Organization of American States

January 28, 2002


            Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General César Gaviria today urged the international community to remain steadfast in its commitment to fighting terrorism as a priority for this Hemisphere. 

            "Terrorism seeks to cripple our societies and to disrupt the rule of law in our countries, and our response must therefore be firm," the Secretary General asserted while inaugurating the Second Regular Session of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE).    The session ends Tuesday. 

            Turning to the "infamous" September 11 attacks on the United States, Gaviria stressed that "there is absolutely no doubt that the extremists wanted to undermine confidence in our democratic system and in the values upon which our societies are based." 

            He observed that over the last four months "the inter-American community has met at the OAS in relentless pursuit of the mandates that the Hemisphere's Foreign Ministers issued at their consultation meeting last September 21. Mr. Gaviria went on to say that "all of the countries—without exception—have rallied around the United States in a consolidated coalition to provide the kind of legitimacy needed to operate with the full political backing of the international community." 

            United States Attorney General John Ashcroft told the first plenary session that without any hesitation whatsoever, the OAS was the first multilateral organization to step forward to officially condemn the September 11 terrorist acts. 

Although the Western Hemisphere has suffered terrorism for decades, the tragic events of September 11 have turned more and more attention to the rising threat our Hemisphere faces from domestic and international terrorist groups, declared Ashcroft.   In response to these threats, he remarked, the OAS has taken some very important initiatives to prevent a repeat of those heinous acts of terrorism. 

            The Attorney General commended CICTE for its important role in the fight against terrorism.  He also outlined concrete measures that could accomplish this objective, including: stepped-up border controls; more effective measures to track down and confiscate terrorists' assets; and sharing of experiences among countries, through training programs.  

Steven Monblatt, Chairman of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism, opened the session, after which several delegation heads outlined their respective country reports on measures being taken to combat terrorism.