WASHINGTON, DC – The Organization of American States (OAS) and the governments of Guyana and Ecuador today signed an agreement for the execution of the project to Promote Firearms Marking in Latin America and the Caribbean, part of the Inter-American Convention Against Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms (CIFTA).
The agreement was signed by the Secretary General of the Organization, José Miguel Insulza, on behalf of the hemispheric organization; the Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the OAS, Ambassador María Isabel Salvador; the Permanent Representative of Guyana to the OAS, Ambassador Bayney R. Karran; and Steve Costner, Deputy Director of Weapons Removal and Abatement (WRA) in the Government of the United States, which finances these efforts.
During the ceremony, held at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC, Secretary General Insulza said he was pleased by the signing of this instrument, and noted that since “firearms trafficking is one of our main concerns” in the framework of the efforts by Member States of the OAS to promote security among their citizens. Firearms marking, he continued, “is an essential step in helping law enforcement trace recovered firearms used in crimes, as well as identify trafficking routes and traffickers. We hope that all countries of the Organization can be included in this project, and that way we will contribute to creating a safer environment for all our citizens.”
For her part, the Ecuadorian Representative, Ambassador María Isabel Salvador, thanked the efforts of the OAS and in particular those of the Secretariat for Multidimensional Security “for the effort, the drive and dedication you have put in to be able to finalize this important agreement.” Said agreement, she emphasized, “will represent an important contribution for the government of Ecuador in firearms control” and reflects “the commitment of Ecuador to make strides in this process, which involves the control of violence, of crime and of the use of firearms in our country.”
Ambassador Karran of Guyana said the signing of the agreement “is an example of Guyana’s commitment to hemispheric cooperation in order to reduce the scourge of crime and violence, which afflicts our region and many instances of which are committed by firearms that are acquired illegally.” Furthermore, he reiterated that “the Government of Guyana remains committed to combating crime in general, particularly that involving the use of firearms. Our extended borders make initiatives such as this one immensely important for public security in our country.”
The American Representative, Steve Costner, congratulated all Member States of the OAS who have signed the agreement and in particular on this occasion Guyana and Ecuador for their efforts to face the threats of crime and violence perpetrated by the illegal trafficking of firearms. “The United States is pleased to be able to fund this effort and we are proud to join the Member States in this inter-American community effort.”
Also present at the ceremony were the Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin; the Permanent Representative of Guatemala and Chair of the Permanent Council, Jorge Skinner-Klee; and the OAS Secretary for Multidimensional Security, Ambassador Adam Blackwell.
To date, 13 other governments of the region have signed a Cooperation Agreement with the OAS to initiate this program: Barbados, The Bahamas, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Uruguay, Paraguay, Saint Lucia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vicente and the Grenadines, and Trinidad and Tobago. It is hoped that more than 50,000 firearms throughout the Hemisphere will be marked during the period 2011-2012 as a result of this effort.