Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Senator Maxine McClean, has stressed to the United Nations (UN) Security Council the grave threat posed to Barbados and the rest of the Caribbean by the illicit trade in small arms and light weapons.

Speaking during the Open Debate on Peace and Security Challenges Facing Small Island Developing States (SIDS) on July 30 at the UN headquarters in New York, Senator McClean stated that the Government of Barbados continued to oppose the proliferation of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

She noted however: ???On a day-to-day basis, we must focus on the trade in small arms and light weapons which facilitates traffic in illicit drugs and other organised crime, and which undermines our economy and can destabilise society.???

The Foreign Affairs Minister referred to the 2011 CARICOM Declaration on Small Arms and Light Weapons, in which Heads of Government reiterated the threat and committed to implementing all necessary actions at the national and regional level to combat the illicit trade.

In 2013, she said, the Heads adopted the CARICOM Crime and Security Strategy, which listed a number of ???immediate, significant threats??? such as transnational organised crime, gang crime, cyber-crime, financial crime and corruption.

Senator McClean said the situation was made worse by the many vulnerabilities which commonly characterised SIDS, such as narrow resource bases, small domestic markets, susceptibility to external shocks and environmental vulnerability.

???These threats are made more significant because of the geography of SIDS. Often of small land mass, their air and maritime borders are multiple times larger. The cost to protect national borders is thus rendered prohibitive and difficult,??? she explained.

Taken together, the Foreign Minister told her audience, these threats to peace and security required the diversion of already limited resources at a significant cost to national development. ???They have a grave impact on the socio-economic development of Barbados and other CARICOM states, extracting a high toll in human lives and productivity, lowering quality of life, impeding social development and undermining economic growth,??? she stressed.

Senator McClean welcomed the decision of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) to re-establish a presence in the Caribbean, and said she expected, as a global leader in crime prevention, that its contribution would assist ???in the burdensome task we must prosecute. We look forward to the early commencement of its work in Barbados???.

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