Press Release


OAS Calls for Strengthening Multilateralism in Favor of Nuclear Disarmament and Nonproliferation

  March 28, 2011

The Committee on Hemispheric Security of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today called for strengthening the multilateral mechanisms to promote nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation during a meeting at which experts from various international organizations held a dialogue with Member State representatives on current concerns in this subject. The meeting also served as a prologue to the seminar held by the Inter-American Defense College on the same topic March 29 and 30 in Washington, DC.

The OAS Secretary for Multidimensional Security, Adam Blackwell, said nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation efforts are “a global challenge that requires a global response.” That is why the OAS collaborates with the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL), the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament, and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-LiREC), among other international institutions, with the final objective of strengthening peace and security in the hemisphere.

Ambassador Blackwell asserted that despite the many uses of nuclear technology, it is necessary to pay special attention to the risks it entails. “We cannot ignore the potentially disastrous consequences of nuclear proliferation on our society.” The Canadian diplomat added that the Member States of the OAS “are cognizant of the fact that the creation of nuclear weapons free zones is an important step that will significantly strengthen all aspects of the international nonproliferation regime as outlined in the Treaty of Tlatelolco,” as the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean is known.

Through its Department of Defense and Hemispheric Security, the OAS works towards promoting confidence and security-building measures that have contributed to the improvement of security and have created cooperation and trust between the states of the hemisphere. At the same time, it promotes disarmament and nonproliferation treaties, such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the Treaty of Tlatelolco, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention, among others.

For his part, the Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the OAS and Chairman of the Committee on Hemispheric Security, Ambassador Jorge Skinner-Klee, asserted that the OAS “is the natural space for the continuous generation of a climate of trust among States” to make progress towards disarmament and nonproliferation. “Our Organization is called to play a defining role towards defense, peace and security in the Americas,” he recalled.

“The issue of disarmament and nonproliferation has been of great importance for this committee since there is no doubt that it is tied closely to the process of consolidating international stability,” Ambassador Skinner-Klee continued. While Latin America and the Caribbean may be the “most peaceful region in the world,” the Guatemalan diplomat asserted that “it is more and more necessary to raise awareness of these issues among our peoples.”

The Director of the Inter-American Defense College, Admiral Moira Flanders, recalled that since its foundation in 1962, the college has taught students from 24 countries, including many who have had distinguished political careers and have become leaders in their countries. Admiral Flanders explained that the seminar will feature the participation of members of the Committee on Hemispheric Security, students from the College and world-renowned experts.

Director Flanders thanked the OAS for the opportunity it offered its students to participate at the meeting as observers, and added that “I hope this cooperation will be of great value and will become an annual collaboration between the Committee on Hemispheric Security and the College.”

Sergio Duarte, United Nations High Representative for Disarmament, emphasized that “both disarmament and nonproliferation are needed” and “must be pursued simultaneously, not sequentially.” “They are two wheels of the bicycle that will take us to a world without nuclear weapons.”

Duarte made a presentation on the history of global efforts to control or eliminate weapons of mass destruction, emphasizing that it is important to know this history in understanding current obstacles and constructing future initiatives to achieve such goals. He also said that regional approaches by institutions such as the OAS will continue to play an important role in reaching these goals at the global level.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.

Reference: E-588/11