Bolivia subscribed to the United Nations Firearms Protocol on May 13. About 26,000 weapons are in the hands of civilians around the country, Bolivian Minister of Government Carlos Romero revealed during the signing of a letter of understanding with Thierry Rostan, representative of the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in Bolivia, and Simonetta Grassi, head of the Global Firearms Programme (PAF).
The document expressed the Bolivian government’s intentions to combat the illegal manufacturing and trafficking of firearms and related parts, components, and ammunition, in compliance with the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
"Bolivia has one of the lowest average indexes in the region," said Romero during the signing. "These are weapons of different kinds that we’ve registered, ranging from those used for illegal hunting, leisure, and collection to those used for personal defense."
The letter of understanding will now go to the Bolivian Congress to be approved as part of the Bolivian legislation. This procedure has already been entrusted to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which will follow up with the rest of the legal regularization process.
Illicit arms trafficking is a serious threat for security, and aggravates armed conflict, Rostan told the press. "The link between firearms and crime is clearly evident due to high murder rates," said the UNODC representative.
Grassi also said that "it is not a coincidence that the international community has stopped seeing organized crime and illegal firearms possession as isolated crimes; even the United Nations Security Council encourages strategies for control over firearm possession and their diversion to narcotrafficking, terrorist, and other organized crime groups."
Bolivia started the Voluntary Weapons Registry on September 2, 2015, for a period of 180 days in accordance with Act 400 on Weapons, Ammunition, and Explosives Control, passed in 2013. Since 2012, PAF provides technical and legislative counseling, as well as training and research for arms trafficking and related crimes in Latin American countries.