Media Center



June 7, 2011 - San Salvador, El Salvador

Mr. Chairman
Mr. Secretary-General
Heads of Delegations
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

My delegation extends its warmest appreciation to Government and people of El Salvador for their exceptional hospitality and generosity. My delegation would also wish to express its congratulations to the Government of El Salvador for the selection of the theme "Citizen Security in the Americas." We believe it is both timely and important given the priority that the Government of Antigua and Barbuda is giving to this issue.

Mr. Chairman,

In the Declaration on Security in the Americas, adopted at the Special Conference on Security, in Mexico City in 2003, the states of the hemisphere agreed that "our new concept of security in the hemisphere is multidimensional in scope, includes traditional and new threats, concerns and other challenges to the security of states of the hemisphere ... " Within Caribbean Community, one of the regional groupings to which Antigua and Barbuda belongs, security has been embraced as the fourth pillar of the Community. Heads of Government have established a regional framework for the management of crime and security and there has been recognition of the need for the development of institutions, instruments and initiatives to adequately address the issue of crime and security in the region.

Mr. Chairman,

Crime and more so organized crime is a worldwide phenomenon and has its impact has been felt throughout this hemisphere. In Antigua and Barbuda as with our CARICOM sister countries, our vulnerabilities, coupled with the current impact of the global economic crisis have left us susceptible to criminal elements.

Much of the crime and violence in our region is driven by the demand else-where for narcotic drugs, illicit sales and trafficking of weapons and the trafficking of persons. This demand has seen our shore become a transshipment points for the illegal drug and arms trade. We have also begun to experience an increase in the sophistication of criminal activities due to the deportation of criminals from North America and beyond.

In Antigua and Barbuda, we have adopted a zero tolerance on crime and criminal activity and as such we have implemented several strategies to maintain law and order within our shores. Some of these strategies have focused on strengthening collaboration between the police and members of the public while others have sought to strengthen institutions and the skills of frontline security personnel.

Permit me Mr. Chairman to highlight a few:

1. We have expanded our Drug Abuse Resistance Education Programme (known as the D.A.R.E. Programme).

This is a police officer-led series of classroom lectures aimed at teaching children from kindergarten through high school how to resist peer pressure and live productive drug and violence free lives. The Programme goes beyond traditional drug abuse and violence prevention programmes and provides our youth the skills needed to recognize and resist the subtle and overt pressures that cause them to experiment with drugs or become involved in gangs or violent activities.

2. Steps have also been taken to encourage all communities that have not already done so to establish a neighbourhood watch programme. Members of the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda have been mandated to provide all necessary assistance to any community desirous of setting up a neighbourhood watch programme. Further, the police will provide the necessary coordination to make these programmes more effective.

Over the past year, steps have also been taken to strengthen the Office of National Drug and Money Laundering Control Policy(ONDCP) and to improve its operational effectiveness through cooperation with agencies such as the Royal Police Force of Antigua and Barbuda, the Antigua and Barbuda Defense Force, the Financial Services Regulatory Commission, the Customs and Excise Division, the Immigration Department, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank and other local, regional and international organizations. This collaboration has already born fruit as evidenced in the seizure of property valued at over 1.5 million US dollars and over $135 million dollars worth of illegal narcotics that were intercepted by the agency - the largest drugs shipment seized in our waters in our nation's history.

The Immigration Department also plays a significant role in protecting our borders from illegal activities. The Government of Antigua and Barbuda continues in its efforts to upgrade all ports of entry with biometric equipment and software and will seek to develop immigration personnel by equipping them with the requisite knowledge to detect fraudulent documents, prevent and detect human trafficking and improve customer relation skills in support of the tourism industry.

Mr. Chairman,

Permit me to note, that despite our many successes in fighting crime and combating violence, the Government of Antigua and Barbuda holds firmly to view that this is but one aspect of the security threats confronting our island-state. We believe that addressing the political, economic, social, environmental and cultural problems in our hemisphere must remain a key strategy at the highest political level of our governments if we are to give real meaning to the citizen security.

To this end, Antigua and Barbuda maintains that we should fight corruption at every level of society as one way of ensuring that the benefits of democracy and security reach all of the people. It is for this reason that the Government, within seven months of taking office, passed a trilogy of laws, namely the Freedom of Information Act, the Prevention of Corruption Act and the Integrity in Public Life Act. This legislative package represents the most comprehensive and ambitious effort undertaken by any Government in our sub-region. The Government embarked on this path because it was determined to make good governance one of the hallmarks of its term in office and to bring about fundamental changes in the way Government conducted its business on behalf of the people whom it was elected to serve.

Mr. Chairman,

Natural Disasters have also come to the fore within the last few years especially within the security context of the 21st century. The Caribbean has seen the need year after year to improve its preparedness, mitigation and recovery from natural disasters as well as those that are manmade, to minimize loss of life and the damage to infrastructure. No event highlighted such a need as the January 12, 2010 earthquake in CARICOM Member State Haiti. Antigua and Barbuda remains committed to work with the Department of Sustainable Development and other organs, agencies and entities with a view to strengthening its response to natural disasters.

Antigua and Barbuda also calls for greater corporate social responsibility in our hemisphere. We would like to see more emphasis being placed on linking the OAS's democracy agenda with its development agenda. Moreover, we wish to call for broad-based discussions, by all relevant actors within the Inter-American System, on the negotiation of an Inter-American Social Charter that will promote social development within the hemisphere.

Mr. Chairman,

In closing, there is no lack of ideas as to what should be done to improve the welfare of our peoples. There is no shortage of mandates from our political bodies. There is no lacking in policy prescriptions for addressing the low and often deteriorating levels of human development. Antigua and Barbuda believes that it is time to take action on behalf of so many in our hemisphere who live in despair and for whom hope is quickly fading. Let us work together to improve their lives so that security can have meaning for them as well.

Thank you Mr. Chairman.