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Homeland Security

Washington File

27 June 2003

U.S. Urges Intensified Hemispheric Security Cooperation

(Offers guideposts for conference in October) (2240)
Hemispheric security cooperation must be more coordinated and
intensified to address 21st-century challenges, according to U.S.
Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (0AS)
Roger Noriega.
In June 25 remarks to the Inter-American Defense College, Noriega
noted that as the dangers of the Cold War have faded, they have been
replaced by new threats such as terrorism, narcotics and arms
trafficking, and transnational criminal enterprises.
These new threats, Noriega said, require "coordinated, cooperative and
multilateral" responses by hemispheric governments, since "no one
state can address them alone."
Noriega said that the Special Conference On Hemispheric Security to be
held in Mexico in October will provide an opportunity to define a
common hemispheric vision of security in the 21st century.
To ensure a successful conference, Noriega indicated that hemispheric
leaders must engage in a thorough debate "to define the existing and
emerging threats and sources of insecurity, take stock of existing
tools for dealing with them, and consider any additional methods and
measures required."
The continued relevance of the Rio Treaty is among the issues to be
debated prior to the conference. The Rio Treaty, established in 1947,
recognizes an attack on one OAS member as an attack on all the others.
Noriega said the United States believes the Rio Treaty "remains an
essential tool in our security architecture." He described the treaty
as the "lone legally binding security instrument that we can all use
for our mutual defense," adding that the United States is eager to
discuss how the treaty can complement other security tools and
As the hemisphere works to bolster its security architecture, Noriega
said, attention must also focus on early identification of sources of
conflict and measures to address them. To these ends, he called for
strengthening OAS conflict prevention and dispute resolution
Noriega argued that in the 21st century, the hemisphere's security
architecture must also include a "more formal structure and process
for developing and implementing new confidence- and security-building
Ultimately, the end product of the Special Conference on Security,
Noriega concluded, "must be a framework that all states find relevant
to their security concerns and in which they can all participate
effectively and to their mutual benefit."
Following is the text of Noriega's remarks, as prepared for delivery:
(begin text)
"The Complex Challenges of the 21st Century"
Ambassador Roger F. Noriega, U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS
Graduation Ceremony of the Inter-American Defense College 
Washington, D.C. 
June 25, 2003
Graduates, ambassadors, distinguished guests:
I would like to congratulate the graduates of the Inter-American
Defense College (IADC) for your successful completion of the rewarding
educational and professional opportunities at the College.
The time you have spent here at the Inter-American Defense College has
helped prepare you to help your countries address the defense and
security challenges they face in the Americas in the 21st century.
I have no doubt that the knowledge, personal relationships, and sense
of community that you take from this experience will serve you well.
Your studies here will pay lasting dividends for your corps, for your
nation and for the Americas as a whole.
The dangers of the Cold War have faded, but they have been replaced by
new and complex challenges.
New, multifaceted, and prominent threats in the hemisphere have
emerged requiring coordinated, cooperative, and multilateral responses
by all of us.
Terrorism, illicit trafficking in arms, narcotics and precursor
chemicals, attacks on critical infrastructure and transnational
criminal enterprises threaten democracy and undermine the security and
prosperity of our citizens in too many of our states.
These threats require common multilateral responses by our
governments, because no one state can address them alone. These
threats spawn crosscutting problems that require multifaceted
responses by the whole range of state institutions -- each playing
their appropriate role, with full respect for democratic principles
and human rights.
In short, security cooperation within and among our countries must be
more coordinated and intensified.
In the Americas, our common security rests on the pillars of
democracy, prosperity and peace. With this as our shared objective,
let me offer several guideposts for a successful outcome to the
Special Conference on Hemispheric Security that will be held in Mexico
in October.
First and foremost, after a year of preparatory meetings, it is not
too late for genuine consultations to define our hemisphere's common
vision of regional security in the 21st century. In order to produce
an authentic and significant conference, the results must reflect a
consensus representing the views of all of our member states.
Through a thorough and collegial dialogue laying the foundation for
the Mexico conference, we must seek to define the existing and
emerging threats and sources of insecurity, take stock of existing
tools for dealing with them, and consider any additional methods and
measures required.
We should take care not to settle for an overly broad, unfocused
definition that renders the term "security" meaningless and renders
our security goals unattainable.
For that reason, although many issues -- such as development, public
health, the environment, and social concerns -- are all very
important, they are best addressed by other appropriate instruments,
such as the OAS, the Summit process, or regional development agencies.
We must continue to support existing mechanisms and institutions, and
reaffirm the essential purposes of our hemispheric security
arrangements, which include the OAS Charter and the Rio Treaty.
Fundamentally, the inter-American community must make itself ready to
deter and to defend against any threat of aggression toward another
That being said, as the date for the conference approaches, there
remain numerous fundamental issues that we have yet to discuss in
preparing for the Special Conference. For example, we have not
explored the fundamental legal instruments supporting our hemispheric
security architecture: the Rio Treaty and the OAS Charter.
Let me be clear: my government believes the Rio Treaty remains an
essential tool in our security architecture, noting that it is the
lone legally binding security instrument that we can all use for our
mutual defense. Moreover, its relevance was underscored when it was
invoked to respond to the unimaginable attacks of September 11.
I concede that not all countries share this assessment. However, we
are eager to exchange views on how the Rio Treaty will continue to
complement other tools and new political commitments that we make in
the security area.
We would be remiss not to have a genuinely open discussion of these
issues prior to the Special Conference in Mexico. Moreover, this
debate and reflection are essential so that the Special Conference
succeeds in identifying new threats and security challenges that have
evolved and emerged, and recognizing the steps our nations already
have taken to address them, through the OAS and by other mechanisms.
Our security architecture must identify early potential sources of
conflict and take measures to deal with them. The inter-American
conflict prevention and resolution capabilities of the OAS must be
strengthened by adoption of appropriate mechanisms, measures and tools
for early warning, the peaceful settlement of disputes and the
prevention of conflict. This applies to conflicts within states, as
well as those between states.
Responding to these potential conflicts, our security architecture
must include a more formal structure and process for developing and
implementing new confidence- and security-building measures.
For example, we should build upon the success of the Summit-mandated
Miami meeting on CSBMs that produced a practical roadmap for resolving
interstate border tensions, lowering pressure for arms spending,
promoting democratic norms, and fostering a climate of trust,
transparency, and cooperation in our hemisphere over the next century.
Our security architecture must recognize the important contributions
of existing sub-regional arrangements, agreements and measures that
foster hemispheric security. For example, the Regional Security System
(RSS) of the Caribbean and the Framework Treaty on Democratic Security
in Central America both play an important role in defining our present
and future security architecture.
Finally, the product of the hemisphere s Special Conference on
Security must be a framework that all states find relevant to their
security concerns and in which they can all participate effectively
and to their mutual benefit.
Two institutions in the inter-American system that are adapting to
face these new security challenges are the Inter-American Defense
Board and the Inter-American Defense College.
The graduates know first-hand that the College is an integral
component of the inter-American security architecture, which
indirectly but quite consciously bolsters democracy by bringing
together defense and security experts from throughout the hemisphere
to hone their professional capabilities.
Under Major General Freeman's able leadership, the College has begun
to expand both its curriculum and student body to respond to the new
realities of the hemisphere. The increased civilian enrollment at the
College is a notable development that recognizes the growing nexus
between traditional defense and emerging security issues.
Also, the defense advice and expertise provided to the OAS by the
Inter-American Defense Board and its staff has been valuable and
Unfortunately, in spite of our growing need for professional advice in
this specialized area, our political bodies have not made adequate use
of the Board.
Our reluctance to task the Board is due to political and institutional
prejudices that have gone unchallenged within the inter-American
system, despite the fact that within each of our countries there is a
practical willingness to consider changing roles for our security
The impediments we face here -- starting with the essential need to
clarify the juridical link between the Board and the OAS -- should be
addressed by our governments, openly and constructively.
Frankly, it is not productive for some to say that the Board should
continue to exist but only under its current mandate and structure,
and with no tasks to perform. If we do not find a way of modernizing
and employing this unique resource, we run the risk of losing it.
We must reach a common and consensual vision to give the Board an
improved and strengthened role in the future, because it is
self-evident that the OAS must have the defense and security resources
and expertise necessary so it can respond to the security concerns of
member states.
When the hemisphere meets at the Special Conference on Security in
Mexico later this year, I am confident that we will agree to
strengthen the College and the Board so that they are better able to
respond to the needs of the OAS member states and provide the defense
and security, educational, advisory, and technical expertise needed by
We hope that the Special Conference in Mexico will produce a strong,
clear and visionary final declaration that embodies our common
approach to hemispheric security for the 21st century. We have a
unique opportunity to forge an ambitious declaration and action plan
that will guide our security agenda for years to come. The region
needs a visionary but practical declaration that at least addresses
our current reality and, hopefully, stands the test of time.
As I noted, after the terrorist attacks in our hemisphere in September
2001, our hemispheric security architecture, including the Rio Treaty,
was applied and found to be remarkably flexible and responsive.
You are completing your studies at a challenging time for our
hemisphere. After a decade of positive news in the region, economic
growth is down, and inflation is up. Current growth rates are
inadequate to generate sufficient jobs for growing populations, let
alone to address chronic poverty.
Elected leaders in many countries are grappling with persistent
political, economic, social, and, in some cases, ethnic tensions.
Several countries are confronting costly security threats either in
terms of narco-terrorism or violent crime.
Corruption and inefficiency have stunted economic development and
spawned popular disenchantment with free-market prescriptions. In some
countries, these factors have combined to produce violent outbursts,
which relatively weak institutions of government are hard-pressed to
control. We can, we must, and we will do better.
I see a community of nations, sharing common political values, sharing
peaceful borders, and sharing an economic destiny.
Where some see flat economic growth, we see governments adhering to a
responsible economic path and recessions bottoming out as our own
economy continues to rebound.
Where some see persistent poverty, we see leaders stoking the engine
of robust trade and investment that will generate enough income so
that the poor can improve their lives.
Where some see people questioning democracy itself, we see them
choosing their leaders and settling disputes through peaceful,
constitutional means with democratic traditions and institutions
growing stronger every day.
Where some see sister republics under attack by narco-terrorists, we
see strong, determined, democratic presidents leading their people and
meeting the challenge and worthy of our help.
Where some see popular skepticism toward the United States in Latin
America, we see ourselves inexorably growing together in every sense
of that expression.
Opportunities abound in the Americas -- not merely to build a trade
area embracing 800 million consumers and $14 trillion in GDP, but to
consolidate a community of friendly nations that share our commitment
to democracy, free enterprise, and broad-based economic growth.
Your training at the College prepares each of you to make a greater
contribution to our inter-American community.
I congratulate you on your accomplishments today, and wish each and
every one of you the best in your professional endeavors.
Thank you.
(end text)
(Distributed by the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: http://usinfo.state.gov)

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