Director General/Executive Director
Message of the Executive Director UNODC for the Thematic Debate on Security in Central America as a Regional and Global Challenge: How to Improve and Implement the Central American Security Strategy
16 May 2012
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure to have the opportunity to speak to you on the issue of Central America as a regional and global challenge.
I welcome the decision to hold this thematic debate on security in Central America before the General Assembly.
May I also express my regrets that I cannot be present today.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Central America faces major challenges from transnational organized crime and drug trafficking.
The threat is fuelling violence, eroding the rule of law, impairing economic development and undermining fundamental human rights.
Based on UNODC's figures, in 2010, nearly one third of the nearly 18,500 homicides in Central America were due to organized crime.
The international community needs to acknowledge the suffering of these countries due to the impact of drugs and crime.
It is the duty of the international community, including the United Nations, to do everything possible to provide assistance to the countries within the region.
However, increased assistance to countries in the region must be based within the framework of the drug and crime conventions.
The Conventions on Transnational Organized Crime and their protocols, as well as the Conventions on drugs and anti-Corruption, are grounded in international standards and human rights.
We must also recognize that, while Central America confronts some of the very worst aspects of these transnational issues, the solutions must be global.
I accept that the geographical location of Central America places the region between the drug origin countries of the South and the drug consumer countries of the North.
But no region exists in isolation. The multifaceted, interconnected nature of drugs and crime means that we are compelled to develop inter-regional approaches.
Like Central America, West and Central Africa is caught between producers in the Americas and consumers in Europe.
To assist, UNODC is concentrating on building connectivity between the Americas and West Africa.
The REFCO network of prosecutors in Central America is strengthening the criminal justice chain through best practices and information exchanges.
Funding is also enabling us to extend the REFCO network to West Africa. We are connecting the AIRCOP and container control programmes on both sides of the Atlantic.
At the international level, the UN Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking, is generating an effective and comprehensive inter-agency approach to drugs and crime.
UNODC is also focusing on a global strategy based on its integrated regional programmes.
Within Central America itself, we have created a Regional hub for Central America and the Caribbean in Panama to link with a re-profiled office in Mexico and other countries in the region.
At the tactical level, UNODC is establishing centres of excellence in Mexico on public security statistics and the Dominican Republic on prison reform and drug demand reduction.
The Panamanian government, with the technical support of UNODC, has also established a Regional Anti-Corruption Academy.
These projects are connected to UNODC's overall strategy to create a balanced approach when dealing with drug supply and demand. Through these initiatives, we are also building a strong sense of ownership among Member States.
To improve our understanding of the situation in Central America and the Caribbean, UNODC will also release a threat assessment for the region soon.
It is often too easy to see regions as being isolated.
Flowing from the drug Conventions, the concept of shared responsibility provides a solid foundation for joint support and assistance.
Together, the international community must work closely to support the countries of Central America.
In this spirit, UNODC supports the Regional Strategy for Central America, adopted at a meeting of Heads of State of Central America on 22 June 2011.
Through our regional programmes, we will provide technical assistance to help countries to counter the threat of drugs and crime.
But, if successes are to be achieved, every country, in every region, needs to provide more support.