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OAS Secretary General Highlights the Role of the Armed Forces "as a Complement the States’ Activities in Inter-American Relations"

  June 20, 2013

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, highlighted today in the graduation ceremony of the 2013 class of the Inter-American Defense College (IADC) that contemporary armed forces are called upon to serve as a "direct complement to states’ activity in the field of international, global and Inter-American relations," and recalled that" this course and this college, which brings together military officers and civilians from all the countries of the Americas, is a vibrant example of that."

Congratulating the 56 graduates, Secretary General Insulza stressed the "constant effort of teaching and academic renewal" that has characterized the institution, and added that the annual graduation ceremony "marks the organic ties that bind us to the IADC and the Inter-American Defense Board, ties that were reinforced when our leaders agreed to make the Inter-American Defense Board an entity directly dependent on this Organization, to foster relationships between our armed forces, work in the training of officers and diplomats and to be the technical resource of the OAS in developing confidence-building and security measures, maintaining a proper balance between military spending in our nations and the provision of services."

In his speech, the Secretary General discussed the challenges of a increasingly globalized reality. "Humanity has attained new goals in communication, life expectancy, wealth, education, scientific and technical development and the advancement of freedom and democracy," he said, and recognized the singularities that have brought the Americas to a "very favorable moment." "The results of the decade of the 2000s were better than those of the previous two decades, and helped reduce poverty significantly," he said.

At the same time, he referred to the statistics of poverty reduction of recent decades and said that although these achievements are still insufficient, "they had the effect of generating a new optimism and drive in the hope that, this time, the period of growth will be longer than in previous occasions, for the benefit of our peoples."

Secretary General Insulza emphasized the democratic achievements of the OAS Member Countries that live "in a new climate of democracy, in which its preservation and strengthening is the core task of our Organization." Democracy and good governance, he said, are a prerequisite for peace, security and development, and "the tasks of providing defense and security acquire their true meaning when linked to the right of each of our citizens to enjoy in peace and freedom the fruits of joint development efforts and the benefits provided by democracy," he said. The Americas "is a Hemisphere of peace, in which the risks of conflict between our nations are dwindling," he said.

The leader of the hemispheric institution mentioned the legacy and relevance of the Inter-American College, an institution that "offers a valuable range of knowledge, enriched by a constant intellectual exchange that has been maintained throughout its history," and in that sense he considered that "it can greatly contribute to the debate on strengthening the Inter-American Defense System." The College "has an essential role in its ability to research and reflect on matters of hemispheric defense, to answer questions on how to modernize and make even more effective the existing hemispheric structure," he added.

The OAS leader also referred to the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration on Security in the Americas, adopted at the Special Conference on Security, held in Mexico City in 2003, which introduced into the concept of security the need for a multidimensional approach considering both traditional and new threats. "The challenge we have in the Inter-American system is to define how to respond effectively to these risks and threats in an increasingly complex world, that are difficult to confront in isolation," he said, adding that today more than ever it is necessary to maintain multilateral cooperation with an integrated vision and mutual support.

"Due to the multitude of issues involved in hemispheric security, it is essential to encourage the strengthening of cooperation between our countries in the area of security, and the OAS has a key role to play in this." Therefore, he continued, it is the time for the establishment of a new structure for the management of military and defense issues in the Inter-American system.”

The school graduated today 56 students, including military officers, national police and civilian officials from 15 countries who participated in a 11-month program of study that included graduate-level classes on international governmental systems, the international political environment, the operation of the Inter-American system, and challenges to regional security. The graduation ceremony took place at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-246/13