Latin America & the Caribbean region
The issue of urban crime and insecurity is crucial in the Latin American region. Since 2003, the Safer Cities Programme has been making contacts and giving assistance to selected municipalities in the region, notably to Santo Andre (Metropolitan area of Sao Paolo) and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. At the same time the Programme has been supporting activities of the “Comuna Segura” Programme in Chile by being part of a team evaluating the implementation of the programme nationally and also providing guidance to the development of a Chilean Safer Cities manual.
In addition, since the second half of 2003, the UNHABITAT Regional office in Latin America and the Caribbean (ROLAC), jointly with Safer Cities, has been involved in the issue of Urban Security at the request of municipalities and Municipal Associations in, for example, Brazil, El Salvador and Colombia. ROLAC also participated in the last Regional Coalition Meeting which took place in Washington DC in 2003.
In December 2003, Safer Cities and the Urban Management Programme based in Latin America, in collaboration with the Municipality of Guarulhos organized an international seminar on ‘Innovative Municipal practices for Safer Cities’. The objective of the seminar was to enhance dialogue between local authorities working on safety in the region, exchange good practices and pave the way for the development of a regional strategy and action plan through exchange, city-to-city mechanisms and concrete cooperation projects. Thereafter, a strategy for the region has been developed by UN-HABITAT (Safer Cities and ROLAC).
One of the main developments in the region is the creation of a pilot Reference Centre for Urban Security in Brazil, a regional facility promoted by UN-HABITAT and the World Bank in partnership with municipal associations and local governments. The National Front of Mayors (FNP) has included public security issues in their national working agenda as a priority, and forming a Municipal Security working group. The World Bank has begun activities in the region, supporting capacity building initiatives and delivering methodological manuals to municipalities.
The Reference Centre accelerates and optimises the development of the security agenda, and consolidates the existing framework of knowledge and experiences. It acts as a ‘clearing house’ of information, circulating information and expertise, and systematically integrating the different actors necessary to strengthen the agenda at the national level.
The Reference Centre is designed to serve as a catalyst that integrates and mobilises the activities of different public and civil society institutions (municipalities, NGOs, academic institutions, international organisations). It organizes, articulates and co-ordinates the organization of experiences, the dissemination of information, offering technical support to municipalities, and facilitating the collaboration between cities and professionals dedicated to urban safety programmes.
In October 2004, the Safer Cities Programme organized a Regional Conference on Urban Youth at Risk in Latin America and the Caribbean in Monterrey, Mexico. This conference resulted in the formulation of a regional strategy and a regional networking project that will seek to advance the capacity of cities in addressing the situation of urban youth violence and crime in the context of improved local governance approaches.
At the request of the municipality of Bogotá, the Safer Cities Programme supported the Office of Women and Gender to take the lead in the organization of the second international Conference on Women’s Safety. The aim of the conference was to expand the understanding and communicate the interrelationship between violence in the public space and in domestic settings. The “Second International Conference on Safer Cities for Women and Girls
” drew upon the expertisefrom local, regional, and international networks, and built upon the First International Conference, held in Montreal, Canada in 2002. The partner organizations were represented by civil society, academia, gender experts, urban planners, NGOs, police force, governmental representatives from the national and municipal levels, and organizers of international women’s networks, which are actively supported by UN-HABITAT, UNDP, and UNIFEM.