January 28, 2002
HEMISPHERE SHOULD COMBAT TERRORISM AS
PRIORITY--OAS SECRETARY GENERAL
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
"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
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 countrieswithout exceptionhave 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