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07 October 2003

OAS Calls for Coordinated Global Approach to Combat Terrorism

Salvadoran official says anti-terror efforts must have popular support

Addressing an anti-terrorism meeting at the Organization of American States (OAS) headquarters in Washington, El Salvador's Foreign Affairs Minister Maria Eugenia Brizuela has called for a coordinated global approach to combating international terrorism, according to an OAS press release.

Chairing the meeting's opening session on October 7, Brizuela told international counter-terrorism experts that OAS and United Nations anti-terrorism resolutions must have strong popular support if they are to succeed. The meeting, attended by participants from around the world, was organized by the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE).

During the day-long session, officials and experts discussed how regional organizations can disseminate information and best practices among member states and the role of these organizations in building the counter-terrorism capacity of these member states, the press release said.

Following is the text of the press release, with further details:

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ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
Washington, D.C.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 7, 2003

Global Anti-Terrorism Meeting at OAS
Renews Call for Coordinated Action

Inaugurating an anti-terrorism meeting at Organization of American States (OAS) headquarters today, El Salvador's Foreign Affairs Minister Marķa Eugenia Brizuela de Avila renewed the call for a coordinated, world-wide approach to combating international terrorism. She told senior international counter-terrorism experts that existing OAS and United Nations anti-terrorism resolutions, inadequate by themselves, must have strong support from citizens if they are to succeed.

"These instruments establish the legal parameters for all regions and governments to collaborate to devise effective strategies and implement policies to dismantle networks that provide financial and logistical support to terrorists, while preserving the rights of our peoples," she asserted, chairing the opening session of the meeting organized by the OAS Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE). "We must strengthen our common defenses against those who could abuse our democratic values to impose their views by force."

The Salvadoran Minister noted the extremely high price the hemisphere has paid in fighting terrorism, but expressed the collective determination "not to ever allow a repeat of the scourge," saying regional organizations such as the OAS have a vital role as catalysts and intermediaries, working in conjunction with the U.N. Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) to meet specific needs of member states.

Minister Brizuela de Avila also paid special tribute to the late Brazilian international civil servant Sergio Vieira de Mello and others killed during an attack on the U.N. offices in Baghdad, Iraq, in late August.

Meanwhile, OAS Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi described CICTE as "a functioning reality," and hailed the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism as "the product of our collective determination not to allow terrorists and their supporters to threaten our societies or our democracies." He pointed to important OAS accomplishments in the fight against terrorism, notably since the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on the United States, including active programs in 11 states, observer status with the Financial Action Task Force of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), working relationships and information exchanges with many international organizations, and a communications network linking national points of contact in member states.

In his remarks, the Chairman of the U.N. Counter-Terrorism Committee, Spain's Ambassador to the U.N. Inocencio Arias, observed that a number of states, while demonstrating the political will to fight terrorism, "lack the proper instruments to do so." He cited international codes, best practices and model legislation as keys to success. Arias also commended the OAS and CICTE initiative in hosting the meeting. "Both have become a model for how to assume responsibilities in the fight against terrorism," he added.

During their day-long meeting, the officials and experts are discussing topics as how regional organizations distribute information and best practices among member states; best practices and self-assessment; the role of regional organizations in building counter-terrorism capacity of member states; and implementing the program.

CICTE Executive Secretary Steven Monblatt participated on a panel discussing the distribution of information and best practices, along with Ambassador Jan Kubis, Secretary General of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, among others.

The European Commission, Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation, the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime, the African Union's Permanent Mission to the U.N., the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the Commonwealth Secretariat were among those represented.

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