Institute for National Strategic Studies – Multidimensional Security Perspective

Good morning. I want to thank the INSS Center for Strategic Studies for putting this Seminar together. It is a pleasure and honor to join this distinguished panel of colleagues who are all here because we understand the imperative of regional and international cooperation to enhance security in the Caribbean.

For clarity reasons, I will take a couple of seconds to briefly explain the mission and structure of my Secretariat. Created in 2005, the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security is tasked with coordinating political, technical and practical cooperation among member states and other Inter-American and international organizations to analyze, prevent, confront and respond to emerging threats to national and citizen security.

Multidimensional Security looks at new definitions of shared sovereignty; definitions of a state and multistate hood; and a new contract with citizens; rights and obligations

Politically speaking, the Secretariat receives mandates from the Summit of the Americas, from the annual general assembly, as well as from our Permanent Council and its working groups. In fact we are currently working on a drug study; TOC plan mandated at the last summit.  

To fulfill these mandates and other obligations, the Secretariat’s has technical bodies; (the Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), the Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE), the Department of Public Security (DPS) and the Inter American Defense Board (IADB). Each of these technical bodies has its own set of networks to address key themes such as: border and maritime security, cyber security, money laundering and terrorism financing, forensics, prisons, arms trafficking, drugs, and organized crime and terrorism, among others. These networks are made up of our country specialists and are in my view our real force multipliers.

In my tenure as Secretary of Multidimensional Security we have tried to build practical solutions that connect to the political and technical platform that we have at our disposal.   The plethora of activities we carry out is united by a common p       hilosophy, which we have termed “smart security.”  Smart security is: a) an objective, evidence-based diagnosis of the problem, b) creation of proposals based on national and regional needs and capabilities, implemented in alliance with all relevant actors, c) a multidimensional and multi stakeholder focus ensuring systematic problem-solving, and d) a rigorous evaluation of results and indicatives.

What are the risks we perceive? 

The Inter-American Development Bank estimates that Latin America’s per capita GDP would be 25% higher if the region’s crime rate were reduced to the world average- this begs the question: what would the figure be for this region?

It is well known that crime is bad for business. Crime increases costs; it drives away investment and forces states to re-direct their already limited resources towards security. Overall, this slows down growth, hindering economic development. This is an especially great concern in the Caribbean, where economies are dependent upon service industries, such as tourism, and States are highly sensitive to rising crime.

One of the driving forces of crime is the impact of intra-regional trafficking, in drugs, firearms and persons. Due to the Caribbean’s geographical vulnerabilities – vast coastlines and territorial waters – drugs and illegal materials flow easily through the region.

With that in mind, coupled with the fact that there is slow job creation and lots of idle youth who are dissatisfied with the delivery of state-run services, many islanders find themselves drawn towards the informal sector, and working in areas where they can operate independently and make high profits. This has fuelled the emergence of a gang culture. Demographic dividend has become a drain.     

What can we do about the problems? SMART SECURITY

The solution to the problem of insecurity is not necessarily more security; police, troops, heavy-handed anti-crime legislation. We know that we are not going to arrest or bludgeon our way out of the problem.  Rather, we need to refocus on a humanistic approach on areas like prevention, keeping the kids out of the gangs in the first place. And, while we need to ensure that those who do commit a crime are effectively punished, we should also strive to guarantee that said punishment is humane and that it fosters the reintegration of offenders back into society to hopefully lead useful and productive lives.

There is significant potential in the region to come up with the type of solutions we are encouraging. In one country, with a very small grant from the OAS, a dedicated individual working out of the PM’s office built a national prevention strategy – the power of linking up networks of families, communities, education, NGO’s, church groups and businesses to build a resilient community was considerable.

Our POETA program, and the youth orchestra program we lead are examples of targeted interventions for at risk youth – to keep them off the streets, away from drugs, and to promote civic education and community development.  We’ve teamed up with private sector businesses like Microsoft to launch a technical and vocational trainings program for unemployed/underemployed youth.

Already underway in the Caribbean (A&B, Dominica, Granada, St. Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines), we launched a similar initiative in El Salvador. Building on the recent gang truce, we have already begun discussions in some Caribbean countries about a similar approach.


The same applies to law enforcement. I think frankly we too often play a numbers game and that perhaps our indicators are to blame. In my view it is not just a question of how many policemen you have per 100 thousand of population, but rather what kind of policemen. In the case of one country – not to be replicated – we were able to determine that out of approximately 15,000 police officers, only about 8 thousand of them were actually operating as police. The rest were either patronage appointments or policemen earning two or three salaries. I have also seen successful models where professional police services, with proper standards and structure, who are well recruited, well trained and certified, remunerated commensurate to the risk and vocation, are far more likely to have a positive relationship with the community, be less corrupt and solve more crimes.

Similarly, we have seen overcrowded prisons and detention centers because the judicial system does not have the capability to process the numbers. Throwing people into jail might be a short term or immediate fix, but the mid to long term costs are incalculable and it is well documented that sending juveniles to the best university of crime does not generate happy long term outcomes. Aside from gang recruitment, prisons and correctional centers are struggling with overcrowding, poor sanitary conditions and documented cases of mistreatment

It is time to look at innovative solutions like drug treatment courts (DTCs) or other alternatives to incarceration. DTCs have proved to be an effective mechanism for treating addicts. Drug courts keep individuals in intensive treatment and close supervision for at least 1 year – this is long enough for it to work and there are clear and tangible results: in various countries, DTCs have effectively reduced crime, drug use and recidivism as well as prison populations, and have contributed to lowering the high costs associated with legal proceedings.  We have existing DTC teams in Jamaica and new centers in Trinidad & Tobago and Suriname and now Barbados./Scale problems.

Next Steps

I am the first to recognize that our work is still largely incomplete.  Over the past few years, the risks and threats faced by Caribbean islands have become increasingly interconnected. Today, criminality in one member state will likely have repercussions in neighboring islands and countries.

This new security scenario will require new models based on standards and a more coordinated regional approach to security and strong leadership. For smaller jurisdictions there is the need to share and combine capabilities shared sovereignty. Is it necessary to have a forensics lab in every country/province or state? Is it possible and feasible to develop a regional cyber security capability? How can we better link up our law enforcement, military and coast guard capabilities? (challenges of defence; staff of T&T land mass) In areas where resources are not readily accessible, sharing information and resources is crucial. We also know we need better knowledge and intelligence, tools for identifying problems, observatories with common methodologies and structure and information-sharing networks. One police commissioner: 50 police

SMS has developed a series of programs to address these areas. We established a pilot program for security sector diagnosis to assess the security risks of a given national security system. Unlike other security sector evaluations, the diagnosis carried out under “smart security” focused on the relationship between various institutions of a security system – between the public and private bodies, and between government sectors, including the police, judiciary, and social programs. The assessment concluded with a confidential report submitted to government officials, analyzing the weaknesses and possible means of strengthening their security system. In all the assessments, the final reports recommended actions to improve inter-sectorial communication and more effective coordination efforts.

We also have well-established national observatories on Drugs and Citizen Security. Throughout the year we collect and analyze crime and drug-related data, and publish our findings. These annual reports can be easily accessed on the SMS website. We are willing to share our standardized methodology and even input the data.

Like we are doing for the Attorneys General in Central America, we can also share a secure communication platform across the Caribbean, if that would help.

These are just some ideas and I am sure there are more. We need to identify the best practice models and standards, new indicators document them and, if they are fit for purpose, then look at their transferability from one jurisdiction to another. A further example of this effort is a landmark agreement which we have signed with AMERIPOL and currently have two police liaison officers in my Secretariat to begin documenting successful policing practices and models that can be shared across jurisdictions.

Bottom line – Solutions must be built on an accurate diagnosis of the problems, tailored to the local environment, and must adopt a multi stakeholder horizontal approach in its delivery and evaluation. The international community needs to do a much better job of coordination. We are working closely with colleagues both regionally (such as CARICOM-IMPACS) and internationally (most recently with the Kingdom of the Netherlands) to build what I hope will be a common action plan. Through this we hope to leverage the strength of each organization to build a much  tighter and coordinated response.– multidimensional security to re define some sovereignty, difficulties of a state…citizens, rights & obligations.  

I thank you for the opportunity to learn from your experiences and to discuss how we can do this better.

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