Colombia hosted the third U.S.-Colombia Action Plan (USCAP) Conference for Regional Security in Medellín, July 29-August 2, 2019. During the event, representatives from Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Paraguay, and the United States discussed ways to address security challenges and prevent international crime in Latin America. Ecuador and Paraguay are USCAP’s two most recent member countries.
According to U.S. Marine Corps Major General David G. Bellon, director of SOUTHCOM’s Strategy, Policies, and Plans Directorate, the most important is to “develop a mechanism of regional decision-making that uses our strengths as partner nations and produces results against regional threats.”
During the five-day event, participants focused on topics related to teamwork among member countries. Participants worked in groups to develop criteria the military and police forces must take into account when facing common challenges such as cybercrime, narcotrafficking, or arms and human trafficking.
USCAP member countries took the opportunity to create a committee with members from each participating country to follow up on cyberdefense and cybercrime prevention results. They also included the human rights component in all actions to be implemented.
This will allow USCAP member countries to incorporate shared international standards to facilitate planning and execution of joint and combined operations. In the case of Colombia, this is already in place: The Joint Cyber Command and the Police Cyber Center advise the governments of Ecuador, Panama, and Peru.
According to Colombian Army Major General María Paulina Leguizamón, vice chairman of the Legal Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces’ General Command, these human rights actions will have a huge impact. “The ideal [scenario] is for militaries worldwide, in this case those of the Western Hemisphere, to have conceptual unity based on standards for use of force by military or police forces, which should guarantee the legitimacy of our actions under the law.”