Media Center

Press Release


  October 7, 2008

Mexico City—Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary General José Miguel Insulza today inaugurated the First Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas, an OAS forum convened to consider joint strategies to tackle the scourge of crime and violence worldwide, and particularly in this hemisphere.

Addressing top security officials from the 34
Member States, the Mexican leader praised the OAS’ initiative to bring the security ministers together to share experiences and devise a joint approach to transnational crime. He called on countries to collaborate to fight transnational crime on the basis of a collaborative approach, shared responsibility and respect for sovereignty.

Secretary General Insulza, for his part, suggested that amidst the differences among the countries of the Americas, “all, without exception, are suffering or are beginning to suffer the consequences of this scourge”—a reference to violence stemming from organized crime. “This plague,” he said, “kills more people than AIDS or any other known epidemic; destroys more homes than any economic crisis; and threatens state institutions. It is as dangerous as any other subversion element we have seen.” He added: “Ridding ourselves of it, or at least substantially reducing it, is an absolute priority.”

He described crime and violence as “a problem that threatens the security, health, physical safety and lives of hundreds of thousands of our fellow citizens,” saying it furthermore directly affects the very foundations of our region’s economic and political development. He stressed that “the very integrity of the state and democratic institutions in our region are seriously at risk given the scope, power and impact of crime.” Insulza added that most violence against individuals is related to drug consumption and trafficking.

Insulza said that acknowledging the problem is the first step towards a solution, the second being admitting that despite all efforts, a solution remains elusive. “Serious challenges remain and we still have a long way to go before we can begin to feel satisfied,” he argued, identifying as a great challenge the lack of technical capacity to manage the problem. He also cited the significant constraints and lack of capacity at the institutional level.

Secretary General Insulza warned that although there are public security instruments in the inter-American system to deal with transnational threats and several hemispheric mechanisms for coordination, “they are not mechanisms for comprehensive policy discussion on public security which we have an obligation to develop and coordinate today.

According to Insulza, “our pressing needs call for a standing mechanism for hemispheric discussion and agreement to help us get to the root of the problem and find consensus around coordinated action to confront it.”

He said that this first OAS meeting of senior security officials from around the Americas “challenges us to deal with a common threat through solidarity and cooperation. “That, ultimately, is the deepest significance of the First Meeting of Ministers of Public Security of the Americas,” he stated.

The OAS Secretary General said this meeting should be held regularly and become the technical and policy forum for the hemisphere on all matters related to public security, and should involve coordination of effort in information, communication, technology and other areas necessary for the for the collective fight against crime in the region to succeed.

Reference: E-382/08