Georgetown, Guyana – (December 22, 2017) President David Granger has outlined the importance of defence cooperation in not only augmenting the military capability of small states but in strengthening their capacity to deal with natural disasters and other humanitarian crises and conducting peace-keeping exercises. Moreover, the Guyanese Head of State believes that strong defence cooperation can serve to deter aggression, promote respect for international law, improve the defense capabilities of smaller states, strengthen regional integration and confront non-state threats.

Speaking at a forum on Continental Security Cooperation in South America, which focused specifically on the changes and challenges in the 21st century at the Paulo Nogueira Batista Auditorium at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Brazil during his State visit yesterday, the President said that the devastation that the world has seen during the recent hurricane season in the Region has exposed the need for the creation of a platform for small States to be able to respond to such crises. He explained that there have been instances where there have been complete breakdowns in law and order after a natural disaster. “I just ask that consideration be given not only to situations where there is armed conflicts but to situations of natural catastrophes in which disorder could follow,” he said.

President Granger said that small states have limited resources and some of the same serious problems faced by larger states and must rely on multilateral cooperation. “The security of South American states, particularly small states with limited military capability, is best guaranteed through a multilateral system which, as a form of functional cooperation, can strengthen peace-promotion norms by encouraging greater respect for principles, which promote peace and deter aggression, such as the peaceful settlement of disputes, the prohibition on the use of force or the threat of the use of force and respect for international treaties and agreements,” President Granger said.

He spoke of the South American Defense Council, which has not yet reached the stage of providing collective security. This body was established in Brazil with the aim of ensuring peace and security in the continent. “The South American Defense Council is an idea whose time has come. The Council has not yet graduated towards providing collective security. The Council, as a defense community, however, can use diplomatic suasion and peace-keeping initiatives as a means of deterring interstate conflict, including conflicts between states of asymmetrical capabilities,” he told the diplomats, Ambassadors and foreign service officers gathered.

Importantly too, he said that defence cooperation can lay the foundation for the creation of continent-wide collective security mechanism that would deter internal interstate conflict. In this regard, he noted that Brazil has already played a significant role in conceiving the Council and it must not move to make it operational.

The Continent looks forward, with Brazil’s partnership, to the invigoration of the South American Defense Council as a vehicle for peace and security in South America…South America must be preserved as a Zone of Peace. The South American Defense Council, by promoting defense cooperation, can reduce threats, build trust and graduate towards the eventual goal of continental collective security,” President Granger said.

After his presentation, the President fielded questions from the audience. When asked about the measures Guyana and Brazil can take to tackle transnational, organised crime, he said that given the fact that the Guyana-Brazil is over 1300 kilometres, it is extremely difficult for security forces in Guyana to police the entire area. This makes it easy for criminals to conduct nefarious activities such as trafficking in arms, narco-trafficking, people smuggling and even illegal mining. In this regard, he called on the Brazilian authorities to deepen cooperation in the areas of joint surveillance and sharing of intelligence.

“There has to be sharing of information, there has to be cooperation among the security force. They may not threaten the State but they may create local disorder. They can take over zones and use those zones for platforms for narco-trafficking. They can create airstrips for planes to land and this has happened in my country…Transnational crimes could become big if it is not stopped when it is small and it is the duty of the States and the intelligence agencies and security forces to prevent them for degenerating,” President Granger said.

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Mr. Carl Greenidge, Minister of Public Infrastructure, Mr. David Patterson and Minister of Natural Resources, Mr. Raphael Trotman, Director General in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ambassador Audrey Waddell were also present at the forum.

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