SOME 1.6 million illegal guns are circulating in the Caricom region, revealed Peter A Barcroft, senior director of the International Peace and Security Programme, run by Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGA) in New York City.

His disclosure came at a recent meeting of regional MPs in Port of Spain to address the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

MPs from TT, Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St Lucia, St Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname discussed how female MPs can engage more in tackling the illegal gun trade, which is a near epidemic in several Caricom countries, including TT.

“Nearly 60 per cent of all homicides in the Caricom region are gun-related, and over 1.6 million illegal guns are in circulation, in spite of the fact that there is no local manufacture base in the region,” Barcroft said.

The workshop, run by PGA and the UN Trust Facility on Cooperation in Arms Regulation, discussed how female decision-makers, including MPs, are increasingly being urged by the international community to get involved. This call is reflected in UN Security Council Resolution 1325, plus outcome documents from the Review Conference on the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons in June 2018.

Caricom adopted a declaration in 2011 highlighting illicit arms and the need for drastic action.

“Since that time, the situation has deteriorated considerably in several Caricom member states, including TT.”

While the reckless export of arms by foreign countries is a major cause of the problem, participants nonetheless identified measures they can take, both as advocates and lawmakers, to tackle the serious security, health and socio-economic and development challenges posed by this trade.

EU Delegation head ambassador Aad Biesebroek and UN resident co-ordinator in TT Marina Walter opened the workshop and highlighted the resources their organisations were committing to this challenge.

Barcroft said female legislators have been kept on the sidelines in addressing the pressing national security issues in their countries.

“But it is female legislators who often have a greater understanding and appreciation of the wider negative impact of the illegal guns trade, including in the public health and education sectors, and also in the context of negatively impacting a number of sustainable development goals, beyond the more immediately obvious security consequences.

“The parliamentarians in this workshop from across the region are looking to change this status quo. They have adopted a plan of action and are returning back home with a very clear sense of the many vital steps they can take to tackle head-on the illegal arms trade, both as advocates and lawmakers." ncent and the Grenadines and Suriname discussed how female MPs can engage more in tackling the illegal gun trade which is a near epidemic in several Caricom countries, including TT.

“Nearly 60 per cent of all homicides in the Caricom region are gun-related and over 1.6 million illegal guns are in circulation, in spite of the fact that there is no local manufacture base in the region,” Barcroft said.

The workshop, run by PGA and the UN Trust Facility on Cooperation in Arms Regulation, discussed how female decision-makers including MPs are increasingly being urged by the international community to get involved. This call is reflected in UN Security Council Resolution 1325 plus outcome documents from the Review Conference on the UN Programme of Action on Small Arms and Light Weapons in June 2018.

Caricom itself adopted a declaration in 2011 highlighting illicit arms and the need for drastic action.

“Since that time, the situation has deteriorated considerably in several Caricom Member States, including Trinidad and Tobago.”

While the reckless export of arms by foreign countries is a major cause of the problem, participants nonetheless identified measures they can take, both as advocates and lawmakers, to tackle the serious security, health and socio-economic and development challenges posed by this trade.

EU Delegation head Ambassador Aad Biesebroek and UN Resident Coordinator in Trinidad and Tobago, Marina Walter opened the workshop and highlighted the resources their organizations were committing to this challenge.

Barcroft said female legislators have been kept at the sidelines in addressing the pressing national security issues in their countries.

“But it is female legislators who often have a greater understanding and appreciation of the wider negative impact of the illegal guns trade, including in the public health and education sectors, and also in the context of negatively impacting a number of sustainable development goals, beyond the more immediately obvious security consequences.

“The parliamentarians in this Workshop from across the region are looking to change this status quo. They have adopted a Plan of Action and are returning back home with a very clear sense of the many vital steps they can take to tackle head-on the illegal arms trade, both as advocates and lawmakers."

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