Media Center



June 7, 2011 - San Salvador, El Salvador

Chair of the General Assembly, the Honourable Hugo Martinez, Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador
Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Miguel Insulza
Assistant Secretary General,
Delegates, Observers, Members of the Head Table
Ladies .... Gentlemen ... Good day

Mr. Chairman, allow me to express my country's appreciation to the Government and people of El Salvador for the warm welcome extended to my delegation since our arrival in San Salvador. I wish to thank the co-coordinating committee for the smooth arrangements made for this meeting both before and since our arrival here.

I also extend a special "thank you" to you, Minister Martinez, for serving as Chairman and guiding the proceedings of the meeting with deliberate judgment and efficiency.

I read before I came here that El Salvador is the smallest country in Central America. Mr. Chair, since arriving, I have seen nothing small in the welcome we have received and certainly there is nothing small about your splendid orchestra that gave such a riveting performance on Sunday night. Without a doubt the beauty and landscapes here are by far most impressive. EI Salvador, impresionante!

Mr. Chairman, it gives me great pleasure, on behalf of the Government and the people of Saint Lucia, to address this august assembly on the theme of "Citizen Security in the Americas". The question of security, we all know, is on the forefront of all our minds irrespective of country size, level of development or location. In 2004, the United Nations drew attention to the global concern on security when it adopted UN Security Resolution 1540 (UNSCR 1540). This resolution requires all states to implement measures aimed at preventing non-state actors from acquiring Nuclear, Biological and Chemical weapons, related materials, and their means of delivery. In calling for the implementation of these measures, the international community identified the proliferation and acquisition of these weapons of mass destruction (WMD's) as the major security threat facing the world community.

Mr. Chair, it can be very tempting for small states like Saint Lucia to view issues related to WMD's as something removed from us. For instance, as we speak, Saint Lucia is facing a painful rehabilitation and recovery from the devastating Hurricane Tomas in October 2010 and heavy flooding in the following months that together have brought havoc to the social and productive sectors and great destruction to buildings and road networks. In truth, certain governments on a daily basis confront the pressing necessity of addressing issues such as high unemployment among youth and adults, skyrocketing fuel prices, satisfying demands for education and other social services, maintaining good governance and social stability. In this mix, we cannot overlook the unsettling impact of national disasters whether these take the form of the devastating earthquakes in Haiti and Chile or swollen rivers and tornadoes in Missouri and Mississippi or the violent Caribbean hurricanes as mentioned earlier. These environmental issues demand a government's immediate attention for safeguarding its citizens.

Yet the truth is, for these very reasons, sustaining national and citizen security is the most important challenge facing nation states today. For us, the real WMD's that threaten our citizens may not be nuclear, biological or chemical. They are the illegal weapons, particularly the trafficking in small arms and ammunitions, which bring untimely deaths to so many of our young men in this region. Secretary General Insulza has reminded us of this sad reality when he noted that a young man in Latin America has a far greater chance of dying from violence than one in Europe. Our WMD's are the transnational organized crime that feed the scourge of illegal drugs and narcotics, thereby fueling crimes, gang violence, corruption, murders and mayhem. They are also the trafficking in persons, particularly in young girls and women, that if not eradicated will not only inflict more human suffering but can bring back enslavement among some groups in our populations.

But Mr. Chair, we also maintain that our WMD's are not only guns and crime; they are the inadequate health facilities that let us lose lives that could be saved. We can find them in the environment of deprivation that too often fosters alienation in young people and lead them to a path of criminal behavior.

Mr. Chair, it is important to highlight these issues because with the interdependence which is an unavoidable feature of the modern world, this global village we call home, security is not just one country's worry; it is a worry for us all.

Transnational crimes do not respect national boundaries: where one is under threat in the Americas, we all must be vigilant and work in cooperation. As Hon. Hugo Martinez, Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador said during the dialogue of Heads of Delegations and Heads of Delegations of Permanent Observer countries, security is multidimensional in nature and provides one more mechanism for deepening relations among member states in the Americas and other nations.

Indeed, this seems an appropriate time to commend the OAS in its lead role in recognizing security as one of the four main pillars of a good society along with democracy, human rights and development. The establishment of a Secretariat of Multidimensional Security serves to further underscore the critical importance that the ~AS places on security. Saint Lucia fully supports this view and continues to cooperate with the OAS on any and all initiatives that address issues of security. For example, we will very shortly be signing the Cooperation Agreement for the Execution of the Project "Promoting Firearms Marking in Latin America and the Caribbean". We are also pleased to support the development of a Prevention Strategy for the Caribbean - an initiative being undertaken by the Secretariat of Multi-Dimensional Security - that seeks to help countries in adopting successful approaches to provide alternatives to crime and violence.

Mr. Chairman, we cannot resolve security issues by outlining the problems therefore, please permit me to briefly share with the General Assembly a few of the actions of my country's government. Saint Lucia has placed great emphasis in recent times on ensuring the safety of the country. In 2010, the Prime Minister of Saint Lucia, Honourable Stephenson King, singled out national security and combating crime as two areas for special focus. Since this time, very specific and concrete measures have been taken to enhance our capacity to address these issues. An important step in this direction was the re-organisation of the Royal Saint Lucia Police Force, specifically the strengthening of its management capacity, and the rationalization of responsibilities.

As a result, this year in particular has seen a marked reduction in the murder rate and number of gang related killings. The Royal Saint Lucia Police Force is making a conscious and very visible effort to curb the threat of gang related violence to citizen security and the country has been reaping the benefits thus far.

Additionally, Government has further outlined a Plan of Action to address crime and security. The Plan specifically involves improving law enforcement capabilities, fostering greater cooperation on both the regional and international level, engaging in legislative reform, facilitating social reformation, and finally, actively engaging all sectors of the society to confront crime and security challenges.

Since the announcement of this Plan of Action, noticeable progress has been made.

The police have embarked on a major initiative dubbed "Operation Restore Confidence" which has resulted in significant successes against criminal elements.

And of course, efforts on the national level have been supplemented with regional and international engagements.

The Government of Saint Lucia is pleased to be a part of the Caribbean Basin Security Initiative (CBSI) between CARl COM Governments and the Government of the United States - a partnership which helps to address security in a multi-faceted approach. It is of utmost importance that each and every member state of the OAS recognizes the importance of pooling resources together in an effort to combat security threats, both natural and man-made, in the region. Saint Lucia hereby takes this golden opportunity at the present Assembly to offer its unequivocal commitment to and support for the work of the OAS and its various agencies in the formulation of best practices and compilation of lessons learned, particularly regarding opportunities for institutional capacity building to facilitate the implementation of strategies for the coordination of a security policy to address common security threats to defense and national security.

Mr. Chairman as the 6 precious minutes attributed to my delegation disappeared 2 minutes ago, I wish to close by reminding everyone present of the wonderful motivational line of the song beautifully sang to us at the cultural presentation on Sunday evening and which I will add to:

Trabajamos juntos
Para una America unida
y segura!

Let us work together
Fora united
And safe America!

I thank you.