On 15 November 2021, the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) hosted the regional webinar on ‘Combatting Ghost Guns’. The objective of the webinar was to discuss the fabrication methodology of privately made firearms, their parts and components, share best practices for investigating privately made firearms, and review the implications of these illicit firearms on forensic analysis.

Eleven CARICOM states, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Bahamas, Belize, Grenada, Guyana, Jamaica, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Suriname and Trinidad and Tobago were invited for the webinar. Over 30 officials, including 16 women, from the ministries of Foreign Affairs, National Security/ Home Affairs, Ministry of Finance, Police Forces, Defence Forces, Forensic Laboratories, Public Prosecutors Offices, Intelligence Agencies and Customs of the 11 CARICOM States actively participated in the regional webinar.

UNLIREC presented on the characteristics of privately made illicit firearms also known as ghost guns, the materials and tools required to manufacture illicit firearms, important considerations for firearms investigators and shared international experience with investigations of ghost guns. In addition, important recommendations to consider during firearms and toolmark examination of privately made illicit firearms for forensic examiners were highlighted. UNLIREC recognized that the phenomenon of privately made illicit firearms, has not been reported by Caribbean States as prevalent in the region, however, it has the potential add to insecurity. Furthermore, the importance of collaboration between all stakeholders including law enforcement agencies, forensic departments, judiciary, and policy makers to effectively combat privately made illicit firearms was highlighted throughout the webinar.

This regional webinar, carried out in line with the 2001 UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Sustainable Development Goal 16.4, contributes towards the implementation of Goal 3 of the Caribbean Firearms Roadmap, Bolster law enforcement capacity to combat illicit firearms and ammunition trafficking and their illicit possession and misuse, and ammunition, and ultimately reducing firearms-related crimes and armed violence in the Caribbean.

This webinar was generously sponsored by the United States of America. It forms part of a series of five regional webinars under the US-funded project ‘Combating of Illicit Firearms and Ammunition Trafficking in the Caribbean’.

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.