29 October 2003
U.S. and Other OAS States Cite New Terror Threat to Western Hemisphere
OAS meeting yields declaration about security
By Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington -- Terrorism, transnational organized crime, and attacks
on cyber security are some of the new challenges facing the Western
Hemisphere, say representatives from the countries that participated
in an October 27-28 security summit in Mexico City held by the
Organization of American States (OAS).
A seven-page "Declaration on Security in the Americas" issued
October 28 by the United States and the other active members of
the OAS at the conclusion of the Mexico City event covered a number
of issues important to the hemisphere, including the need to fight
new terrorist threats, "whatever their origin or motivation, such
as threats to cyber security, biological terrorism, and threats
to critical infrastructure." In the declaration, the nations expressed
their concern that terrorists have the possibility of access to,
possession of, and use of weapons of mass destruction and their
means of delivery.
The declaration said that meeting the new "threats, concerns,
and other challenges in the hemispheric context" must be expanded
from "the traditional concept and approach ... to encompass new
and nontraditional threats, which include political, economic,
social, health, and environmental aspects."
Roger Noriega, U.S. assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere
affairs, said in an October 24 pre-summit briefing that peace in
the region is "built on the pillars of democracy, prosperity, and
security, and our nations must take steps to defend these essential
Security is a "multi-dimensional characteristic in the Americas," said
Noriega, "and we're not just speaking of the traditional threats
to security or tensions among and between countries, but also social
and security tensions that exist within countries that we all want
to address in common and as a community."
Promoting democracy in the hemisphere was another issue discussed
in the Mexico City declaration. The OAS member states called democracy "a
right and an essential shared value that contributes to the stability,
peace, and development" of nations in the region. The declaration
said that democracy would be promoted and defended through use
of the OAS Inter-American Democratic Charter and strengthening
of the inter-American system for protecting human rights.
The nations also expressed their intention to address "on an urgent
basis" extreme poverty, inequality, and social exclusion.
"Overcoming these unacceptable conditions is a primary task of
the states of the hemisphere, which requires continued commitment
and actions to promote economic and social development, and education," said
the OAS member states.
Other issues addressed in the declaration included the problems
of HIV/AIDS, transporting hazardous materials at sea, natural and
man-made disasters, environmental deterioration, drug trafficking,
and global climate change. On that latter issue, the nations expressed
their commitment to "working in coordination in order to mitigate
the adverse effects that global climate change could have on our
The entire declaration can be found on the OAS Web site at: www.oas.org.