SEESAC Contributes to Shaping the Central American Roadmap to Prevent the Illicit Trafficking and Proliferation of Arms and Ammunition

The first in-person meeting dedicated to shaping the Central American Roadmap to Prevent the Illicit Proliferation and Trafficking of Firearms and Ammunition was successfully convened in Panama City from 25 to 27 October 2023. Ms Bojana Balon, the Head of SEESAC and the Deputy Minister of Interior of Albania, Mr Besfort Lamallari, who joined the meeting online, shared invaluable insights from experiences with the development and implementation of the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap.

The Central American Roadmap initiative, mandated by the Organization of American States (OAS) Member States through the OAS General Assembly Resolution, adopted on 6 October 2022, called for collaborative efforts between the OAS, the Central American Integration System (SICA), and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament, and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UNLIREC) to develop a comprehensive roadmap to address the pressing arms-related issues in Central America, including the highest homicide rate globally and Illicit trafficking and proliferation of weapons.

Distinguished speakers, including Mr Steven Griner, Director of the Department of Public Security of OAS, Ms Katja Boettcher, Political Affairs Officer of UNLIREC, Mr Rafael Donis y Donis from the Department of Democratic Security, General Secretariat of SICA, and Ambassador Izabela Matusz, Representative of the European Union in Panama, opened the meeting and set the tone for a collaborative effort in developing Central American Roadmap.

The Central American Roadmap initiative aligns with global efforts and takes inspiration from successful experiences from other sub-regions, such as the Western Balkans and the Caribbean. A noteworthy aspect of the meeting was the presentation by Ms Bojana Balon, Head of SEESAC, who shared lessons learned from implementing the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap.

Ms. Balon emphasized the main aspects of the Western Balkans SALW Control Roadmap, highlighting its vision, goals, Key Performance Indicators, coordination and monitoring frameworks, and the significance of the Multi-Partner Trust Fund. The presentation outlined the challenges faced and success factors contributing to the effectiveness of the Western Balkans Roadmap. Among others, the success was attributed to factors such as strong ownership and commitment by authorities and comprehensive coordination and information sharing among institutions, donors, and implementing partners.

Deputy Minister of Interior, Mr. Befort Lamallari, underscored the role of the Small Arms and Light Weapons Commissions for the successful coordination and implementation of SALW control efforts, described the progress made in implementing the Western Balkans Roadmap, and shared the lessons learnt from the coordination, monitoring and implementation of the initiative.

A representative of UNLIREC presented the experience, model, and added value of the Caribbean Roadmap, which has also been modelled after the Western Balkans SALE Control Roadmap.

Participating countries, including Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, and the Dominican Republic, shared their unique perspectives and challenges in arms control.

The Theory of Change session enabled participants to explore the vision for Central America, expected impacts, and the necessary steps to achieve desired outcomes. Furthermore, the meeting facilitated dynamic discussions to identify potential objectives, actions, and priorities crucial for the successful implementation of the Central American Roadmap. As the meeting progressed, the focus shifted on the role and importance of the National Contact Points, as well as on identifying national institutions involved in the Roadmap process.

Overall, the meeting in Panama provided a platform for fruitful dialogue, enabling participants to learn from successful sub-regional models, discuss challenges, and set the stage for developing a comprehensive Central American Roadmap to enhance citizen security in the region.