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Statement to the United Nations General Assembly Thematic Debate on “Security in Central America as a Regional and Global Challenge: How to Promote and Implement the Central American Security Strategy”

Thematic issues

  • Drug Trafficking
  • Justice


Thematic Debate on "Security in Central America as a Regional and Global Challenge: How to Promote and Implement the Central American Security Strategy"

Statement by HE Mr Gary Quinlan, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Australia to the United Nations

Thank you to the President of the General Assembly, the Government of Italy and the Ministers of Central America for keeping the serious challenges that Central America faces high on our radar. This is a global problem and it needs global solidarity now.

Traditionally, Australia's experience and assistance in combating transnational organised crime and drug trafficking has been concentrated mainly in the Asia Pacific. In recent years we have been active in building partnerships and capacity in this area in Africa, and we have recently extended this assistance and cooperation to Central American countries.

Australia has committed around 23 million to the Central American Integration System (SICA) for activities in violence reduction, civilian security, poverty alleviation, scholarships, disaster risk reduction and food security. We said last December at the SICA regional security meeting that we were committed to working with SICA on its 22 areas of priority – and we remain very committed to support Central America through this framework.

Specifically, the Australian Federal Police is preparing to provide training workshops for police forces in the region in narcotics control and we are working on extending that to anti-money laundering. We are also looking at bringing senior police officers from Central American countries to Australia for senior leadership training.

Minister Cordero of Costa Rica made clear that lasting solutions require a determined focus on prevention. We are also active on the prevention side. Australia is working with Germany on preventing youth violence through the PREVENIR project.
However, from the discussion today we recognise that much more needs to be done and we will look again at what more we can do to strengthen capabilities the region in line with your priorities.

Australia has developed in the Asia Pacific an extensive network of Transnational Crime Coordination Centres (TCCC). These Centres assist law enforcement agencies to develop their own transnational crime coordination capacity by approaching transnational crime as an integrated phenomenon. We are extending this capability to Africa and we would be happy to look at extending this also to Central America if there is interest in the region.

We have heard this morning from the UNODC about efforts underway to develop a regional Transnational Organised Crime Threat Assessment for Central America. Australia is supporting a similar Threat Assessment by the UNODC Regional Centre in Bangkok which will generate a strategic response to transnational organised crime in East Asia and the Pacific both in terms of policy and operations. This is due for completion in August and if there is interest we would be happy to share our region's experiences in taking forward its recommendations.

In relation to capacity building but more broadly law enforcement cooperation, a big focus of Australia's current training in Africa is on mutual legal assistance. We would be interested to know whether the law enforcement agencies of Central America are getting sufficient training and cooperation to carry out investigations and prosecutions. We would welcome advice on what, if any, are the hurdles and how we might overcome these to help bring criminals to justice.

Of course, on drugs, all countries have a responsibility to do a lot more to tackle consumer demand among our own populations. This is a job we all need to do more about.

Thank you.

Last Updated: 4 June 2015
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