Media Center

Press Release

OAS Secretary General Inaugurated the Annual meeting of the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE), Dedicated to Cyber-Security

  March 7, 2012

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, inaugurated today the twelfth annual meeting of the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE), to discuss and adopt a declaration on "Strengthening Cyber ​​Security in the Americas."

The Secretary General stressed the power of rapid technological advances to provide new and valuable services to citizens, but noted that it also offers criminals new ways to attack. In this sense, he warned that "Cybercrime incidents can adopt a multitude of forms and lead to the gravest consequences," also mentioning their connection with a variety of illegal activities, from arms trafficking and drugs to terrorism itself.

The head of the OAS warned that "our ability to respond to these threats still suffers from weaknesses," and stated that it is necessary to work to raise public awareness, promote policy making, and further training for staff directly responsible for combating it.

Regarding the role of the OAS and the CICTE, Secretary General Insulza highlighted the "development of a modern view of cooperation between the public and private sectors, with the latter owning and operating most of the information structure on which our countries depend."

In addition, the Secretary General put forth the objectives of CICTE for next year: "Support those Member States that have not yet set up their National Computer Security Incident Response Teams (CSIRTs), improving the technical capacities of the personnel at existing national CSIRTs, Promoting the development of national frameworks or strategies for cyber security, and increasing and consolidating the existing regional and international cooperation, together with private sector cooperation, on topics related to cyber security and, most particularly, to the protection of critical information infrastructure."

On behalf of Grenada, the outgoing Chairman of the CICTE, the country’s Permanent Representative to the OAS, Ambassador Gillian Bristol, emphasized the need for international collaboration and cooperation to effectively combat "cyber terrorism".

"The question is no longer whether our system will get attacked, but rather when," said Ambassador Bristol. In this perspective, she said "we must be prepared" and noted that, "responding to cyber threats does not require one government, agency or department, but cooperation and communication between entities domestically and internationally, and both in the public and private sectors, and at home, and in schools, and in centers of recreation."

The representative of Grenada also said that "We must therefore unite in our assessment of risk and vulnerability in order to determine the potential impact of an attack on critical infrastructure, and ensure that such infrastructure is properly protected." and remarked that, "The theme of the 12th regular session encompasses priorities, action and collaboration necessary to face this terrorist threat at the national and hemispheric levels."

The inaugural ceremony of the Twelfth Regular Session of CICTE featured a special presentation from Jamie Saunders, Director of International Cyber ​​Policy at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom. The British diplomat focused his speech on highlighting the need for collaboration between public and private sectors in order to combat cyber terrorism, and explained the details of the tactics developed in his country.

Saunders placed special emphasis on noting that the point at which his government began their fight to combat the terrorist threat on the Internet was, "a clear recognition of the enormous benefits in economic and social terms that we are all seeing from the rapid development of a globally networked world." He maintained that unfortunately sometimes, “the many meetings of this kind, by quite understandably focusing on threats and risks, tend to create a negative view of cyberspace."

The CICTE was created in 1999 with the goal of promoting national, regional, and international cooperation in order to prevent, combat, and eradicate terrorism in the Americas. The twelfth annual meeting convened today in Washington, DC high-level government representatives and featured presentations from experts such as Cheri F. McGuire, Vice President of Government Affairs and Global Cyber Security Policy of Symantec Corporation; and Christopher Painter, Coordinator of Cyber Issues for the US State Department.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-080/12