Cooperative Hemispheric Security Architecture for the 21st Century. (Legislation and Policy)

Article excerpt

[The following are excerpts of remarks presented to the conference at the Inter-American Development Bank, Washington, D.C., September 20, 2002.]

The dangers of the Cold War have faded. And, new and prominent threats in the hemisphere have emerged, requiring coordinated, cooperative, and multilateral responses. Recognizing that the international and regional system has changed substantially in the past decade, it is important to redefine the collective goals of our nations in the hemisphere.

The Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance ("Rio Treaty") sets a standard whereby nations would respond in their common defense, with, the ultimate goal of creating a more secure environment, Our experience since September 11th in mobilizing hemispheric support and responses to fight terrorism under the Organization of American States (OAS) Charter and "Rio Treaty" proves that the current hemispheric security structure can address the region's security needs quite well. It also demonstrated the flexibility of our security architecture to address the new and emerging threats we face.

Yet, a genuinely stable and secure environment cannot be created by solving our national defense problems alone. For example, we recognize that threats to our security can stem from conflicts within states as well as from conflicts between states. As new threats and security challenges have evolved and emerged, the states of the Americas have stepped up to meet them.

Since 1995, the OAS has built an impressive record of achievement. Over ninety resolutions on regional arms control, demining, nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction, confidence and security building measures (CSBMs) and other aspects of defense and security policy have been adopted by consensus. In addition, three conventions concerning illicit trafficking in firearms, transparency, and terrorism have also been adopted. By actions and deeds, not mere words, this body of work defines our hemispheric security, as we know it today.

The OAS has served as the catalyst for hemispheric cooperation and a broader "inter-American system of hemispheric security," which now includes the Pan American Health Organization, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture, the Inter-American Defense Board, and meetings such as the Defense Ministerial of the Americas and Conferences of the American Armed Forces. Because today's security concerns have broadened to encompass far more than just internal and external military conflicts, the region has taken specific steps to address these threats.

In the war against terrorism, the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) was established in October 1999 to coordinate member states activities against terrorism, including special training and facilitating exchanges of information. The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, have awakened hemispheric concerns and, more importantly, drove hemispheric actions to address terrorism in a comprehensive manner. In January, CICTE identified urgent actions aimed at strengthening inter-American cooperation to prevent, combat, and eliminate terrorism in the Hemisphere. Moreover, the OAS adopted at the General Assembly in Barbados an Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism that expands our legal obligations to work together to both prevent and respond to terrorism. Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism's activities, in conjunction with the invocation of the Rio Treaty, constitute a strong institutional base for the hemispheric fight against terrorism.

In the fight against illegal narcotics, OAS member states have developed a drug abuse control program (CICAD) launched in 1987 which has developed model legislation and fostered cooperation across the broad range of narcotics issues. In 1996, the OAS negotiated the Anti-Drug Strategy for the Hemisphere, providing the policy context for the multilateral evaluation mechanism. …