Media Center

Press Release


  March 1, 2006

The Organization of American States member countries today decided to call a special session of the organization’s General Assembly to formalize the institutional relationship between the OAS and the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB). The thirty second special session will be held on March 16, at OAS headquarters in Washington.

Member state ambassadors and representatives in the Permanent Council agreed to approve the Defense Board’s definitive status as an OAS institution, after hearing a report by the Chairman of the Committee on Hemispheric Security, Chile’s Ambassador Esteban Tomic, which recommended adoption of a draft resolution and statutes for the Board.

The Permanent Council Chair, Ambassador Sonia Johnny of Saint Lucia, said today’s approval marks an important chapter in the organization’s history. “With these draft statutes we are about to consider, a new chapter begins—one that we hope will be characterized by fruitful interaction, coordination and cooperation with the Inter-American Defense Board,” declared Ambassador Johnny.

In reporting to the Permanent Council, Ambassador Tomic made reference to the extensive debate that produced the draft resolution and the statutes that will replace the Defense Board’s regulations. “From the very beginning, in 1942, incorporating the IADB into the OAS has always been an objective,” Tomic told the ambassadors. He then explained some of the issues that over the years had hindered that incorporation, including Cold War-based distrust among states.

The report that Tomic submitted to the Permanent Council underscored that conclusion of the debate “heralds greater transparency, confidence, and security among the nations of the Hemisphere.” He explained that the function of the Board is to provide the OAS with advice on military and defense-related matters. He said “good civilian-military relations can be a significant boost to good governance in each country and can help bring about an atmosphere of peace, progress and respect for human rights throughout the Americas.”

The Defense Board’s Chairman, Major General Keith M. Huber, attended today’s Permanent Council session that considered his Board’s relationship with the OAS.

Created in 1942 by the Third Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the American Republics, the Inter-American Defense Board was given a mandate to plan “the defense of the Hemisphere from extra-regional aggression.” The decision to formalize the IADB’s status as an agency of the OAS follows an in-depth study on the legal and institutional relationship between the two.

Reference: E-045/06