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Chief of Staff of the OAS Secretary General Participated in Celebration of the Anniversary of the Inter-American Defense Board

  March 19, 2013

The Chief of Staff of the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Hugo de Zela, today participated in the celebration of the 71st Anniversary of the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB) with a call for "a comprehensive vision" to address "the risks and threats of an increasingly complex world."

Ambassador De Zela, who attended the event on behalf of the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, who traveled to Vatican City, congratulated the IADB on its anniversary, which, he said, comes at an opportune moment "to reflect upon and outline new guidelines that will keep the Defense Board current in today’s debates."

Chief of Staff De Zela said the challenges facing the hemisphere in terms of security have changed since the founding of the IADB and indicated that "the threats have never been so diverse, their scope is multidimensional and they have a direct impact on the welfare of our citizens." "Due to the many issues involved in hemispheric security, it is essential to strengthen cooperation between our countries on security and the OAS has a fundamental role to play in this process," he added.

Among the ways in which the IADB could be better utilized, Ambassador De Zela identified the need to establish a formal link between the OAS and the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas, "which we attend as guests, despite the fact that many of the issues discussed there are similar or related to those discussed in our Committee on Security." That, said the Chief of Staff, is something that needs to improve, and so, "in conjunction with the IADB, we have made known our willingness to have this Board, a technical advisory body of the OAS General Secretariat, function as the Executive Secretariat for the Meeting of Ministers of Defense."

Rounding out this idea, he said: "the challenge we have in the Inter-American system is to define how we can respond effectively to the risks and threats in an increasingly complex world, that makes them difficult to face in isolation," adding that "undoubtedly, these are the times for multilateral cooperation between a number of different actors, including the armed forces, with a comprehensive vision."

The Chair of the Committee on Hemispheric Security of the OAS and the Permanent Representative of Guyana to the organization, Bayney Karran, used the occasion to "recognize the IADB for their efforts to ensure more effective cooperation and to attain the objectives of peace, security and development in the various Member States."

Ambassador Karran said: "The fact that the IADB has endured for 71 years speaks to the contribution which it has been able to make toward the promotion of security and democracy in the hemisphere." The IADB, he continued, "plays a singular role as a multilateral mechanism involved in the consolidation of peace and security, and as one of the organs contributing to the fulfillment of the purposes and ideals of the OAS Charter."

For his part, the Chair of the Council of Delegates of the Board, Lieutenant General Guy Thibault, stressed the importance of using the full capabilities of the IADB. "We are but one tool in the toolbox of Inter-American collaboration mechanisms," said the Canadian military officer. "We are convinced of the vital importance of this unique organization," he added, "that allows for the exchange of a rich diversity of opinions and enables us to learn from the experiences of all the members of the IADB, which contributes to building and strengthening good relationships among our countries."

In his conclusion, the Chair of the Council of Delegates recalled that "the IADB serves Member States, it has a consensus based mandate approved by the OAS General Assembly, and its personnel are assigned by very our own countries and their Ministries of Defense." In these circumstances, he said, the IADB "is willing to contribute even more to meet the challenges of security in the Americas."

Created on March 30th, 1942, the Inter-American Defense Board is the oldest regional defense organization in the world. Its main purpose is to provide the OAS and its member states with technical and educational advice and consultancy services on matters related to military and defense issues in the Hemisphere in order to contribute to the fulfillment of the OAS Charter. Currently, the IADB has 27 Member States and its structure is composed by the Council of Delegates, by the Secretariat and by the Inter-American Defense College, bringing together civilian and military representatives of various American countries.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-101/13