Sometimes, when we launch a new initiative, we are tempted to use grandiose language. However, today’s decision taken by security ministers from several Latin American countries to create the Latin American Interior Security Committee (CLASI) makes 2 March a watershed.
Before today, these were Latin American countries with security policies – most of them very significant and determined policies – to tackle the problems posed by organised crime. But they were national policies in the face of transnational crime that does not affect just one country, but a whole region and sometimes the entire world. And now, we have an unprecedented initiative through which Latin American countries are joining forces to coordinate their work, organise their security policies and define joint strategies. In short: they are getting organised in order to combat organised crime.
The CLASI: an initiative supported by EL PAcCTO
There are several reasons to celebrate the advent of CLASI. Firstly, because it is a clear sign that Latin American countries want to work together to address common threats, which is a huge leap forward. What is more, the creation of CLASI is accompanied by an analysis of criminal threats in the region, through the Instrument for Threat Documentation and Assessment in Latin America-IDEAL which allows these countries to set their work priorities based on an objective study of the main criminal threats. The CLASI is, therefore, a Latin American instrument that will benefit the citizens of the countries in Latin America. Furthermore, since it is inspired by an initiative in the European Union (the COSI), the CLASI will also be an essential space for high level dialogue between Latin America and the European Union on security issues. The ability to have region to region dialogues between peers also represents a considerable and unprecedented step forward.
Today is a very important day, however, it is just the beginning. From now on it will be up to the participating countries, particularly the first Presidency of the CLASI, to bring in other countries so that all the countries in the region quickly become a part of the committee. It is also a question of nurturing substantive work in the priority areas for CLASI member countries. In issues relating to drug smuggling, the smuggling of migrants and trafficking in human beings, arms smuggling and horizontally, in all economic and financial aspects, there is a need to define specific activities with several participating countries to fight transnational organised crime. This is the purpose behind CLASI: a strong push for policies by defining clear priorities and specific, operational activities among participating countries.
It will also be important to make use of the different tools existing to give content to the CLASI. It is also worth mentioning AMERIPOL, which aims to become the leading police cooperation institution in the region. However, this will require some significant strengthening and the definition of a strategic roadmap to drive the CLASI forward.
At EL PAcCTO, we will continue to support this initiative with everything it needs, because we are certain that this is the right road for Latin America and for closer cooperation between the countries in the region and the European Union member states. The joint declaration by EU ministers and the CLASI ministers is an initial demonstration of our capacity to work together. It opens up a promising new avenue for cooperation between both regions and positions Latin America as a strategic partner of the European Union.
For all these reasons, although we recognise that this is just the beginning and that there is a long road ahead of us, and without giving into the temptation to use grandiose language: This is indeed a historic day in the fight against organised crime and for Latin America!
Xavier Cousquer (@Xcousquer), co-director of EL PAcCTO