Media Center

Press Release


  December 11, 2006

The Chairman of the Organization of American States (OAS) Committee on Hemispheric Security, Costa Rica’s Ambassador Javier Sancho-Bonilla, today reaffirmed the membership’s collective commitment to rid the Americas of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

Ambassador Sancho-Bonilla spoke at the opening of a special meeting at OAS headquarters to promote universal adherence to the United Nations Convention on the Prohibition of the Development, Production, Stockpiling and Use of Chemical Weapons and on Their Destruction. The meeting responded to a mandate the hemisphere’s foreign ministers issued at the OAS General Assembly in the Dominican Republic last June.

Experts at the gathering discussed progress by governments on sharing information related to legislative and administrative efforts to implement the treaty. The meeting also stressed bilateral and regional collaboration as vital to stem the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons; their means of delivery, such as missiles and rockets; and related materials, in keeping with UN Security Council Resolution 1540, adopted in 2004.

Resolution 1540 is part of a series of international initiatives to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and in particular, to prevent and counteract the acquisition and use of these deadly weapons by terrorists.

Peter Burian, Chairman of the UN Security Council’s 1540 Committee, underscored the need to realize that the threat is real and that the consequences of a terrorist attack using weapons of mass destruction would be enormous. “No state is safe from this danger, as non-state actors might seek to exploit the territory of any state, using it as safe haven, for instance to smuggle goods across in transit, for financing illegal activity or to broker the sale of WMD-related items in third countries,” said Burian.

Meanwhile, the Director General of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), Rogelio Pfirter, called for political will by all member states and for effective implementation of specific plans for the destruction of all the chemical weapons stockpiles. “There should be no exception to the global ban against chemical weapons. States that choose to remain outside the regime would find themselves isolated from the mainstream,” he argued.

In his remarks, Sancho-Bonilla noted OAS efforts to promote hemispheric security as a top priority. He said the Declaration on Security of the Americas—adopted by the member states at a special meeting in Mexico in 2003—facilitates the establishment of national regulations and controls for exporting materials, technology and specialized expertise that could contribute to the development, production or use of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery. At the special meeting in Mexico, the member countries reaffirmed their commitment to working together to address traditional and new security threats, concerns and challenges, based on shared hemispheric values.

Reference: E-274/06