Media Center

Press Release


  March 16, 2007


The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today stressed the importance of international cooperation and coordination among countries to confront the scourge of drug trafficking, poverty and the challenges to security, which hinder and damage progress in the hemisphere. Insulza was speaking at the Regional Summit on Drugs, Security and Cooperation taking place in the Dominican Republic. Participants include the Presidents of Colombia and Haiti, Alvaro Uribe and René Préval, as well as the Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Patrick Manning, who is representing the Caribbean Community (CARICOM).

President Uribe, in his address to the summit, asked Secretary General Insulza to take the lead in coordinating anti-drug efforts by the countries of the region, through the creation of an instrument along the lines of the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (Palermo Convention).

The Santo Domingo meeting, which was opened by the President of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández, is the first of its kind that brings together Heads of State from the region to discuss the growing phenomenon of drug trafficking and the security problems it produces. During the meeting, whose participants also include international organizations from Europe and the Americas, leaders and key invited guests such as the OAS Secretary General agreed on the need to adopt urgent measures and develop guidelines to tackle these issues in a coordinated, cooperative way, in order to support the most vulnerable countries of the region.

After noting the positive trends in economic growth and the strengthening of democracy, Insulza said the region must confront the problems of the times prudently, adding that “there are situations that could challenge and even threaten economic prosperity and democratic stability; and among those challenges, unfortunately, is the threat to security.”

The Secretary General said the OAS “has understood that a collective and coordinated effort is needed to advance boldly to overcome these threats; thus, our efforts to generate initiatives and preventive instruments for the hemisphere as a whole, with special attention to the most vulnerable countries.” Referring to drug trafficking specifically, he said that “when the drug problem is exacerbated, either by its sheer scope or by the change of patterns that make it more difficult to control, it is essential that the international community act in coordination to control its harmful impact.”

Insulza referred to the situation in Haiti and the Dominican Republic, countries that are along drug trafficking routes and suffer the social consequences of this crime. “We are conscious of the magnitude of the problem,” he said, adding that “we are aware that air and sea drug shipments are unloaded in this part of the world; we know that the routes that are used originate in Colombia and more recently in Venezuela and other countries of the Caribbean; and we are aware that not only the United States is the final destination of this traffic, but that as much as 50 percent of the drug trade that transits the island goes to Europe.”

In terms of multidimensional security, Insulza said, “our region is one of the most punished in this sphere,” noting that it includes vast sectors that are extremely vulnerable. Their insecurity has to do with the fact that they do not have the capacity to confront drug trafficking, urban delinquency, gangs, transnational organized crime, as well as natural disasters and pandemics, Insulza said, adding that all this adds up to a situation that is new and challenging.

Insulza promised technical support from the OAS and the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) in areas such as providing legal assistance, training personnel and equipping units. But he warned that the success of any initiative will require greater efforts by the countries attending the meeting in at least three areas: intelligence cooperation to detect drug routes; cooperation on interdiction; and cooperation in supplying resources to launch anti-drug programs in the countries of the region.

“We face a rich, modern and powerful transnational adversary; controlling and defeating it is not a task for small countries that have had the misfortune of being used as transit places. The larger markets, where the drugs are headed with their destructive action, should also provide greater support,” Insulza said.

The OAS Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Albert R. Ramdin, also participated in the Santo Domingo meeting.

Reference: E-080/07