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OAS Secretary General Calls for Coordinated Response to Organized Crime

  May 4, 2012

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Jose Miguel Insulza, referred to organized crime as “the main challenge to security in our hemisphere,” and called on governments in the region to coordinate their responses to the threat, in a speech to young Latin Americans studying in the United States at the Forum “Vanguardia Latina 2012” in Washington, DC.

The chief representative of the hemispheric organization recalled that, according to polling data, insecurity is the main concern of the citizens of the Americas, and that organized crime, beyond the direct human cost, represents a threat to democracy. For that reason, in additional to national efforts, the response to the threat must also be regional. “One of the great problems of our strategies against transnational crime,” explained Secretary General Insulza, “is that they are not transnational enough. Criminals cross borders much more easily than we do.”

In his address, Insulza delivered a report on the main activities of the OAS, as the institution that brings together all the countries in the hemisphere, and pointed out that the organization has a record of carrying out coordinated action on this issue. He commented that the central theme of the OAS General Assembly in El Salvador in 2011 was “Citizen Security in the Americas,” and recently the Permanent Council approved an Action Plan against organized crime, that moves forward on the commitments made in the Declaration of San Salvador. In addition, the Secretary General pointed out, the OAS is the repository for various hemispheric agreements that deal directly with security, such as the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms or the Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisitions (CITAAC).

As far as the most recent actions, Insulza added that at the Sixth Summit of the Americas in Cartagena, Colombia, the heads of state and government of the hemisphere agreed to “the creation of a Center for Coordination against Transnational Organized Crime,” a proposal from Mexico that will seek to harmonize the strategies and actions of the Member States against international criminal groups. Improving coordination in the fight against organized crime, said the Secretary General, “is something that we are working on and that, as an organization, we are going to develop further in the coming months together with other organizations.”

The chief representative of the OAS highlighted the connection between insecurity and drug trafficking, an issue on which the Summit has charged the OAS with carrying out a study on the effectiveness of the different strategies in the hemisphere and in other parts of the world. Secretary General Insulza specified that the mandate for the organization “is not to propose a different strategy, but to deliver to the governments of the region a study of the possible scenarios and different strategies, of different alternative policies.”

Speaking to an auditorium largely filled with students, Secretary Insulza emphasized the need for governments to protect young people from exposure to criminality, which he called an “immense challenge.” “The possibility of saving these young people from the world of criminality depends upon giving them access to education and, in general, on the opportunities we can give them while they are still young,” he added.

The “Vanguardia Latina 2012” Forum, organized by the Mexican NGO “Espacio de Vinculacion, Asociacion Civil (EVAC) brought together more than 150 young Latin American students this week at the headquarters of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), in order to exchange perspectives on the future of Latin America with business leaders, diplomats, government figures and representatives of NGOs from around the region.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

A video of the event is availeable here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-159/12