UNLIREC and UNV launch new SDG Project in Trinidad and Tobago

The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) and the United Nations Volunteers Programme (UNV) conducted its first training workshop for young volunteer leaders in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago from 13-15 June. Colombia, Honduras, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago will be the four countries from the region to benefit from this initiative.

The purpose of this project is to contribute to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and to improve the skills of young volunteer leaders with regards to SDG 16, peace, security and disarmament so that they may be able to propose indicators (developed through participatory methodology) to measure these phenomena. SDG 16 is dedicated to the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice for all, and the creation of effective and accountable institutions at all levels. It includes targets for reducing illicit arms flows, all forms of violence and related deaths, and ensuring participatory decision-making. Specifically, goal 16.4 establishes the intrinsic relationship between development and flows of illicit arms.

The pilot workshop in Trinidad and Tobago was attended by fifteen young volunteers representing volunteer organisations who are leading the promotion of the 2030 Agenda at the community level in Trinidad and Tobago. The sessions were facilitated by UNLIREC, the UNV Regional Office, and the young volunteer who serves as focal point for this project. The workshop addressed the different dimensions and scope of violence, peace, human security and disarmament and introduced practical tools to convert their perceptions of these phenomena into valuable indicators for their measurement.

The workshop initiates the project, whose activities will continue until December 2017 in the four countries. During this time, not only will participatory indicators for SDG 16 be developed, but these will be validated by the youth in their communities and presented to the main local and regional government authorities with the aim of giving greater visibility and recognition to the role the youth can play in the promotion of more peaceful, just and inclusive societies through volunteering.

UNLIREC and Peru come together to combat the presence of firearms in school

On 6 December, UNLIREC organized a seminar entitled “International Initiatives for Prevention and Action regarding Presence of Firearms in Schools” in Trujillo, Peru. The seminar formed part of the United Nations Joint Programme for Human Security.

In the course of the past years, the different forms of violence that affect school environments in Latin America and the Caribbean have attracted the attention and concern of governments, international organizations, and the society in general. A number of studies have identified the presence of firearms in schools as a risk factor for violence, impacting negatively the physical and psychological security of both children and youth, as well as the teachers in the region.

The seminar organized by UNLIREC sought to create deeper understanding of this phenomenon and to develop solutions to address the challenge of firearms in schools, with attendance from roughly 80 participants.

The seminar outlined the series of initiatives and best practices found in Peru and in other countries in region that deal with the issue of firearms in schools. The emphasis was placed on exploring protocols, guidelines, and intervention mechanisms regarding the presence, carrying, and use of firearms in schools, drawing from the national experiences of Costa Rica, Argentina, and Mexico. Furthermore, the seminar also presented the participants with additional tools used in Peru and Guatemala, such as surveys and registers of violent incidents.

The seminar had broad participation, with representatives from the Ministries of Education, Foreign Affairs, and Interior, as well as from the regional, municipal, and district levels of the department of La Libertad. Also school directors, teachers, parents associations, youth from Trujillo were present and shared their views about combatting the challenge of firearms in schools.

UNLIREC carries out Executive Seminar and Shooting Incident Reconstruction training in Jamaica

From 6 – 10 November, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC), conducted two activities in Jamaica. The first was an Executive Seminar for eight executives of institutional clients of Forensic Ballistics on 6 November and the second, a pilot Shooting Incident Reconstruction training for seven Ballistic Experts of the Institute of Forensic Science and Legal Medicine in Kingston, Jamaica.

The Caribbean region continues to face persistent levels of armed violence, illicit trafficking of firearms and ammunition, and impunity in firearm related crimes. The increase of organized crime-related cases, sophisticated criminal networks and lack of trust in state institutions have made the general population less likely to come forward when witnessing firearms-related cases, thereby increasing the caseloads and responsibilities of firearms and tool mark examiners, crime scene officers and investigators throughout the region. Strengthening countries’ forensic ballistic investigative capabilities is essential to advancing the rule of law and to decrease impunity in firearms related cases.

The Executive Seminar with senior leadership of the Ministry of National Security discussed the recommendations made in UNLIREC’s 2015 National Assessment of Jamaica’s forensic ballistics capabilities. The seminar also reviewed the recommendations that have been implemented as well as areas for future assistance.

The shooting incident reconstruction course was designed for firearms and tool mark examiners, crime scene and other law enforcement personnel who are responsible for investigating or overseeing the investigation of shooting incidents. The course will assist national authorities to connect all the pieces of forensic evidence necessary for the reconstruction of shooting crime scenes, including: documenting physical evidence at shooting crime scenes; determining the flight path of projectiles; examining firearm discharge residue to estimate distance from the shooter to the victim/ and or final target.

The Pilot Exercise is subject to review, modification and correction by national authorities and by UNLIREC where necessary. Topics covered included health and safety in the forensic process, collecting and preserving evidence, diagraming the shooting scene, computer uses in shooting reconstruction, identifying bullet holes, determining bullet trajectory, exterior ballistics and bullet impacts and ricochet and sequence of fire, amongst others.

Equipment used in the training, resource material and reference targets with sample bullet holes were handed over to the Government of Jamaica.

UNLIREC, as the regional organ of the UN Office for Disarmament, seeks to advance the cause of practical disarmament in Latin America and the Caribbean as part of its commitment to support Member States in their implementation of international disarmament and non-proliferation instruments, in particular, the 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms.

UNLIREC trains legal practitioners in the combat of illicit firearms trafficking in Peru

Within the framework of the United Nations’ Joint Programme on Human Security, UNLIREC held a legal seminar on firearms control on 6 July, 2017 in the city of Trujillo (Northern Peru). With a view to contributing to the training needs of legal practitioners, UNLIREC trained more than 30 judges, prosecutors and public defenders in the province.

Firearms control norms are part of efficient regulatory frameworks for the appropriate regulation of legal trade and for combating the illicit trafficking of weapons. It is recommended that these norms comply with the related international instruments and treaties. Under this premise, the legal seminar shed light on the main international requirements for firearms and their equivalence within national regulations.

The event was attended by speakers from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in its capacity as President of the National Commission Against Illicit Trafficking in Firearms (CONATIAF), and the National Superintendence for the Control of Security Services, Arms, Ammunition and Explosives for Civilian Use (SUCAMEC).

During the seminar participants shared the challenges they face in prosecuting illicit arms trafficking cases due to the lack of information on the mechanisms available to process this specific crime. They also highlighted existing challenges in prosecuting the crime of illegal possession of firearms. In addition to knowledge sharing, discussions during the event contributed to strengthening the coordination, communication and cooperation of legal practitioners at the operational level.

UNLIREC is part of the United Nations’ Joint Programme for Human Security which works with public institutions and local authorities in Trujillo to reduce and prevent crime in general, gender violence and the involvement of adolescents in criminal activities.

UNLIREC supports Caribbean States in fulfilling their Arms Trade Treaty reporting obligations

The United Nations Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) held a Practical Seminar: Fulfilling Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) reporting obligations in the CARICOM region from 6-7 July in Bridgetown, Barbados.

The purpose of this Seminar was to provide practical insights into the Arms Trade Treaty’s reporting requirements in order to increment the submission rate and quality of ATT and other relevant reports on an annual basis by CARICOM States. Fifteen representatives from ten CARICOM states participated in the activity (Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and Suriname.)

The Permanent Secretary in the Office of the Attorney General in Barbados, Deborah Payne, participated in the opening ceremony of the Seminar, where she stated: “As representatives from a small island developing state, we can relate to the reporting burden which treaties demand. This concern has been raised by several member states….The adoption of comprehensive reporting templates and the making of public reporting mandatory have been key objectives of some member states. Barbados shares that view, but also asserts that consideration must be given to those states for whom reporting is a challenge”

The seminar was delivered by the UNLIREC Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Programme team and participants benefitted from technical experts from the governments of Sweden and Costa Rica, and the CARICOM Implementing Agency for Crime and Security. Presentations and practical exercises were designed to support them in preparing the initial and annual reports and understanding how to set up an ATT national control system.

This seminar forms part of UNLIREC’s Arms Trade Treaty Assistance Package and was entirely funded by the Government of Sweden. Through its assistance to Latin American and Caribbean States, UNLIREC supports improvements in peace, security, and in implementing the Arms Trade Treaty.

UNLIREC supports Colombia in its efforts towards ATT implementation

The United Nations Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) held a Practical Seminar for the Implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty from 6-7 April in Bogota, Colombia.

Representatives of the institutions that make up the National Coordination Committee for the Prevention, Combat, and Eradication of Illicit Trafficking in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All its Aspects (Comité TIA), participated in this seminar held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The seminar was delivered by the UNLIREC Non-Proliferation and Arms Control Programme team and attended by officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the National Directorate of Tax and Customs (DIAN, for its initials in Spanish), the National Police, the Arms Trade Control Department, The Military Industry (INDUMIL, for its initials in Spanish) and other representatives of the Ministry of Defense.

Participants received information aimed at incorporating treaty obligations into the national system that controls the international transfers of conventional arms, their ammunition, and their parts and components. UNLIREC presented various illustrations of control systems with a focus on the operations to be undertaken, their composition and functioning, as well as inter-institutional cooperation mechanisms, and examples of practices in other States at the regional and international levels.

In addition, a working session was devoted to presenting the methodology of an export evaluation, prepared by UNLIREC, which gathers a series of criteria and sources of information to analyze prior to authorizing an export request in accordance with the requirements of the Treaty.

This seminar forms part of UNLIREC’s project entitled ‘Mitigating the Risk of Arms Divergence to Reduce Armed Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean’, which is funded by the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. Through its assistance to Latin American and Caribbean States, UNLIREC supports improvements in peace, security, and in implementing the Arms Trade Treaty.