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US State Department, USAID, OAS -sponsored Conference Promotes Youth and Crime Prevention in the Americas

  June 28, 2011

Today a major citizen security conference organized by USAID, State Department and OAS concluded that programs where governments, citizens and businesses work together to strengthen communities and provide alternatives for at-risk-youth are key to combatting crime in the Americas.

The event, which follows-up on the recent OAS General Assembly on Citizen Security in El Salvador and the SICA conference on Central American security, was inaugurated by José Miguel Insulza, OAS Secretary General; Arturo Valenzuela, Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs; and Mark Feierstein, USAID Assistant Administrator for Latin America and the Caribbean. The three principals called for greater emphasis on programs that target youth and get at the social and economic roots of crime and violence.

“Crime, drug trafficking, and violence are a threat to democracy, rule of law and economic development in the Americas,” said Insulza. “And the region’s young people, one in three of whom neither works nor studies, are the most vulnerable to the lure of crime. We need to better coordinate our different prevention programs to ensure the best results for our young people.”

Added Valenzuela, “collectively, all governments and societies need to transform the negative image of youth as generators of violence to a positive image of youth as agents for peace and development. We must help young people become productive members of society who value democracy, freedom, equality, rule of law, and entrepreneurship.”

Participants discussed the successes and failures of community policing projects in the U.S., Brazil, Jamaica and Guatemala; juvenile justice reforms in Afghanistan, Spain and the Caribbean; and innovative public-private partnerships for youth development.

The U.S. Government partners with Latin American and Caribbean Governments to provide at-risk-youth with options to crime through the Obama Administration’s Central American (CARSI) and Caribbean (CBSI) regional citizen security initiatives.

We know that more money isn’t the only answer to reaching youth and getting at the root causes of crime and violence,“ said Feierstein. “We also need to invest our resources wisely. Meetings like these allow us to hear directly from implementers, policy makers and beneficiaries about what’s working, what isn’t and how we can do better.”

A comprehensive report on the conference is being compiled and will be posted at at a later date.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-744/11