Small Arms Proliferation and Misuse: Towards a Caribbean plan of action

Tasneem Jamal Americas, Conventional Weapons

Working Paper 08-1

In a 2007 report, the UN noted that murder rates in the Caribbean had reached 30 per 100,000 each year – higher than any other region of the world. Caribbean societies have the distinction of receiving illegal small arms at a rate that has consistently increased over the last decade, despite numerous costly and varied interventions by governments. The uniqueness of the Caribbean situation is linked to the twinning of narcotics and illegal guns: illegal drugs are traded for illegal weapons.

The lives of Caribbean men and women are influenced by the gender disparities and structural inequalities that persist in many facets of Caribbean life. As a result of shifting trading arrangements, there remains the persistent challenge of positioning the economies of the region to address the growing levels of poverty. Over the years, the larger economic shifts have seen the growth of the commoditization of violence, which speaks to the fact that an increasing number of citizens have had to rely on criminal violence of various kinds to survive.

As we have seen in other affected regions, regional instruments have proven beneficial to the implementation of national and international commitments on small arms. The impact of illicit firearms use in the Caribbean argues for a similar regional response.

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