cooperation for development in small island states

6. Final report

APPENDIX II 1/

1. Remarks by the Chair of the Permanent Council at the Opening Session

2. Statement by the Assistant Secretary General at the Opening Session

3. Message from the Secretary General

4. Intervention by the Chair of the Committee on Hemispheric Security

APPENDIX III

1. Historical Overview and Characteristics of the Caribbean Region (Antigua and Barbuda) 2. Realities of the Caribbean security landscape (Antigua and Barbuda) 3. Special Security Concerns of Small Island States: The Threat (Trinidad and Tobago) 4. Democracy, Culture and Development (Antigua and Barbuda) 5. The Caribbean as a Zone of Peace (Antigua and Barbuda) 6. El Caribe como Zona de Paz (Venezuela) 7. Special Security Concerns of Small Island States in a Pacific Age and peaceful Region: Economic Vulnerability (Jamaica) 8. Special Security Concerns of Small Island States in a Pacific Age and peaceful Region: The Importance of Considering the Security of Small Island States (Antigua and Barbuda) 9. Special Security Concerns of Small Island States in a Pacific Age and peaceful Region: Military (Antigua and Barbuda) 10. Special Security Concerns of Small Island States in a Pacific Age and peaceful Region: Non-Military (Jamaica) 11. La Securité des Petites Iles: les facteurs non militaires (France) 12. Multilateral Responses to Economic, Social and Natural Security Threats for Small Island States (United States) 13. Multilateral Responses to Economic, Social and Natural Security Threats for Small Island States (Barbados) 14. Multilateral Responses to Economic, Social and Natural Security Threats for Small Island States (Antigua and Barbuda) 15. Multilateral Cooperation to Reduce Threats to the Security of Small Island States: Multilateral Assistance from the United Nations, the Commonwealth and other International Organizations (Grenada) 16. Building Sustainable Economic, Social and Natural Security Defenses to External Threats in Small Island States: "Trade in Commodities and Produce" (St. Vincent and the Grenadines) 17. Building Sustainable Economic, Social and Natural Security Defenses to External Threats: Natural Disasters; Trade in Tourism and Services; and Hemispheric Integration (Antigua and Barbuda) 18. Edifications de defense économique, sociale et naturelle soutenable face auz menaces extérieures dans les petits Etats insulaires: le problème des réfugiés, déplaces et émigrés (Haiti) 19. Economic Assistance and Human Resource Development 20. Development and the Use of Appropriate Economic Measurement Devices in Small Island States (St. Kitts and Nevis) 21. Natural Disasters (Antigua and Barbuda) 22. Natural Disasters (Barbados) 23. Natural Disasters (St. Lucia) 24. Prevention des catastrophes (France) 25. Natural Disasters (United Kingdom)

APPENDIX IV

1. Confidence Building: Managing Caribbean Security Concerns, James Macintosh and Ivelaw Griffith, Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Verification Research Program, Canada, October 1996 (Canada) 2. Cascos Blancos en Acción (Argentina) 3. Multilateral Cooperation to Reduce Threats to the Security of Small Island States: Multilateral Assistance from the United Nations, the Commonwealth and other International Organizations (Antigua and Barbuda) 4. Special Security Concerns of Small Island States in a Pacific Age and Peaceful Region: Non-Military (Bahamas) 5. A Call for a Moratorium on the Manufacture, Trade, Transfer and use of Anti-Personnel Land-Mines—A Synopsis (St. Lucia) 6. Multilateral Cooperation to Reduce Threats to the Security of Small Island States: The Pacific Islands' Experience (Antigua and Barbuda)

 

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