Remarks by Ambassador Odeen Ishmael, Permanent Representative of Guyana, at the Special Session of the General Assembly of the OAS to Approve the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and the Trafficking of Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and Other Related Material
Washington D.C., November 13 -14, 1997

Posted June 23rd. 2005

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Secretary General, Mr. Assistant Secretary General, Distinguished Heads of Delegations, Members of Delegations, Ladies and Gentlemen . . .

In their speeches earlier this afternoon, the Honourable Ministers of Antigua and Barbuda and Jamaica expressed views supported by the delegation of Guyana. However, I wish to echo my delegation's gratitude to the governments of Mexico and Jamaica for the sterling efforts they have made in ensuring that we now have an Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and the Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and other Related Materials.

Mr. Chairman, we have seen in my country, and other countries of our region, a proliferation of criminal activities involving not only just the use of firearms, but the use of sophisticated firearms and explosive devices which could only have entered our countries through illicit trafficking. Usually the criminals are better armed than our own security forces that have to combat them. Without a doubt, too, the criminal use of such tools of illegality also has a direct relation to the expansion of narcotics trafficking through our countries. So when we fight illicit manufacture of and illicit trafficking of firearms, ammunition and explosives, we must also keep in mind that we have also to grapple with the underlying task of combatting the producers, traffickers and pushers of illegal drugs as well.

One of the sad facts is that criminal elements deported from developed countries, where there is much sophistication in technology, including weapon technology, take back some of this knowledge to our countries and apply it, with the use of illicit weapons, in continuing their parasitic occupation.

The horrifying aspect of the use of illicit firearms by criminal elements is that it has the capability of destroying the security of our states, by its undermining of our institutions and our democracy as well.

So, Mr. Chairman, while we applaud the Organization of American States for bringing about this Convention, we also have to understand that we all have the added joint responsibility of making the Convention work. This Convention must not just be a historical document to gloat over and to file away for future generations of researchers to read in years to come. It must be a living Convention which has to generate positive action by all countries of our hemisphere to ensure that stringent methods are applied to enforce the terms of this document - to bring an end to the illicit manufacturing of and the trafficking of these weeds of destruction which are being implanted by anti-social elements, fuelled by drug profits and the lure of ill-gotten gains, to ravage our economies, terrorise our people, and endanger our democratic culture, and our national and regional security.

Countries like mine, Mr. Chairman, will obviously need assistance in the training of our police and security forces and our Customs department if they are to be properly equipped to enforce the demands of this Convention. It also means that added state budgetary allocations have to be provided at a time when we are undergoing structural adjustment, which calls for budgetary constraints, and when we are trying to reorganise our economic system to prepare for hemispheric free trade.

Smaller economies like Guyana will need the help of developed countries with the technological sophistication to, not only provide training for our police force and customs officers, but also to provide appropriate tools and equipment to match the efforts of their counterparts in the developed countries. I look forward to seeing expanded cooperation in this respect.

Thank you.


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