High levels of crime and insecurity continue to pose a challenge to social and economic development in Latin America and the Caribbean, despite steady improvements in governance over the past two decades, the head of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has warned.
UNDP Administrator Helen Clark cautioned that chronic insecurity and entrenched inequality could undermine hard-won gains in governance as well as development in the region.
“Trans-national criminal organizations pose a huge threat to state security institutions whose mandate is limited to the national context,” she said while visiting Mexico to mark the 50th anniversary of the organisation’s presence in the country.
“Societies and states are sometimes tempted to use illegal means to fight crime, and the public debate on insecurity can become unduly polarized.”
Clark suggested that more coordination is needed across borders in matters of intelligence, security, and policing to combat these gangs.
The UNDP official noted, though, that in the last two decades, the region’s quest for democratic governance has made great progress, with the strengthening of electoral democracy and a steady transition towards civilian and more transparent forms of governance.
Given the scope of the challenge facing the region, the next UNDP Human Development Report for Latin American and the Caribbean will focus on people’s security.
It will be coordinated by Mexican scholar Rafael Fernández de Castro, a former foreign policy adviser to Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón.