CARICOM official calls for new remedies for illicit drugs

Dr. Edward Green

CARICOM Secretariat (Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, Guyana) – “The time has come to consider a change in our approaches to the global fight against drugs. We must act now to find new remedies.”

This was the essence of the challenge made by Dr Edward Greene, CARICOM Secretariat’s Assistant Secretary-General for Human and Social Development to the Drugs Summit of the Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean which opened in Spain last Wednesday morning.

The Summit was convened to address threats to security within the Latin American and the Caribbean regions and to make appropriate recommendations in dealing with those threats.

In providing a context for his recommendations, Dr Greene enumerated a plethora of security issues affecting the Caribbean, chief of which was crime and violence, which he said posed a “clear and present danger’ to the Caribbean. Others include drug trafficking, trafficking in human beings; trafficking in firearms; smuggling of migrants; money laundering and murder.”

He explained further that the enormity of the situation had prompted CARICOM Heads of Government to place security alongside Economic Integration, Foreign Policy Co-ordination and Functional Co-operation as a main pillar of the integration movement. In this regard, he explained that the Community had established a new architecture for crime and security which included a ministerial body – the Council for National Security and Law Enforcement (CONSLE) – and an Implementation Agency for Crime and Security (IMPACS) to focus specifically on challenges and solution to crime and violence in the Region.

Dr Greene pointed out however that notwithstanding the mechanisms in place, there was still an urgent need for further action, and called for new remedies for crime and security within the Caribbean Community.

He implied further that interdiction and eradication efforts had failed to decrease the global supply of drugs and that punitive methods had reaped very little success in lowering drug use. The assistant Secretary-General proffered a three-pronged policy driven approach that the Caribbean had adopted in fighting illicit drugs and illicit trafficking. These are: the adoption of a multidimensional approach, international cooperation and capacity building and research.

The multi-dimensional approach acknowledges that security of the hemisphere include political, economic, social, health and environmental factors and is rooted in the Declaration of Bridgetown 2006, which recognises the “inextricable link between economic disenfranchisement, poverty, conflict, apathy and disillusionment of our citizens,” and agrees that those risk factors could produce “the root causes of terrorism.”

According to Dr Greene, the multi-dimensional approach to security for CARICOM now encompassed “extreme poverty and social exclusion of broad sectors of the population, natural and man made disasters, HIV/AIDS and other health risks and climate change in all its manifestations.” Inherent in all those challenges, he explained, was the risk of social instability which in turn provided a platform for security concerns.

The second policy approach, according to Dr Greene, emphasised international cooperation. In this regard, he underscored the need to establish comprehensive strategic partnerships with extra-regional forces as a deliberate regional security strategy.

Thirdly, Dr Greene pointed to the work of the CARICOM Secretariat in tandem with National Drug Councils and the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) to enhance the Region’s capacity in developing anti-drug strategies and plans, as an example of how capacity building through training could assist in drug demand reduction.

He added that CARICOM had also agreed on the development of a regional human resource strategy for crime and security, which would consist of two components: one was the establishment of a Caribbean Institute of Security and Law Enforcement Studies (CISLES), and a proposal by the University of the West Indies (UWI) to establish an Institute of Criminal Justice and Security (ICJS).

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