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New York, 16 May 2012



Increasing violence fuelled by organized crime and drug trafficking is, with different country-specific degrees a major threat to the political stability and security of the Central American region, in a context of longstanding institutional weakness. UNODC’s 2011 Global Study on Homicide found that killings in Central America were nearing a “crisis point,” at a rate of more than 41 per 100 thousand citizens in Guatemala, 66 per 100 thousand in El Salvador, and 82 per 100 thousand in Honduras.

Transnational organized crime (TOC) and drug trafficking are a challenge to the region and a global threat. They jeopardize security, obstruct the functioning of public institutions, undermine respect for human rights, and threaten legitimate economic activities. In the short term, high crime and violence rates directly impact human welfare. In the long term, they hinder economic growth and social development. From this perspective, crime and violence are a development issue. No State can hope to defeat this threat on its own. A stronger regional and global response is needed. This has been recognized by all Central American countries and is the moving force of their regional strategy on security.

In recent years, the UN Member States have voiced their concern over the negative impact of TOC on development, peace and security, and human rights. The UN was also encouraged to be more proactive in helping the region fight organized crime and impunity during the Central American Summit held in Guatemala City in March 2011, with the participation of the UN Secretary-General.

Regional Security Strategy for Central America, adopted at a meeting of Heads of State of Central America on 22 June 2011, marked the beginning of a new stage in the region’s efforts to “consolidate Central America as a region that is safe, in peace, with freedom, democracy and development”. The Strategy with its comprehensive aproach received broad endorsement from the international community, especially the Group of Friends of the Conference, consisting of the main donors and key implementation partners, including UNODC, UNDP, the World Bank and other international organizations.

The Central American Integration System (SICA), which plays a leading role in the strategy, has asked the UN to lend its active support to implementation efforts. Such an initiative would be consistent with the goals of the United Nations Task Force on Transnational Organized Crime and Drug Trafficking, established by the Secretary-General in 2011 and led by DPA and UNODC.

This timely thematic debate, organized in cooperation with the Government of Italy, SICA, and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), will discuss the challenges that transnational organized crime and drug trafficking pose to the security and stability of Central America in a context of growing violence, financial and fiscal constraints, and institutional weaknesses.



The overall objective of the thematic debate is to highlight the Central American Government’s individual and collective fight against transnational organized crime, its focus in the framework of the United Nations’ policies and actions, as well as the importance of cooperation with and support of the donor community.

Experience and best practices in countering organized crime in the context of balanced strategies, such as those pursued in Italy, can be useful in forging long-lasting solutions based on the Rule of Law, respect for human rights, and advanced legal and judicial tools aimed at identifying the complex structure of criminal networks and curtailing their financial power. The debate will also be a useful step in preparing the General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Rule of Law that will be held during the 66th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

The outcome of the thematic debate will be a President’s Summary.





High-level thematic debate will take place on Wednesday, 16 May 2012 at the Economic and Social Council Chamber, UN Headquarters, New York. The meeting will consist of opening and closing sessions and one interactive panel discussion.

Following presentations by the panellists, the floor will be open to delegates and other participants to pose questions and to share their experience and perspectives. Delegations are encouraged to engage in an open and interactive discussion. There will be no established list of speakers, and delegations are kindly asked to limit their interventions to a maximum of 3 minutes.




10am – 10:30am

Opening Remarks:

H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the General Assembly
H.E. Mr. Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary-General
H.E. Ms. Paola Severino, Minister of Justice of Italy
H.E. Mr. Arturo Corrales Alvarez, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Honduras, President pro tempore of the Central American Integration System (SICA)
H.E. Mr. Yury Fedotov, Under-Secretary-General, Executive Director of UNODC (video-message)

10:30am – 11:30am

Ministerial Segment:

H.E. Mr. Mario Zamora Cordero, Minister of Public Security, Costa Rica
H.E. Mr. Douglas Mauricio Moreno Recinos, Vice Minister of Justice and Public Security, El Salvador
H.E. Mr. Carlos Raúl Morales Moscoso, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Guatemala
H.E. Mr. Alejandro Garuz Recuero, Vice Minister of Security, Panama
H.E. Mr. Brígido Ruiz, Vice Minister of Interior and Police, Dominican Republic
Col. George Lovell, Vice Minister of National Security, Belize

11:30am – 12:50am

Interactive Panel Discussion:
Security in Central America as a regional and global challenge:
How to promote and implement the Central American Security Strategy

Moderated by Mr. Sebastian Rotella, Correspondent and Investigative Reporter, ProPublica, 2006 Pulitzer Award Finalist for international reporting

Ms. Abigail Benzadón Cohen, Secretary-General, Council of Transparency against Corruption, Panama
Ms. Aminta Granera, Chief, National Police, Nicaragua
Mr. Pietro Grasso, Anti-Mafia National Prosecutor, Italy
Mr. Juan Daniel Aleman Gurdian, Secretary-General, SICA
Mr. Oscar Fernandez-Taranco, United Nations Assistant Secretary General for Political Affairs
Mr. John Feeley, Acting Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Security Coordinator for Western Hemisphere Affairs, U.S. Department of State

12:50pm – 1pm

Closing Remarks:

H.E. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, President of the General Assembly


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