Regional parliamentarians in gun talks

PROMINENT parliamentarians from Barbados, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname, together with MPs from TT, convened at the Hyatt Regency Trinidad, last week, to identify how female parliamentarians can ramp up their engagement in tackling the illegal gun trade in the region.

A statement from the Parliamentarians for Global Action (PGAsaid nearly 60 per cent of all homicides in the region were gun-related and over 1.6 million illegal guns were in circulation, despite the fact there is no local manufacture base in the Caribbean.

The workshop was organised by PGA and was funded by the United Nations Trust Facility on Cooperation in Arms Regulation (UNSCAR).

It was tasked with highlighting how female decision-makers, including parliamentarians were increasingly being looked to by the international community, to get involved, especially since the situation has deteriorated considerably in several CARICOM member States,

including TT.

At the workshop, participants recognised that reckless, unchecked arms exports by certain countries outside the region were a major cause of the problem. They also identified a number of practical steps they can take, both as advocates and lawmakers, to tackle the significant security, public health and socio-economic and development challenges that arise directly from this trade.

Head of the EU Delegation, Ambassador Aad Biesebroek and UN Resident Coordinator in TT Marina Walter were at the workshop and spoke of the the substantial resources their respective organisations were collectively committing to address this region-wide challenge.

PGA International Peace and Security Program Senior Director, Peter Barcroft said:

“For too long, and for a number of different reasons, female legislators have been confined to the sidelines in addressing some of the most pressing national security issues confronting their national authorities.

“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.”

He added that the parliamentarians at the workshop had adopted a plan of action and had 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.”