The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) presented the findings of its study entitled “Less Lethal Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean – Challenges and Opportunities” in the facilities of the Colombian National Police in Bogota on 5 April. This initiative was carried out at the request of the Colombian government to support the work performed by the National Coordination Committee for the Prevention, Combat and Eradication of Illicit Trafficking in Small Arms and Light Weapons (Comité TIA).

Less lethal weapons are devices designed to generate a specific and intermediary effect that will temporality neutralize or incapacitate the recipient of the impact without causing death. These types of weapons are used in numerous countries in Latin American and Caribbean by diverse actors with an institutional mandate to maintain and monitor public order in a variety of circumstances. Through this study, UNLIREC sheds light on the issue of less lethal weapons in the region and their role in citizen security, identifying 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 suitability of using these types of weapons.

Officials from the National Police, The Superintendence of Surveillance and Private Security, the Judicial Police, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Arms Trade Control Department, the Military Industry (INDUMIL) and other members of the Colombian defense sector attended the presentation of the study. The event concluded with an interesting debate between the participants on the different aspects to consider to achieve better regulation of less lethal weapons in Colombia. UNLIREC recommends that a classification for these types of elements be determined, which would facilitate the incorporation of the control and regulation of these types of weapons into the national legal framework.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as the president of the Comité TIA, will analyze the results of the presentation of the study, with the aim of continuing to support the process that will propose a normative framework for less lethal weapons, in line with its efforts to prevent, combat and eradicate illicit trafficking in small arms and light weapons in all its aspects.

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 2001 PoA).