Media Center

Press Release


  March 28, 2007

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today praised the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB) for supporting the commitment to extend and consolidate democracy, strengthen security and achieve higher levels of economic and social development for the countries of the Americas. He was speaking at an event to commemorate the Defense Board’s 65th anniversary and the first year since the adoption of statutes that fully integrated the IADB into the OAS at an operational level.

Referring to the OAS agency’s role in meeting the challenges of Latin America and the Caribbean, the Secretary General highlighted the importance of the work carried out in Haiti by the armed forces of nine OAS and IADB member countries. “Maintaining peace, which our soldiers do under the United Nations flag, demonstrates the resolve of our democratic governments to fully assume their regional responsibilities,” Insulza said at the event, which was held at IADB headquarters—the House of the Soldier—in Washington. The President of that organization, General Jorge Armando de Almeida Ribeiro, and representatives of member countries also participated in the meeting.

Insulza argued that there is a clear distinction between defense and public security, which are different duties of the state that should be carried out professionally, with separate training and responsibilities. “We need to be prudent and not confuse the duties of the armed forces with those that belong to the police or civilian authorities,” warned the Secretary General.

He added, however, that due to the nature of some of today’s security threats, including drug trafficking and organized crime, security tasks in some cases can be complemented by those of the armed forces. “The OAS is currently coordinating a collective effort to cooperate in facing the new threats to hemispheric security,” Insulza said, adding that the OAS is developing initiatives to strengthen mechanisms to confront such challenges, especially in the most vulnerable countries.

The Secretary General underscored the growing presence of the armed forces in peace operations in different parts of the world and noted their contributions not only in strengthening the foreign policies of the countries of the hemisphere, but also in helping to educate members of the military to be conscious of the responsibility they have to help preserve peace.

In this regard, Insulza referred to the recent commemoration of the 40th anniversary of the Tlatelolco Treaty, which bans nuclear arms in the Latin American and the Caribbean region. “That treaty has endured the test of time and resisted the many temptations that exist in some parts of the world. The concept of nuclear- free zones has expanded throughout the world thanks to the Tlatelolco Treaty, and that is a contribution to peace of which we can also be proud,” the OAS Secretary General said.

Insulza added that the environment of military cooperation that exists today in the hemisphere should be constantly strengthened, through increased mutual-confidence measures and complete transparency in the acquisition of new weapons. He also underscored the need for countries to exchange information on defense policies, hold joint military exercises and coordinate participation in peace operations.

The Secretary General highlighted the technical support of the Inter-American Defense Board on issues related to the OAS agenda, such as the expansion of demining operations and an inter-American program that seeks to develop mutual confidence-building measures among the member states related to their defense policies, control of military expenditures and coordination of peace missions.

Reference: E-088/07