Concern regarding the proliferation of private security companies in Latin America and the Caribbean has led to discussions on collaborative research between The University of the West Indies (UWI), through its Institute of International Relations (IIR), and a Canadian NGO, Project Ploughshares. This collaboration will deepen previous research and contribute to strengthening state policy on, and regulations of the industry.
Both organizations met at The University Inn and Conference Centre in Trinidad, at a two-day workshop on 10 and 11 September, to develop the scope, methodology and outcomes of undertaking this research. Leading the workshop were The UWI’s IIR Director, Professor Andy Knight, and John Siebert, Executive Director of Project Ploughshares. Their research concept paper follows on a 2013 research publication that presented case studies of Private Security Companies in Jamaica, St Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago, based on field research in each of the three states. The new research will involve field research and comparative case studies of additional Caricom and Latin American states, and will engage other researchers in the Caribbean as well as Central and South America.
According to Prof. Knight, this research on private security actors in our region is significant and important. This collaborative project is timely, he continued, because “the exponential growth of firms in this sector is an indication of governments’ failure to provide adequate security for their citizens, their business assets, their resources and their critical infrastructure. What our research, in collaboration Project Ploughshares, demonstrates is that the Westphalian notion of state security needs to be adjusted to take into consideration the reality of the growing private sector encroachment into a space of governance that was normally the purview of governments.”
John Siebert noted that during the two days of discussion, the team identified where research is needed to provide empirical data on the private security industry that can lead to practical policy recommendations for industry and governments to strengthen citizen security. “We are excited about this opportunity to continue our partnership with the Institute of International Relations at UWI, on ways to improve the security architecture in the Caribbean and Latin America,” he said.
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