Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of National Security, Major Richard Reese, has affirmed the Government’s support for the United Nations Security Council resolution, which requires all UN member states to criminalise the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and all related materials.
The Resolution (UNSCR 1540), also requires UN member states to enact and enforce strict export controls, and to secure sensitive materials within their borders.
Addressing the opening ceremony for the Domestic Export Controls and Maritime Security Workshop in support of the implementation of UNSCR 1540, today (June 16) at the Hilton Kingston Hotel, Major Reese said that the Government is in strong opposition to terrorism and endorses and supports any legitimate mechanism that will stem the problem.
“Jamaica unequivocally supports the provision which imposes binding obligation on states to establish domestic controls to prevent the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons, and their means of delivery, by establishing appropriate controls over such materials,” he continued.
The Permanent Secretary pointed out that the Government is aware that threats to international security, have serious implications at the local level, noting the commitment to maintain a firm stance against terrorism and other forms of organised criminality.
“Our Governments, past and present, have continuously signalled our aversion to the monster of terrorism within and beyond our shores by the enactment of anti-terrorism laws in Jamaica. It is for this reason that we have moved to secure our borders,” he said.
In his remarks, Chief of Defence Staff of the Jamaica Defence Force, Major General Stuart Saunders, said that while advances in technology, have made communication easier, and has reduced travel time between places, it has allowed for the emergence of transnational threats, such as drug trafficking, man-induced disasters, and weapons smuggling.
He said that for small, dependent nations such as those in the Caribbean, “these challenges are probably even more pronounced and far-reaching. Traditional, established modes of transportation and communication are being used for the proliferation and rapid movement of illicit goods, but we must also contend with newer, more sophisticated means of moving these items.”
Major General Saunders noted that even though the Caribbean has not had to deal with WMD, “we cannot remain ignorant or unperturbed by the possibilities.” He stressed that there is little to stop people with ill-will from engaging in activities in the Caribbean which could cause irreparable damage.
Permanent Secretary in the National Security Ministry, Major Richard Reese (second left), speaks with Senior Legal Officer in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, David Fraser (left), at the opening of the Domestic Export Controls and Maritime Security workshop, held at the Hilton Kingston Hotel, on June 16. Others (from right) are: Chief of Defence Staff, Jamaica Defence Force, Major General Stuart Saunders; and High Commissioner of Canada to Jamaica, Denis Kingsley.
“We see how easy it is for thousands of containers to move from one destination to another without most of them being checked. We have seen too, the surge of numerous speed boats criss-crossing the Caribbean delivering psychotropic substances. What is to stop these people from using these methods to proliferate WMDs?” he asked.
The Chief of Defence Staff pointed out that the workshop was necessary to forge alliances with regional participants and with the global community, as global co-operation and assistance is one of the best deterrents to the proliferation of WMD. “With a united concerted approach, it will make it that much more difficult for would-be perpetrators to carry out their deeds,” he emphasised.
He added that Jamaica has taken its first steps to deal with the vulnerability of the country’s ports, with enhanced detection capacity. “We are in the process of exerting our influence in our maritime space, and in time, we expect to see more concrete results,” he informed.
Meanwhile, High Commissioner of Canada to Jamaica, Denis Kingsley, said Canada views UNSCR 1540 as an important international mechanism. He noted however, that it is vital to move assistance from the general awareness-building level, to the specific implementation of this resolution.
UNSCR 1540, when fully implemented, can help ensure that no state or non-state actor is a source or beneficiary of WMD proliferation. Each state’s actions will significantly strengthen the international standards relating to the export of sensitive items and support for proliferators (including financing) and ensure that non-state actors, including terrorist and black-market networks, do not gain access to chemical, nuclear or biological weapons, their means of delivery, or related materials.
Senior Legal Officer for the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) Secretariat, David Fraser, said that CARICOM, last year, put forward a proposal to the UNSCR 1540 Committee for a programme of work to be undertaken to enhance compliance with the resolution in the Caribbean.
He informed that this proposal has been accepted by the 1540 Committee, which comprised three components. This includes the Domestic Export Controls and Maritime Security workshop, to raise awareness, build capacity and pool expertise to devise strategies to address the various aspects of the 1540 mandate.
It will also engage a resident co-ordinator, who will lead the effort to get relevant stakeholders in each country working together; and a legal expert to audit states’ 1540 compliance and to draft a model legislative reference framework to assist states to meet their legislative obligations; and workshops.
The two-day workshop, which ends tomorrow (June 17), is being hosted by the Organisation of American States (OAS), in collaboration with CARICOM. It is sponsored by the Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, and the United States Department of Energy.