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Caribbean to benefit from UN peace centre

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August 18 Bridgetown Barbados: Regional countries will now have access to training courses for law enforcement officials, politicians, and non-governmental organisations as a result of the expanded mandate of the United Nations peace centre for Latin American and the Caribbean.

In the past, the organisation functioned as a disarmament information centre and managed weapons stockpiling and des-truction. However, UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, recently noted, The role of the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean has undergone substantial modification since its creation in 1987.

The Centre has evolved form serving as a facilitator for the implementation of regional initiatives to being a service provider for States in the region, due in part to the increased variety and quantity of requests from States in the region for assistance in the implementation of measures for peace, disarmament and development, Annan said in a report to the General Assembly for its deliberations on security and disarmament.

The activities of the centre have an aim of identifying regional security needs and will explore new areas of co-operation in the region by synergising its work with various organisations, addressing the growing link between peace and disarmament issues and human and sustainable development.

One of its major programmes, aimed at improving regional security, is advancing the UN Pro-gramme of Action to Prevent, Combat and Eradicate the Illicit Trade in Small Arms and Light Weapons and strengthening firearms legislation. Recently, the Centre has conducted the destruction of 52 000 firearms in Brazil, Costa Rica and Paraguay, as well as the destruction of over 96 tons of ammunition and explosives in Paraguay.

To achieve its mandate, several seminars are scheduled, including Regional disarmament: Practical contributions to the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, to be held in Barbados for CARICOM states. In addition, a workshop series to promote peace and disarmament, will be held in St. Johns, Antigua, as well as a Latin American and Caribbean public security workshop series in Port of Spain, Trinidad. Moreover, a public information strategy will be part of the method of promoting peace, disarmament and development in the region.

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