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OAS Secretary General: The Fight Against Terrorism must be based on International Cooperation, with Full Respect for Human Rights and the Rule of Law

  September 19, 2011

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said today at the United Nations that “no ideal is more cherished by the OAS than the defense of the life, dignity, and inalienable rights of human beings,” and highlighted that the fight against terrorism must be based on two pillars: international cooperation and the unwavering respect for the rule of law and fundamental human rights.

During his speech at the symposium on International Counter-Terrorism Cooperation, held in the framework of the 66th UN General Assembly, Secretary General Insulza recalled that ten years ago, on the same day as the terrible attacks on the United States, the Inter-American Democratic Charter was born in Lima, Peru, “as a reaffirmation of the region's commitment to democracy and human rights and as an unwavering response to those terrible events that sought to undermine, and even destroy, the principles and values in which democracy is rooted.”

The leader of the hemispheric institution noted the recent advances in terms of international treaties and the national, regional and global measures adopted; and recalled that the work of multilateral institutions that cooperate against terrorism “constitutes a complex network of actions to prevent and combat terrorism, which can still be improved but which has also, undoubtedly, proved effective.” He further said that in the past ten years, “despite the despicable attacks that have occurred, many have been thwarted and considerable progress has been made in combating the scourge of terrorism,” and highlighted that those advances “would not have been possible without the international cooperation that counter-terrorist policies, by their very nature, rely on.”

The OAS Secretary General stressed that “international cooperation is crucial and a necessary condition for peace to prevail over acts of terrorism,” and suggested the creation of a globally consensual vision on which the international cooperation against terror will be based. “This vision must be strategic, optimistic, and tested for success,” he said, and must be based on two pillars: “deepening and perfecting international cooperation, which in practice involves ratifying regional and universal treaties in this field, and the complete compatibility of the fight against terrorism with respect for the rule of law and human rights.”

In his speech, Secretary General Insulza underscored the key role of international, regional, and sub-regional organizations in the fight against terrorism and called upon those organizations to broaden their mutual cooperation. In that sense, he mentioned that the OAS has been promoting strategic partnerships at different levels during the implementation of its projects and has “triggered studies and programs designed to discern the points at which different contemporary manifestations of crime intersect, the methods and media they use, and their impact on our societies.”

In those regards, he mentioned that within the OAS framework the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism was adopted in 2002, after which Member States decided to provide the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE), created in 1999, with the necessary faculties to act as the Permanent Secretariat to support and advance the ideas contained in the Convention.

After recognizing the unique characteristics of terrorism as an “ever-changing threat,” the leader of the OAS reminded the representatives of the other international organizations that “we have come a long way in the past ten years toward equipping ourselves with the legal, institutional, and operational tools needed to defend ourselves against terrorism” and invited them once again to “strengthen cooperation among themselves and to address the terrorist threat from a multidimensional and comprehensive perspective.”

The complete speech by Secretary General Insulza is available here.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-846/11