Orginazation of American States Assembly
Basseterre, Saint Kitts – Nevis
June 09, 2008 (CUOPM)
St. Kitts and Nevis has sponsored a resolution on crime and violence at the just concluded General Assembly of the Organisation of American States (OAS) in Medellin, Colombia.
The resolution, which was co-sponsored by the CARICOM States and supported by all member states of the Western Hemispheric body, places the issue of Crime and Violence squarely on the agenda of the OAS, which has now resolved to take certain actions with regard to this escalating phenomenon that, is negatively impacting the quality of life in all member states.
The Resolution, presented by St. Kitts and Nevis Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. the Hon. Timothy Harris, recognises the implications of crime and violence for the social, economic and political development of member states and, while being fully aware of the necessity for a criminal justice-focused approach in particular circumstances, cautions against an over-reliance on this approach, advocating instead a preventive public health approach in conjunction with citizen security strategies.
The public health approach, it is understood, does not replace criminal justice and human rights responses to violence but rather complements their activities and offers them additional tools and sources of collaboration.
The General Secretariat of the OAS has been mandated to support initiatives by member states, in actions aimed at preventing and comprehensively addressing the phenomenon of violence in its diverse forms and to keep the Committee on Hemispheric Security, which has oversight on such issues, informed on all ongoing and planned related activities.
St. Kitts and Nevis currently Chairs the OAS Committee on Hemispheric Security. As such St. Kitts and Nevis has been in a position to influence the Hemispheric Security Agenda of the OAS particularly within the context of the multidimensional security framework which is wide in scope and, along with the Department of Public Security, includes the work of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD), and the Inter-American Commission Against Terrorism (CICTE).
In addition to crime and violence prevention, among the other issues considered by the Public Security arm of the Committee on Hemispheric Security over the past year were: natural disaster reduction and risk management; execution of the hemispheric plan of action against trans-national organized crime; promotion of Hemispheric cooperation in dealing with criminal gangs; disarmament and non-proliferation education; trafficking in persons, drugs and firearms, and the special security concerns of the small island states of the Caribbean.
A Meeting of Hemispheric Ministers with Responsibility for Public Security has been convoked, to be held in Mexico in October 2008. Violence prevention will be foremost on the agenda of that meeting.
The resolution requests the Committee on Hemispheric Security to hold, in the first quarter of 2009, a meeting that includes the participation of experts appointed by member states, on matters relating to the prevention of crime and violence.