Media Center

Press Release


  October 28, 2003

MEXICO CITY – As the Special Conference on Hemispheric Security continued today, foreign affairs ministers and other high-level delegates from the 34 member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) resumed their discussion on how to tackle new threats to security and peace in the region.

The conference will conclude this afternoon with the adoption of the Declaration on Security in the Americas, a wide-ranging document that affirms shared values and outlines commitments and measures for cooperative action. Mexican President Vicente Fox will speak at the closing ceremony.

In opening the hemispheric meeting yesterday, OAS Secretary General César Gaviria described the Declaration on Security as underscoring “our nations’ deep-seated interest in maintaining peace and security through cooperation and collective action, and the enormous work that must be done to ensure peace.”

Gaviria expressed his conviction that a peaceful hemisphere is possible and said, “We all need each other—powerful and not so powerful countries alike.” Gaviria warned about the potential negative consequences of the “breakdown in governance in a number of our countries” and referred to different types of crises in the region: economic, as in the case of Argentina; political, such as in Venezuela; military and terrorism problems, such as in Colombia; and social crises, as in Bolivia. Such crises “could have enormous, far-reaching repercussions,” he said.

Gaviria stressed the need to continue working on a common security agenda to address the values and problems of the countries of the region, saying such an agenda “should be based on consensus as well as on open and frank democratic dialogue.”

In his remarks, Mexico’s Secretary of Foreign Affairs Luis Ernesto Derbez spoke about threats to security in a globalized world, where terrorism, organized crime, drug trafficking and other crimes transcend national borders. “Mexico believes that the inter-American system—and the OAS in particular—has the tools needed to promote regional cooperation to more effectively combat new threats to security,” he said. “Those mechanisms need strengthening, with all of us actively participating,” he added.

The hemispheric meeting has drawn participation from nearly thirty government ministers, including foreign affairs and defense ministers. Before the formal opening of the conference, member state delegates met with representatives of several civil society organizations, to share ideas and views on the issue of hemispheric security in the Americas.

Reference: E-212/03