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OAS Secretary of Multidimensional Security Addresses Transnational Crime

  March 30, 2012

The Secretary of Multidimensional Security of the Organization of American States (OAS), Adam Blackwell, spoke today in Washington DC on the subject of “Combating Transnational Criminal Organizations in the Americas”. In order to fight these groups, the Secretary for Multidimensional Security said the OAS is focused on “smart security”, starting with “a voluntary process of doing systematic and systemic evaluations in the security sector in various countries”.

At the public event hosted by the Heritage Foundation, Ambassador Blackwell noted that “public policy must be based on analysis, not perception,” and to that end, the evaluation process will “identify weaknesses and priorities, establish benchmarks to measure progress, and identify the relationship between actors”. The goal, he said, was the establishment of “sustainable professional rule of law systems”.

The OAS official also highlighted efforts to learn from successful institutions: “The Ministers of Public Security of the Americas, at their last meeting in Trinidad and Tobago, have committed to improving the conditions of law enforcement authorities. We’re hoping to try and document successful practices; how the pay and support structures of law enforcement institutions work in those countries that are successful, and see how we can transfer this further down the line.”

On the financial side of the fight against organized crime, Ambassador Blackwell said “it’s relatively simple; we have to make sure that crime doesn’t pay,” by attacking the finances of criminal groups. To that end, he said programs that return some resources confiscated from criminals to security institutions can help improve conditions for law enforcement organizations and provide them with incentive to act.

Also participating in the event were Vanda Felbab-Brown, Fellow in Public Policy at the Brookings Institution; Celina Realuyo, Assistant Professor at the National Defense University; and Brian Nichols of the U.S. State Department. Vanda Felbab-Brown said that one of the lessons that can be learned from Latin America is that a successful anti-crime strategy should aim to strengthen the state, not just break up criminal organizations. Celina Realuyo emphasized the need for governments to be flexible and quick to adapt to new circumstances in their responses to globalized criminal organizations. For his part, Brian Nichols talked about the challenges posed by organizations whose structure has changed dramatically in recent decades, from traditional hierarchies to loose and rebellious affiliations

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-112/12