Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Caribbean: Drug trade, violent crime threatening Caribbean nations

Despite the Caribbean region’s natural assets, it is beset by ills such as drug trafficking and violent crime, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.

He said he was struck by the beauty of the islands and the warmth of the people when visiting the Caribbean two years ago, but “these natural assets stand in stark contrast to some of the region’s ills,” he noted in an address to the opening of the fifth general meeting of the United Nations and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) and its associated institutions in New York.

“You know all too well that geopolitical realities leave the region vulnerable to destructive forces,” Mr. Ban said.

The Caribbean is the midway point between illicit drug producers in the South and consumers in the North, he said, with profits from the drug trade often dwarfing the legal economies of CARICOM countries.

“With that trade comes violent crime,” the Secretary-General pointed out. The region is said to have the highest per capita murder rates in the world and drug trafficking also undermines the rule of law and democratic governance.

“We must address this scourge while paying special attention to those who are vulnerable to getting caught in the web of drug crimes,” he said, adding that collaboration between CARICOM and the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) will be crucial.

Mr. Ban’s address today also touched on the impact of global warming on Caribbean nations which threatens “not only their economic viability but even, in some cases, their very existence.”

Experts predict that hurricanes will become both more frequent and severe, threatening the tourism industry, which comprises up to half the gross domestic product of many small island developing States.

“The link between achieving economic prosperity and preserving ecosystems and natural resources is obvious to all Caribbean countries,” the Secretary-General said, urging CARICOM nations to continue pushing for action on sustainable development.

Source: UN News Centre
Published by Mike Hitchen, Mike Hitchen Consulting
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