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Security of small island states

 

First High-Level Meeting

 

HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON THE
SPECIAL SECURITY CONCERNS OF
SMALL ISLAND STATES
February 25, 1998
San Salvador, El Salvador
OEA/Ser.K/XXIX.3
SEPEIN/doc.9/98
7 April 1998
Original: Spanish

FINAL REPORT OF THE HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON THE SPECIAL SECURITY CONCERNS OF SMALL ISLAND STATES FINAL REPORT OF THE HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON THE SPECIAL SECURITY CONCERNS OF SMALL ISLAND STATES

I. BACKGROUND

The Regional Conference on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures, held in Santiago, Chile, November 8 to 10, 1995, approved the Declaration of Santiago on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures which included, among the confidence-building measures considered, the holding “of a high-level meeting on the special security concerns of small island states”.

On the basis of work conducted by the Permanent Council’s Committee on Hemispheric Security, the General Assembly, at its twenty-sixth regular session, adopted Resolution AG/RES. 1410 (XXVI-O/96) which called for the convening of a special session of the Committee on Hemispheric Security to consider the special security concerns of small island states, to be held in Washington D.C., with the participation of governmental experts from the Organization’s member states. It also decided to continue consultations on the holding of a high-level meeting on the security concerns of small island states, to consider the conclusions of the special session of the Committee on Hemispheric Security in this matter.

The special session of the Committee on Hemispheric Security referred to was held in the headquarters of the OAS on October 17 and 18, 1996, and produced the respective report of the Permanent Council to the General Assembly / and the Report of the Rapporteur /, as well as addendum 2 to document AG/doc.2838/92 entitled “Hemispheric Security: the Security of Small Island States. Report of the Commonwealth Group”.

The General Assembly, at its twenty-seventh regular session, adopted Resolution AG/RES. 1497 (XXVII-O/97) in which it decided, among other things, to instruct the Permanent Council, through the Committee on Hemispheric Security, to continue its consultations with a view to holding a high-level meeting on the security concerns of small island states, taking into consideration the results of the special session referred to.

In accordance with this mandate, which the Permanent Council assigned to the Committee on Hemispheric Security in July 1997, the Committee agreed to hold a high-level meeting on the matter. At its meeting of October 20, 1997, the then Vice Minister of Foreign Relations of El Salvador, Dr. Luis Arturo Zaldivar Romero, offered the city of San Salvador as the site for that meeting, and proposed that it be held on February 25, 1998. The Committee held a preparatory meeting on December 15, 1997, to consider the agenda that would be discussed at the high-level meeting / and agreed to recommend to the Permanent Council that it be convened for February 25, 1998, in San Salvador, to deal with the points on the draft agenda. / At that time, it transmitted to the Permanent Council a draft resolution to this effect. The Permanent Council, on December 18, 1997, adopted resolution CP/RES. 716 (1144/97) convening the High Level Meeting on the Special Security Concerns of Small Island States, to be held in San Salvador, El Salvador, on February 25, 1998, approved the draft agenda for that meeting, and thanked the Government of El Salvador for offering to host the meeting.

II. THE HIGH-LEVEL MEETING ON THE SPECIAL SECURITY CONCERNS OF SMALL ISLAND STATES

A. Preparatory work

On February 25, 1998, at 9:00 a.m., the opening session was held, during which the interim chair of the meeting, Mr. René Eduardo Domínguez, Vice Minister of Foreign Relations of El Salvador, declared the High-Level Meeting in session and proceeded to convene the first plenary.

B. Officers

The High-Level Meeting elected by acclamation Mr. René Eduardo Domínguez, Vice Minister of Foreign Relations of El Salvador, as chairman, and Mr. Carlos Perdomo, head of the delegation of Belize, as vice chairman.

C. Agenda, rules of procedure and schedule

The High-Level Meeting on the Special Security Concerns of Small Island States proceeded to formalize the decisions taken by the OAS Permanent Council, and approved the following agenda /:

1. Security concerns of Caribbean states and confidence- and security-building measures adopted:

• The drug trade, the illegal trafficking in firearms and other international criminal activities.

• The effects of natural disasters, climate change and pollution of the Caribbean Sea on the security of small island states.

• The transshipment of nuclear wastes through the Caribbean Sea.

• Effects of the banana market crisis on the security of the Caribbean and on that of other countries of the hemisphere.

• Effects of the economic indicators used by multilateral organizations on the security of small island states.

• The Regional Security System and wider Caribbean cooperation within the hemisphere.

• Cooperation in the mitigation of natural disasters.

• The Caribbean as a zone of peace.

2. The Declaration of Santiago on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures: relationship with the special security concerns of small island states.

3. Conclusions and recommendations

The high-level meeting also approved its rules of procedure, in accordance with the draft that had been approved by the Committee on Hemispheric Security on February 19, 1998, and adopted the draft schedule / that the chairman submitted for its consideration.

D. Interventions

In accordance with the established program, the chairman of the meeting made a statement, which was followed by addresses from the Secretary General of the Organization, Mr. César Gaviria, and the Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Christopher Thomas /.

The heads of delegation then gave a series of presentations / on the points included in the agenda, in accordance with the provisions of Article 14 of the meeting’s rules of procedure. The major speeches highlighted the special security concerns of small island states in the Caribbean, based on the concept that for these states, security has a multidimensional character with respect to its scope and application. In addition to the interventions of representatives of OAS member states, the representative of the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB), at the invitation of the chairman, also gave a presentation. /

III. CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

Following the statements and an exchange of views, the plenary session adopted the following conclusions and recommendations /:

CONCLUSIONS

The High-Level Meeting concludes the following:

1. Security for small island states has a multidimensional character as to its scope and application, and includes inter alia: i) the political and military aspects traditionally associated with the security of states; ii) the protection and preservation of the sovereignty and territorial integrity of states; iii) freedom from attack and military coercion; iv) freedom from external interference in their internal affairs by states or non-state perpetrators; v) protection against environmental factors and ecological risks that could pose a threat to their survival; vi) the link between trade, economic development and security; and vii) the capacity to maintain and protect their democratic institutions and so ensure their domestic tranquillity.

2. The security of small island states can be enhanced through cooperation among island states, as has been demonstrated under the Regional Security System, and can be further ensured through greater cooperation between the island states themselves and other states within and beyond the hemisphere, by means of human resource development activities and logistical support and the purchase of equipment.

3. The security of small island states can be improved by applying confidence- and security-building measures as called for in the Declaration of Santiago, and through additional measures emerging from the Regional Conference of San Salvador on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures in follow-up to the Santiago Conference.

4. The security of small island states can be increased if the Caribbean is declared a Zone of Peace.

RECOMMENDATIONS

The high-level meeting recommends the following:

1. That the twenty-eighth regular session of the OAS General Assembly should approve a resolution defining the focus and form for attending to the special security concerns of small island states, in accordance with the provisions of the OAS Charter.

2. That through such a resolution, the twenty-eighth regular session of the General Assembly should instruct the Organization to cooperate with small island states through the University of the West Indies (UWI) to conduct an examination of these special security concerns.

3. That the member states of the Organization of American States, at the Regional Conference of San Salvador on Confidence and Security-Building Measures in follow-up to the Santiago Conference, should include the following text in the Declaration of San Salvador:

• commitment and support for the activities and programs that the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States and the organs, agencies and entities of the inter-American system may continue to carry out in order to address the question of security for small island states;

• cooperation with small island states in the eradication of transnational criminal activities that threaten the stability and security of the subregion;

• review and strengthening of programs for cooperation in the event of natural disasters, or to prevent such disasters, acting at the request and with the authorization of the states concerned;

• formulation of a program for cooperation to address the problems presented by the transshipment of nuclear wastes and other hazardous materials through the Caribbean Sea, and to adopt policies to preserve the natural environment of the Caribbean;

• greater financial, commercial and political cooperation with small island states so that they can ensure their security and promote their development; and

• an appeal to member states of the Organization of American States to exchange and share information that might serve to strengthen the capacity of small island states in matters regarding their security and national defense.

IV. CLOSING SESSION

After a brief summary of proceedings by the Chairman of the OAS Committee on Hemispheric Security, Ambassador Lionel A. Hurst, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the OAS, the Chairman declared the High-Level Meeting closed.

APPENDIX I

STATEMENTS DURING THE OPENING SESSION /

1. Remarks by the Secretary General, Dr. César Gaviria 2. Statement by the Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Christopher R. Thomas

[Secretary General’s Speech available only in hard copy

Statement by Ambassador Christopher R. Thomas Assistant Secretary General, Organization of American States at the High-Level Meeting on the Special Security Concerns of Small Island States

San Salvador, El Salvador, February 25, 1998

Mr. Chairman, Mr. Vice Chairman, Mr. Secretary General, President of the Permanent Council, Ambassadors, Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen:

The special meeting of the Committee on Hemispheric Security on the Special Security Concerns of Small Island States defined small island states as those states “characterized by: limited domestic markets, open economies with high dependence on trade, dependence on one or two exports of primary products, and raw materials destined for one or two major markets.”

In the political, economic, and social circumstances of today, this spells vulnerability and precariousness of the highest order. This is why this meeting, as were those that preceded it on the problem of security of small island states, is so important to the region today. It is a subject, which encompasses every dimension of the development initiative and consequently at the heart of the agenda of our organization. Today’s meeting brings together high level officials around this critical topic and testifies to the commitment of the OAS in responding to the needs of all member states.

The process of refining and redefining the policies and measures by which the Organization of American States seeks to respond to and serve the needs of member states, more familiarly known as the New Vision, has effectively been launched. It began during a period of cataclysmic change in the international system as the world moved from the Cold War context of military and nuclear determinants of security, to the post-Cold War context where security is an engagement function of social, economic, environmental, and cultural questions.

These non-traditional determinants of security, which are now internationally recognized as the new agenda for peace, have, in the case of island states of our region, served to profile a new dimension of political stability on which the democracy of our most vulnerable member states must be anchored.

In the case of the Caribbean member states of our hemisphere, these are critical generic factors. For whereas in a former environment, circumstantial or external military might characterized a compelling dimension of security for small island states of our hemisphere and indeed the world, in this the evolving post modern era, external economic, social, and cultural factors, will continually and progressively, determine the national security concerns of small island states. Where these factors militate against their economic and social stability, they constitute threats to the political stability of the smaller member states of the region as a whole.

In this regard the security threats to the region could stem from external as well as internal factors, much of which cannot be managed or contained by individual national initiatives. External threats posed by drugs and their corrosive institutional damage, terrorism, unbalanced trading arrangements--particularly in the case of the Eastern Caribbean—nuclear waste disposal, and natural disasters should not be underestimated.

The repercussions of some of these factors are easily recognized. Others are not so manifest though their destabilising effects can be tremendous. It is not always readily admitted how economic arrangements, terrorism, and certain environmental questions constitute security issues in the Caribbean as compared to issues like nuclear waste disposal, natural disasters, and drugs, which are more globally familiar. They do constitute, however, critical important security concerns.

The dismantling of trading arrangements on which the economies of small states largely depend is potentially detrimental to the social, political, and general national structure of those countries. The impact of such measures could further entrench structural poverty, which is the single most important threat to the security of small states. Our region must, undoubtedly, agree and accept that economic hardship brought on by arrangements that fail to consider the particular situation of small states could inevitably lead to their serious political destabilisation. It becomes axiomatic therefore, that there can be no development without security and no security without development.

The economic, social, and cultural development of member states, through cooperative action and the strengthening of peace and security throughout the Continent, are among the fundamental purposes of our organization. Collaboration for the security concerns of small island states, given their clearly established and recognized particularities, must therefore of necessity further this important dimension of our regional vocation.

The hemispheric agenda definition and treatment of security concerns for small island states also answers a persistent political question - namely, the commitment of the larger historic membership of our organization in the search and promotion of functional integration of Caribbean member states. This meeting today serves to propagate, therefore, at a most timely opportunity, the wider ethos of hemispheric cooperation in furthering the testimony of the growth and increasing consciousness of our organization’s ultimate purpose. The substantial presence of CARICOM members here today undoubtedly, furthers this progressive development as we continue to shape the New Vision of our organization.

The Caribbean states themselves have already taken significant initiatives in the search for and promotion of their security. These include a regional security system and their cooperation with hemispheric partners over a wide range of cogent and fundamental socio-economic imperatives in the context of continuing and critical regional concerns.

Many factors, however, point to the need for further consolidation. This meeting will undoubtedly reflect the region’s determination to adopt concrete measure to meet the needs and concerns of small island states for genuine security through dialogue and mutual partnership, as well as mechanisms and prescriptive actions for effective regional advancement in this area. Certain concrete proposals and recommendations have already been advanced through ongoing regional interaction and constructive political dialogue. Our meeting must focus these ongoing processes in specific action orientated programs.

The formulation by this meeting of security and peace measures in the form of practical institutional realization can serve to institute certain vanguard measures of our organization in the fulfillment of our new vision for the twenty-first century to the enduring benefit of the island states of our hemisphere.

As Assistant Secretary General of our organization, I express the hope and expectation that together we will be able to secure this important and decisive objective and thank the Government of El Salvador for this most timely invitation.

ANEXO II

DISCURSOS PRONUNCIADOS EN LA SESIÓN PLENARIA /

1. Statement by the Honourable Radford Hill, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Antigua y Barbuda: Effects of natural disasters, climate change and pollution of the Caribbean Sea on the security of small island states. 2. Statement by the Permanent Representative of St. Lucia to the OAS, Ambassador Sonia Johnny: Transshipment of nuclear waste through the Caribbean Sea. 3. Remarks by the Permanent Representative of Guyana to the OAS, Ambassador Odeen Ishmael: Climate change, pollution of the Caribbean Sea and transshipment of nuclear waste through the Caribbean Sea. 4. Presentation by the Ambassador of Jamaica to Mexico, Ambassador Cordell Wilson: Effects of the banana-market crisis on the security of Caribbean and other states in the Hemisphere 5. Statement by the Permanent Representative of St. Lucia to the OAS, Ambassador Sonia Johnny: The banana situation and the question of security 6. Statement by the Alternate Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the OAS, Ms. Deborah-Mae Lovell: Effects on the security of small island states of economic indicators used by the multilateral organizations 7. Statement by the Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the OAS, Ambassador Lionel A. Hurst: The Regional Security System (RSS) and wider Caribbean cooperation within the Hemisphere 8. Statement by the Permanent Representative of Suriname to the OAS, Ambassador Albert Ramdin: The Caribbean as a Zone of Peace 9. Statement by the Honourable Radford Hill, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Antigua y Barbuda: Declaration of Santiago on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures: Relevance to the special security concerns of small island states. 10. Remarks by the Chairman of the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB), Major General John C. Thompson: Use of military assets in relief efforts in response to natural disasters. 11. Closing remarks by the Chair of the OAS Committee on Hemispheric Security, Permanent Representative of Antigua and Barbuda to the OAS, Ambassador Lionel A. Hurst.

[THE OTHER SPEECHES ARE AVAILABLE ONLY IN HARD COPY].

 


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