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Bahamas, Costa Rica, Paraguay, and Uruguay Join OAS Project to Promote the Marking of Firearms

  January 24, 2011

The General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the governments of Costa Rica, Paraguay, Uruguay and The Bahamas today signed a cooperation agreement for the implementation of the project "Promoting Firearms Marking in Latin America and the Caribbean." The ceremony took place Organization headquarters in Washington, DC.

The agreement, signed within the framework of the activities held to implement the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Related Materials (CIFTA), aims to strengthen national capacities in this area and provide marking equipment and training to beneficiary countries.

During the signing ceremony, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza affirmed that "as with many other activities, the OAS tries not only to be the repository of the policies that direct our hemisphere in this area, but we also intend to support Members States in the development and strengthening of national capacities to implement these agreements. In this case, to combat illicit-arms trafficking through different tools: providing advice on the development of model legislation, exchange of best practices, gathering and analyzing statistical information, and offering technical assistance, etc.”

The Secretary General applauded the governments’ commitment in the fight against crime and commented that "we are all encouraged by the hope of saving the lives of children, youth, women and men who might be victimized by a gun trafficked in this way."

The Permanent Representative of The Bahamas, Ambassador Cornelius Smith, for his part, thanked the OAS for the initiative and said that this project "is very important for my country because we have become a transit point for drugs and small arms." He added that "the marking of firearms helps us identify the weapons that have been used in criminal activity, and therefore helps to combat crime in the region."

Similarly, the Representative of the Government of Costa Rica to the OAS, Ambassador José Enrique Castillo, considered arms trafficking control as "crucial" and further referred to the rising levels of violence his country has been suffering. "People have come to consider this issue one of their major concerns."

For her part, Ambassador Maria del Lujan Flores, of Uruguay, said the agreement "is a clear example of cooperation to prevent, combat, and eradicate illicit arms trafficking, a scourge that needs to be faced by each and every one of us."

The Permanent Representative of Paraguay, Hugo Saguier Bernardino, joined her call, making reference to his country's political willingness to eradicate illicit arms trade. "Our government will not spare any efforts to create the conditions to control them," he concluded.

All four countries agreed on their gratefulness to the United States Government for the financial support for this program. In this regard, Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, Permanent Representative of the United States to the OAS, encouraged Member States to continue implementing measures to combat this scourge. "Concrete steps by individual countries and collective steps by regional and international organizations can go a long way through combating arms trafficking," said Ambassador Lomellin, who was pleased with "the countries' commitment demonstrated through their enthusiastic participation in the program."

Along with El Salvador, these four countries are the first five to adhere to such an agreement in the framework of CIFTA, an instrument that emphasizes that the marking of firearms contributes to combat illicit firearms trafficking as it allows authorities to identify the seized weapons to determine their origin.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-513/11