Asserting that “in situations of institutional weakness, corruption, ineffective rule of law and organized crime networks, there is a greater likelihood of creating an environment in which terrorism may thrive,” the Organization of American States’ (OAS) Assistant Secretary General Albert R. Ramdin has suggested that, with the expanding hemispheric security agenda, the role of the OAS as a partner for peace and security will become even more critical.
He called for a common conception of global, hemispheric and regional security so as to improve existing international instruments, and urged more cooperation on conflict resolution as well as more effective coordination among institutions responsible for security at the national and sub-regional levels.
Ambassador Ramdin told participants at a forum at the Inter-American Defense College of how the OAS is restructuring programs and solidifying partnerships, including with the hemispheric Defense College, to support the security concerns of its 34 member states.
Ramdin was speaking on the role of the OAS in addressing the evolving security threats and challenges in the Western Hemisphere. Participants in the forum included member state ambassadors and other representatives of the diplomatic corps as well as Major General Keith Huber, Inter-American Defense College Director and Brigadier General, Julio Ernesto Florian, the IADC Chief of Studies.
According to Ambassador Ramdin, public policies must be pursued to reinforce social security with the objective of reducing extreme poverty and providing socio-economic opportunities, particularly for youth. He recommended further that civilian/military coordination be enhanced, “within the framework of democracy,” but noted that a clear legal framework is essential “so that the police do not become militarized or the armed forces acquire police functions.”
The Western Hemisphere must also contend with the unique set of characteristics that represent threats to the security and viability of small island states and make them vulnerable to risks and threats of a multidimensional and transnational nature, such as natural disasters, sudden changes in the global economy or systematic environmental damage. Human Trafficking is a growing problem for the Americas, said Ramdin, citing statistics of over 16,000 victims per year within between the US and Latin America and the Caribbean, and more than 12,000 trafficked between the Western Hemisphere and Europe. “Clearly, the commercial exploitation of human beings for profit is reprehensible and criminal.”
Urging the inter-American community to continue to create opportunities for deeper cooperation, he said the Inter-American Defense College and the Inter-American Defense Board can play an important role through its research and educational capacity. In this regard, he highlighted the “reinvigorated relationship” between the Defense College/Defense Board and the OAS to provide OAS and its member states with technical and educational advice on related military and defense issues in the Hemisphere.