A Multidimensional Security Perspective: CABSEC 15, The Bahamas

Good morning. I want to once again thank the organizers of the CABSEC conference. It is as much a pleasure to enjoy the warm hospitality of the Bahamas as it is an honour to join this diverse group of colleagues.  We are all here because we understand the imperative of regional and international cooperation to enhance security in the Caribbean.

I would like to break down this brief presentation into four parts: who we are and what we have been doing, some of the risks we perceive, what we can do to address the problems and some possible next steps.

Who we are

For those who are not familiar with the work of the Organization of American States, I will take a couple of minutes to briefly explain the mission and structure of my Secretariat. Created in 2005, as a direct response to the 2003 Declaration on Security in the Americas, the mission of the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security is to coordinate 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.

Politically speaking, the Secretariat receives direct mandates from the Heads of States and the Summit process, from the annual general assembly, from our Permanent Council and its working groups (such as the Committee on Hemispheric Security), and from our three ministerial organs: the Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas-MISPA, the Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas-REMJA,  and the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas- CDMA.

To fulfill these mandates and other obligations, the Secretariat’s three 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) and the Department of Public Security (DPS) are charged with the implementation of declarations produced at the ministerial meetings and of resolutions passed by the OAS General Assembly. 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. I mention this, as our activities align with the wishes of our member states.

In my tenure as Secretary of Multidimensional Security, at the Organization of American States 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 philosophy, which we have termed “smart security.” Smart security dictates that all Secretariat actions entail 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.

What are the risks we perceive? 

Our experience throughout the region indicates that there are indeed multiple threats to our national and citizen security and this in turn impacts economic and political stability at an enormous cost to development. I am not going to get into the litany of statistics; needless to say this region is too often at the top of the tables– for the wrong reasons.

Most of you will have heard the cliché “think local and go global” – well, this works for crime as well. Fuelled by the same forces of globalization that drive trade, communications and information, large and small criminal enterprises have an unprecedented influence on the lives and affairs of ordinary people, multinational companies and governments. At the World Economic Forum I Chair the Meta-Council on the Illicit Economy, rather than getting lost in dubious numbers we have started to think of the global illicit economy as if it were a G8 country with an economy growing faster than the rest. The cross-border flow of global proceeds from criminal activities, corruption and tax evasion etc is estimated at over US$ 3.7 trillion, with illegal drugs and counterfeit goods accounting for 8% of world trade.

As crime increases, so does the cost of doing business, which in turn reduces competitiveness and undermines social and community cohesion at the local level. This is even more of a concern in the Caribbean region, where the threats are many and the scale and capacity to respond is a challenge. I have to fly back today as tomorrow we are hosting a meeting in DC on Small Island States and their particular security challenges – this is a misnomer as their landmass may be small but their air and maritime borders are huge! This creates a challenge especially in this era where transnational criminal enterprises are moving more products; drugs, guns, money and people, through these maritime routes. As we all know, the more illicit activity that flow through a jurisdiction, the greater the reward in guns and drugs for the facilitators of this illicit trade. With so much at stake, crime and gang violence have tragically become all too common fixtures in many Caribbean countries.

What can we do about the problems?

Earlier, I introduced you to the concept of “smart security”, and some of the main premises that it is based upon. But this notion of smart security also involves more innovative and creative approaches to tackling crime.

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 our way out of the problem.  Rather, we need to focus on areas like prevention – for instance, 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 lead useful and productive lives. This community and restorative focus is our lesson from more than 10 years of field work in Colombia, including decades of work in de-mining.

The same smart security model 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 the population, but rather what kind of policemen. I have 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.

In response to the need for improved law enforcement we are continuing to support the implementation of the Inter-American Network for Police Development and Professionalization, a five-year program designed from a systemic, knowledge management perspective. The specific and renewed focus of this project being the development of training curricula for face-to-face and virtual training of police, and the establishment of a permanent network for cooperation and information and knowledge exchange among police officers. We are also developing an ISO Certification program for Excellence in Police Quality Management; borrowing good tools and practices from the private sector.  We think that this will be a quantum leap forward in the way police forces are managed and in the service they provide.

We have also witnessed overcrowded prisons and detention centers throughout the region as struggling judicial systems do 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 positive outcomes. Aside from overcrowding, prisons and correctional centres are struggling with gang recruitment, poor sanitary conditions and documented cases of mistreatment

We are focused on other 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 – a long enough time frame for there to be 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.  This program brings together key actors from across the political spectrum, including justice, the executive branch, health, education, social services, and civil society, in a unique partnership. Currently we have 2 DTCs in Jamaica, 2 in Trinidad and Tobago and 1 in Barbados. Belize and the Bahamas are also participating in the program albeit in the early stages. In addition, through DTC initiatives we have trained upwards of 400 professionals from the legal, justice, law enforcement, and policy-making fields, in line with the OAS Drug Report of 2013.

The OAS also has a very successful program in the region called PROCCER. It is essentially a train-the-trainer program in prevention strategies. The independently evaluated results are most encouraging, as they show that those working with populations at risk are twice as likely to succeed if they are well trained and certified. Businesses too can work with community groups to promote “social networking”, helping them build a sense of community pride and share information about problems in their neighborhoods (for example where drugs are being sold). This information then helps law enforcement officials in their allocation of scarce resources.

Similarly, in Jamaica we are working on a very interesting project with young remandees; a project with our Department of Public Security, the Trust of the America’s, one of our foundations, the private sector and of course Jamaican authorities. The program is called “A New Path” and is designed to prepare young women and men in juvenile remand centers for successful reintegration into society. The Program will provide training in marketable technical skills and life, along with individual psychosocial attention. Juvenile remandees will also be provided individual follow-up for six to twelve months after their release. These are the kinds of interventions that are needed if we are serious about breaking the cycle of recidivism and violence that our societies are dealing with today.

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 strong leadership, new models based on standards, and a more coordinated regional approach to security. As I have said in the past, for smaller jurisdictions there is the need to share and combine capabilities. Which is why I am delighted to see so many nations and institutions here.

We also know we need better knowledge and intelligence, tools for identifying problems, observatories with common methodologies and structure and information-sharing networks. In this regard, the OAS has been working to build capacity in the area of counter-drug intelligence. With the cooperation of the Government of Colombia, the OAS has established a regional counter-drug intelligence school in Latin America and it is currently working with the Government of Trinidad and Tobago to establish a similar school in the Caribbean.

The OAS is also continuing other targeted regional security interventions towards drug control that build on past successes.  These tailored programs – which fully support member states’ implementation of our Hemispheric Drug Strategy and Plan of Action 2011-2015 – target a number of the most urgent gaps in Caribbean and Central American institutional development.

In the Supply Control area, the program directly supports security interests in the Caribbean by:

1) Enhancing the capacity of host country authorities to identify and interdict narcotic shipments;

2)  Focusing host country authorities on new drug threats (such as synthetics and internet sales) which directly affect tourism, business and security interests; and

3)  Supporting overall economic and social stability in the Caribbean region by strengthening host country law enforcement capabilities and preventing victimization from drug consumption.

Specific project proposals build on CICAD’s strengths in chemical controls, New Psychoactive Substances (NPS), and internet sales and synthetic drugs – cutting edge issues on which we have established a solid record of regional cooperation through our leadership of a hemispheric group of experts and our strong links with top flight trainers and analysts in Canada, the Us and Europe.

In the Demand Reduction area, we are proposing to build on a very successful multi-stakeholder model in the Caribbean that has forged country-specific and regional teams that bring together Ministries of Health, National Drug Commissions, universities and civil society in a unique partnership to upgrade training and certification of baseline drug treatment counselors, working with the victims of drug abuse and consumption.  The next step within this framework involves implementing specialized prevention and treatment tracks that address the unique challenges faced specifically and disproportionately by youth and women.

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, through a secure communication platform across countries, and even input the data.

Our Secretariat has developed a series of programs to strengthen security sector institutions. 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-sectoral communication and more effective coordination efforts; essential in our work in Colombia, Central America and Mexico, to connect citizens to their institutions in a non-confrontational way.

Our current and future work is also focused on other areas related to regional security. To continue to develop the capacity of our Member States in border security and threat management, we have proposed a streamlined set of high impact, low cost projects that focus on addressing the major border security challenges in Latin America and the Caribbean.

A new phase of the Maritime Security program will focus on four key areas: (1) maritime domain awareness and port state control; (2) supply chain security; (3) risk assessment drills and exercises; and (4) information systems security. These areas will be addressed through trainings and crisis management exercises (CMEs) that place a significant emphasis on resilience and recovery during and after crises or trade disruptions. These exercises are aimed at enabling business’ continuity planning and maritime commerce resumption (MCR). In addition, we have prepared a maritime security proposal focusing on conducting evaluations and follow-up trainings on ISPS code in significant ports in Mexico, Panama, Belize, and Costa Rica.  This proposal represents a unique trilateral initiative between Canada, Mexico, and CICTE, leveraging the expertise and resources of both countries.

The next phase of our Customs and Immigration Security program addresses trade security in major South American, Central America, and Caribbean ports. Building on previous trade security initiatives, this project will focus on providing training on container and cargo ship security for customs and port security officers. By employing a train-the-trainer approach, this initiative will focus on risk assessment and inspection techniques for both containerized goods and the infrastructure of the ships that carry them.

Today, when we think of sovereign territory, we also have to consider cyberspace and I am sure you are aware that Caribbean financial institutions and critical infrastructure service providers are no longer strangers to cyber attacks and hacking incidents. These threats are no longer theoretical and the response requires a level of technical sophistication that can be a challenge for any country, including small island states. Through the OAS Cyber Security Program, we have been working along with member states in the Caribbean to increase resilience through the development of national cyber security strategies and the establishment of Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs). Presently we are assisting Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Belize, Suriname, Dominica and the Bahamas to develop and implement strategies and institutions and to build resilience to cybercrime.

These are just some ideas and I am sure there are more. We need to identify the best practice models and standards, 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 to place two police liaison officers in my Secretariat to begin documenting successful policing practices and models that can be shared across jurisdictions.

The Bottom line is – 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.

In closing, I wish to thank the organizers of this event and you the audience, for the opportunity to present for your consideration a sampling of the important work that the OAS and its Secretariat for Multidimensional Security are doing to advance security in the Caribbean.

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