Experts prepare for second hemispheric terrorism conference


October 15, 1998

Argentina’s Minister of the Interior, Carlos Corach, is proposing that an arrangement be worked out under which Organization of American States (OAS) member countries would take a coordinated approach to combating terrorism in the hemisphere.

Opening the preparatory meeting for the Second Inter-American Specialized Conference on Terrorism, at the OAS headquarters on Thursday, the Argentinean minister told the region’s experts that his proposal involved an arrangement for "a body that is not just bureaucratic nor merely to issue declarations, but rather a highly specialized governmental mechanism capable of handling information in real time and put at the disposal of national organizations."

The Argentinean minister also called for a convention, treaty or commitment by OAS member states to serve as a direct recourse for any state under or threatened by international terrorism to seek help from the parties to it. "Our proposals are intended to set out a common strategy, to create new tools to fight terrorism and drug trafficking as a bloc of nations determined to smash this new threat to our security," Dr. Corach said.

Noting that his government was hoping the meeting would find the consensus needed to undertake these new tasks, the interior minister declared that "this is a fight for our freedom, for a consolidation of our democracies that are facing a danger measured in thousands of million dollars derived from drug trafficking and circulated through terrorist channels that underwrite those activities. This is a danger no nation of the world should ignore."

At the preparatory meeting also, the chairman of the Working Group on Terrorism, Ambassador Julio César Araoz, remarked that when the hemisphere’s leaders met in Miami in 1994 for the first Summit of the Americas, they decided to call a specialized conference on terrorism. This was held in Lima, Peru, in 1996.

"The Lima Declaration and Plan of Action for regional cooperation to prevent, combat and eliminate terrorism are two important documents that will be examined by the experts meeting here in Washington," the Argentinean diplomat added.

He also referred to the Second Summit of the Americas held last April in Santiago, Chile, pointing out that there the leaders had called for a second specialized conference on terrorism, which would evaluate the progress made since the Lima meeting and chart the course for future action against terrorism. This second conference is to be held in Mar del Plata, Argentina, next November 23 and 24.

Ambassador Christopher Ross, a senior US State Department official, was elected by acclamation as chairman of the preparatory meeting, and the deputy interior minister of Argentina, José María Vernet, as vice chairman.

With the meeting declared open and officers elected, the experts began looking at the progress made on the Lima Action Plan and approved the agenda and schedule for the Second Specialized Conference on Terrorism. They then proceeded to study the preliminary documents to be presented at the Mar del Plata conference. The preparatory meeting ends on Friday afternoon.