On 1 December 2016, UNLIREC presented the findings of its study entitled “Less Lethal Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean – Challenges and Opportunities” at the UN Common House in Lima, Peru, to a diverse crowd of governmental agencies, the diplomatic corps, private security companies, civil society, academia, and officials from the Peruvian National Police.

The study analyzes the approaches to less lethal weapons in the region and their role in maintaining public security. It also identifies the main actors, risks, challenges and good practices, as well as the possibility of States to incorporate less lethal weapons into the equipment of security forces and regulate their use by citizens and security companies, all the while respecting international standards of human rights and the use of force. The objective of the research is to contribute to the debate on the legality, feasibility and impact of using these type of weapons.

Less-lethal weapons are devices designed to generate a specific effect that will temporarily neutralize or incapacitate the recipient of the impact without causing death. These types of weapons are used in numerous countries in Latin America and the Caribbean by actors with an institutional mandate to maintain and monitor public order.

The study arises in the context of the institutional mandate of UNLIREC, which links disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control measures with other frameworks to promote peace and security, such as Objective 16 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). SDG 16 urges States to promote peaceful and inclusive societies and to facilitate access to justice, as well as create effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels. While Objective 16.4, in particular, calls on States to reduce all types of violence, related death rates, and illicit arms and financial flows.

The event concluded with a dynamic debate on the different aspects to consider when improving regulation and training on less lethal weapons. In particular, the need to incorporate the control and regulation of these type of weapons within the national legal framework, identify which entities should authorize the use of these devices, and determine in which situations these weapons can and should be used.

The development of this study has been possible thanks to the financial support of the Government of the Federal Republic of Germany. Through its assistance, UNLIREC supports the Latin American and Caribbean States in the implementation of the United Nations Program of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons in All Its Aspects (UN PoA 2001).