The Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) will work together to fight transnational crime, said organization Secretary Maria Emma Mejia, Radio W reported Thursday.
“The problem of our region is that we have become producing countries, consumers and transporters (…) for the first time these ministers will seek a common policy to address this problem,” said Mejia.
Meji’a statement came after a meeting in the Colombian coastal city of Cartagena with the Ministers of Defense, the Interior, Justice and Foreign Affairs of the 12 member countries of the UNASUR.
According to Meji, the member countries concluded they needed to “create a mechanism to discuss the problems of transnational crime.”
This announcement came only a few weeks after the Sixth Summit of the Americas, also held in Cartagena last month, where leaders called for cooperation among all American states to fight organized crime.
Although drug trafficking is the most high profile crime in the region, UNASUR also intends to address the crimes of illegal arms and arms trafficking, human trafficking, transnational violence and money laundering.
The meeting of UNASUR will close Friday morning, at which time member states are expected to release a full report on organized crime in the region.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, the illicit market is responsible for approximately 3.6% of the world’s annual gross domestic product, generating $2.1 trillion in revenues each year.
The meeting also addressed issues of military expenditures. Meji said the group would release a report on May 10 to determine “if there is an arms race or not.”
Concerns over a South American arms race began in early 2010 after the United States increased military aid to Colombia under Plan Colombia, which also put American troops on Colombian military bases, much to the discomfort of its neighbors.
South American nations retaliated by purchasing large amounts of arms from foreign nations such as Russia and France.