Media Center

Press Release


  March 16, 2006

The Inter-American Defense Board (IADB) is now officially an agency of the Organization of American States OAS, after the 34 member countries adopted the Board’s statutes during the 22nd special session of the OAS General Assembly.

Under the statutes, the Board’s central role is to provide advice to the OAS on military and defense matters. The Board is also intended to ensure good civilian-military relations that can help strengthen governance in each country and create an atmosphere of peace, progress, and respect for human rights throughout the Americas.

The statutes state that the IADB “embodies in its structure and its operations the principles of civilian oversight and the subordination of military institutions to civilian authority,” in keeping with the the Inter-American Democratic Charter, as well as the principle of democratic formation of its authorities, to ensure consistency with the democratic values of its member states and their participation on an equal basis.

Ambassador Esteban Tomic of Chile, who was unanimously elected to chair Wednesday’s special General Assembly session, gave an in-depth historical analysis of the background and work on the statutes that will now guide the IADB and the Inter-American Defense College. He noted that with the debate now concluded, greater transparency, confidence, and security will be fostered in the countries of the hemisphere.

“With globalization a reality, nations cannot address their challenges in isolation,” Tomic said, adding that, much to the contrary, they must unite efforts both domestically and externally. At the external level, they must use international organizations to defend their interests and cooperate to address many issues that in a globalized world could be viewed as threats or opportunities, depending on how prepared countries are to face them. Tomic remarked that at the domestic level, the new normative could generate conditions for the best response by a country, as a whole, to challenges arising in the global environment.

The Chilean diplomat argued that now that the hemisphere has left behind the era in which its armed forces operated on the philosophy of conflicts with neighbors, the armed forces now have a very important role in a country’s democratic governance. Their expertise and modus operandi, when put at the disposal of civilian authorities, can be a boon to a nation’s capacity to respond to external threats posed by globalization, he explained.

Congratulating Ambassador Tomic on his important role in steering the debate that culminated in the IADB becoming an agency of the premier hemispheric body, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza observed that Tomic had “brought unanimous and complete settlement to a longstanding matter, without controversy.”

Insulza said the operations of the IADB will depend on the OAS Permanent Council, and its functions are strictly limited to defense issues without any consideration of other aspects of multidimensional security. “This is a significant point that must be made clear,” he said.

“Today is a historic moment for the OAS and for the inter-American system ,” the Secretary General continued, lauding the members of the Permanent Council as well as the Committee on Hemispheric Security who worked “with so much enthusiasm to reach this agreement.” He also thanked the IADB members and all the countries for their support and contribution to “this important achievement that we have attained today.”

The IADB statutes stem from OAS General Assembly Resolution 1848, adopted in 2002, which instructed the Permanent Council to “examine the relationship between the OAS and the IADB and make recommendations to the General Assembly and the IADB for modifying the IADB’s structure and basic instruments to the extent necessary to clarify and obtain consensus on its status with respect to the OAS, including the principle of civilian oversight and the democratic formation of its authorities.”

Member state delegations expressed unanimous support for the adoption of the statutes defining the new functions of the Defense Board, which is chaired by Major General Keith M. Huber. They also lauded Ambassador Tomic’s skill and ongoing effort, acknowledging as well the contribution of the Committee on Hemispheric Security to the establishment of a new relationship between the OAS and the Inter-American Defense Board as a way of advancing the consolidation of peace and security in the Americas.

Reference: E-060/06