Ambassador Kwan Encourages Continuing Collaboration During Perry Center Events in Belize
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14 Feb 2024

Ambassador Michelle Kwan

From January 30 to February 1, the Perry Center held an executive seminar and workshop on “Human Rights and Rule of Law in Combating Crime and Armed Violence” in Belmopan, Belize. During remarks to seminar participants, US Ambassador to Belize Michelle Kwan encouraged ongoing collaboration, saying “The work we began here this week must continue… because the problem sets we’ve discussed are too critical and too big to be tackled alone.”

The one-day executive seminar was hosted by Perry Center Director Paul J. Angelo and brought together high-level participants from eight government agencies including the Minister of Home Affairs, the Chief of Defense Staff, and the National Security Advisor. The purpose of the seminar was to share evidence and best practices for addressing crime and violence with respect for human rights and the rule of law within the Western Hemisphere.

The two-day workshop was attended by more than 40 representatives of the Belize Defense Force, Police Force, Coast Guard, Ministry of Youth, Ministry of Development, Office of the Attorney General, and the Human Rights Commission. The workshop included lectures on armed violence reduction frameworks, human rights and the use of force, illicit firearms, trafficking, and policies for supporting at-risk youth. Two table-top exercises were carried out in small groups to permit participants to place concepts learned into action. Additionally, a representative of US Southern Command’s Human Rights Office shared developments on the regional Human Rights Initiative. Belize is the first English-speaking country in the Western Hemisphere to join the Initiative, which focuses on strengthening human rights training, doctrine, and accountability mechanisms among military organizations in Latin America and the Caribbean.

Amb. Kwan (center) with the Perry Center team

In remarks to workshop participants, Dr. Angelo commended current efforts: “We know that citizen security strategies, especially those aimed at reducing homicides and violent crime, require a three-pronged approach: prevention, law enforcement, and territorial defense. I applaud the good work of government Belize – and especially our Perry Center alums at the helm – in putting together a strategy that appreciates the centrality of interagency coordination and whole-of-government design to overall success.”

The seminar and workshop, designed and conducted by Perry Center Professors William Godnick and Erin McFee, took place in the context of ongoing support to the Government of Belize to develop and implement a state-of-the-art national security strategy relevant to the country’s specific needs and challenges.