Blackwell: "more than 50% of kidnappings
in the world occur in Latin America"
Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, November 16, 2011
|Secretary of Multidimensional Security, Adam Blackwell (right).
Intervention by the Secretary
for Multidimensional Security of the OAS, Adam
Blackwell, during the inaugural ceremony of the III
meeting of the Working Group on Transnational
Distinguished Delegates, Ambassadors and Permanent Representatives to the OAS,
Special guests, ladies and gentlemen,
- Our societies are under attack in ways never seen before. Criminals and criminal organizations have perverted the benefits of globalization to work across or around national borders and usurp legitimate trade restrictions, and modern financial and telecommunications systems to expand their operations. This expansion has increased levels of illicit activity: trafficking in drugs, in fire arms, migrant smuggling, and trafficking in persons, money laundering, and cyber threats, all of which leads to high levels of violence in our countries.
- Transnational organized crime accelerates other forms of violence and crime; directly or indirectly, it affects the whole of society, threatens to erode institutional stability, citizens’ confidence in their Government, and poses challenges to private investment, competitiveness and economic and social development. The criminals gain is a direct cost to national development objectives and is a significant drag on the development and prosperity agenda. Recent World Bank and WEF reports estimate that the cost of insecurity to the GDP in certain countries of the Western Hemisphere may amount to up to 10%.
- Our problems have been well documented, but allow me to highlight just a few that today call us to action
- The murder rate is even higher in many of our urban centers it can be as high as 120 per 100,000 inhabitants, furthermore 74% of these murders are committed with firearms most of them illicit. In a region with no military conflicts – if we can call it that, these numbers are unacceptable. The probabilities of a young Latin America or Caribbean youth becoming a homicide victim are 70 times those of my country for example.
- 90% of the global production of coca leaf and coca paste originates in the Andean sub-region, which amounts to approximately 900 tons of cocaine, representing a market value of $60 billion. Only a very small proportion of this remains in the sub region the rest becoming the motor of transnational organized criminal groups which dominate the trade in illicit drugs; cocaine, marihuana, heroin and methamphetamine and are now busy extending their reach – in both product and geography
- According to reports by the International Labor Organization, human trafficking in Latin America generates annual revenues of $1.3 billion.
- More than 50% of kidnappings in the world occur in Latin America.
- Transnational organized crime is everyone’s’ problem, it occurs in developed and developing countries where poverty, inequality, social and political exclusion and governance challenges are both causes and consequences of the problem. The effect on countries and within countries is different and is usually at its most extreme near corridors of illegal activity and marginalized urban areas.
- Therefore the capacity to disrupt transnational organized crime transcends the resources and capabilities of individual countries, and cooperation is essential to attain effective results. The principle of shared responsibility, which was originally applied to the need for all actors of the international community to do their part in the fight against the world drug problem, must be extended to the fight against transnational organized crime.
- A number of binding international instruments aimed to strengthen international commitment and cooperation in confronting transnational organized crime have originated within the Inter American System. Many of these instruments have subsequently become models for treaties discussed within the United Nations’ context. These include the Inter-American Convention on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters (1992), the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and other Related Materials (CIFTA, of 1997); and the Inter-American Convention against Corruption (1996).
- In 2000, the member states of the United Nations adopted the Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (known as the Palermo Convention), a major step ahead in the fight against organized crime. The Convention and its three Protocols* promote legislative advancement at the national level to include new criminal offences, as well as mechanisms for cooperation such as frameworks to facilitate extradition, mutual legal assistance, law enforcement cooperation, training and technical assistance, aimed at upgrading national authorities’ capabilities in this area.
- In 2006, OAS member states adopted a Hemispheric Plan of Action against Transnational Organized Crime in support of the Palermo Convention’s full implementation. This Action Plan, together with the Declaration on Security in the Americas of 2003, essentially portrays the vision and common framework for preventing and confronting organized crime in the Western Hemisphere.
- A Technical Group charged with the promotion of the Plan of Action’s full implementation was set up, and is convening again today, for the third time. I wish to express our special gratitude to the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for hosting this meeting and to the Government of the United States for the financial support that made it possible.
- A document entitled Components of the Work Program of the Technical Group on Transnational Organized Crime has been discussed and will be considered for approval during this meeting. Its purpose is to define the guidelines by which to advance in a coordinated, effective manner, our common efforts against transnational organized crime in the Americas.
- Colleagues, sustained progress in combating organized crime in Latin America and the Caribbean will take time and persistence. I urge you to direct our efforts to the development and strengthening of our institutional capacities, through knowledge sharing, the exchange of information and experiences, and wherever possible, joint action. The OAS - whether it be through the initiatives of MISPA or REMJA, CICAD and CICTE stands ready to facilitate all initiatives directed at advancing horizontal cooperation and technical assistance, based on each member state’s individual strengths and needs We are also committed to work in alignment to national and sub regional priorities, and to harmonize our efforts with other partner institutions, international agencies and organizations.
- As stated by the United States’ recently launched Strategy to combat Transnational Organized Crime the expanding size, scope, and influence of transnational organized crime and its impact on international security and governance represent one of the most significant challenges to the prosperity, security, respect for universal values and the shaping of an international order that can meet the challenges of the 21st century.
- This gathering is a unique, if not long overdue opportunity for us as leaders, practitioners, and policy makers to reaffirm our commitment to the Hemispheric Plan of Action on Transnational Organized Crime – this is the time to strengthen the coalition of the committed, and act decisively to reduce the influence and impact of transnational organized crime.
- I wish to thank you all for attending this invitation and I wish you a successful day of deliberations. Thank you.
* The Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children; the Protocol against the Smuggling of Migrants by Land, Sea and Air; and the Protocol against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Their Parts and Components and Ammunition.