United Nations General Assembly resolution (A/RES/65/69) recognizes the specific contribution of women at the local, national, regional and sub-regional levels in the prevention and reduction of armed violence in non-conflict contexts. The United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) has continuously championed women as “forces of change” and is providing States with the necessary tools to incorporate gender perspectives into small arms control and disarmament efforts.

It was within this context that UNLIREC undertook a specialized course on managing firearms and ammunition as evidence in collaboration with the Government of the Dominican Republic from 4-6 April in Santo Domingo. The UNLIREC developed and designed course was led by an all-women team comprised of three Latin American women who are at the top of their respective fields, including Pamela Romero from Mexico (crime scene management), and Arabeska Sanchez from Honduras (forensic ballistics) and Natasha Leite from Brazil (armed violence reduction). The 22 course participants honed their capabilities to manage and properly handle firearms and ammunition as evidence at crime scenes, and address the due sequencing of procedures at these scenes. Skills transferred during the course will improve national tracing procedures and facilitate the implementation of international firearms instruments adhered to by the Dominican Republic. Course participants acknowledged that – in stark contrast to previous years – over half of the forensic ballistic teams at the Institute of Forensic Sciences and the Scientific Police are female firearms examiners. The same gender parity was reflected in the course with half of the eight firearms examiners present being women. “Curiosity”, it was said, and “vocation are better indicators of success in the field than gender”. The course also highlighted the interaction between technical considerations and the social, cultural and institutional contexts in which they take place.

This training course was carried out within the framework of UNLIREC’s operational forensic ballistics project in the Caribbean. This project is supported financially by both the government of the United States and the government of Canada.

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 UN 2001 Programme of Action on Small Arms.

For more information on UNLIREC visit (www.unlirec.org). Please direct all questions or inquiries to Amanda Cowl, Political Affairs Officer (cowl@unlirec.org).