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Closing of Meeting of the OAS Permanent Council on Declaration on Security in the Americas Highlights its Validity

  October 28, 2013

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today closed its special meeting to commemorate the tenth anniversary of the Declaration on Security in the Americas, noting that the document is " as relevant today as it was ten years ago," according to the Permanent Representative of Guyana, Bayney Karran, who chaired the closing.

“In this hemisphere, we have seen the devastating impact of transnational organized crime, firsthand; we have seen the rise in gun violence, drug addiction and distorting effects on the social values that are the foundations of our way of life, said Ambassador Karran in his closing address to the event in which Permanent Representatives, senior officials of the Organization, and special guests highlighted the virtues of the document that changed the concept of security in the region.

The diplomat from Guyana said "there is no doubt that threats require multidimensional, multidisciplinary and innovative responses," adding that it seems that the consensus here today is that holistic integrated approach to security and crime prevention must go beyond traditional frameworks, and therefore needs to include development objectives, good governance and the rule of law as necessary elements of a successful strategy. There also seems to be consensus that, with its insistence on the importance of addressing extreme poverty, inequality, and social exclusion, the Declaration on Security in the Americas is as relevant today as it was ten years ago,” said Karran.

The Under Secretary of Mexico for Latin America and the Caribbean, Vanessa Rubio, who was present at the event on behalf of the country that hosted the 2003 Declaration, said that the participants comments during the session revealed that "we are all convinced of this great magnitude of approaches and issues that are today included in security, and from which we must address this phenomenon so complex and relevant to our countries."

Under Secretary Rubio stressed the need to "put the individual at the center of the issue in order to take various policy measures and cooperation activities in the area." "If we do not start with the individual, with humanity, of the need to provide the people with peace, tranquility and an environment in which to develop, I think all our efforts will have been with out purpose," added the Mexican authority.

Emilio Rabasa, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the OAS, noted that the event “provided a suitable space to highlight and address the link between security and social development where the exchange of ideas, experiences, approaches and proposals of the participants enriched the debate and led to the following conclusions."

The Mexican Ambassador summarized the conclusions of the event, which highlighted the need to strengthen hemispheric cooperation to define security strategies that take into account the link between social development and security; that the development or strengthening of such strategies should favor the multidimensional approach to security; that the security of states is strengthened when it deepens its human dimension; that states should strengthen coordination mechanisms and institutional actions to fight extreme poverty, inequality and social exclusion; the need to recognize individual challenges facing each state and subregion; the need to consider the importance of equal opportunities for men and women; to recognize that security is a public good the responsibility for which lies with the states, but in its delivery must involve all sectors of society; to strengthen institutional coordination within the Inter-American system to improve the capacity of states; and that a future agenda means fighting not only poverty, but also injustice.

The Human Dimension of Security

The second session following the morning session began with a panel on "the human dimension of security from a social perspective." The Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), Carmen Moreno, recalled that the 2003 Declaration included the promotion of the security of women, their inclusion in peace and security efforts, their participation in decision making and the inclusion of a gender perspective in all programs and activities of multidimensional security. "In the last ten years, some countries in the region have been incorporating women in the security sector, including them at high levels. Similarly, the integration of a gender perspective in the public security framework has begun, "said Ambassador Moreno . However, the Mexican diplomat warned that "there is still much to do."

Ambassador Moreno said that to comply with the contents of the Declaration on Security in the Americas, the governments of the region must make a series of reforms, including mention of the judiciary and the security and defense sectors, and to harmonize national laws with international agreements. The Secretary of the CIM argued that participatory processes should include women at all levels of evaluation, making and monitoring, and "above all, the elimination of violence against them."

The Executive Secretary for Integral Development of the OAS, Sherry Tross, emphasized the pioneering nature of the 2003 Declaration "in emphasizing the relationship between security and development, or the human dimension of security," an area in which marked the way the debate at the United Nations .

Noting that many studies agree in emphasizing the ties between violence and insecurity on the one hand, and underdevelopment and poverty on the other, Secretary Tross said that when countries have a high rate of youth unemployment and a growing perception of inequality and injustice, they often have high rates of crime and violence. "Security matters for development, and development for security matters," said the OAS official , who added that the concept of multidimensional security simultaneously addresses some commands for development, as "cooperation and partnership, sustainability, economic and environmental security, social inclusion, providing opportunities for underserved and vulnerable groups, and maintaining the individual at the center."

The Chief of Staff of the Ministry of Social Development of Mexico, Enrique González, said the goal of the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto "is to take Mexico to its full potential based on five ideas: A Mexico at peace; an inclusive Mexico in terms of social and economic development; a Mexico with education; a prosperous Mexico; and a Mexico with global responsibility.”

The Mexican official said his government has a multidimensional approach to take care of the most vulnerable people of the country, and its primary focus is to confer rights on this sector of society. In explaining this policy and relating it to multidimensional security, Gonzalez said that policies to address social issues "include an economic component and a baseline of public security." As an example, the senior official presented a graphic about Cuernavaca, in the state of Morelos, whose security indices improved after implementation of community inclusion policies.

For his part, the Permanent Representative of Haiti to the OAS, Duly Brutus, who spoke on behalf of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), stressed that the initiatives contained in the Declaration on Security have been implemented in some countries in the region, which has strengthened mechanisms of cooperation and action against extreme poverty, lawlessness and social exclusion. However, Ambassador Brutus said that much remains to be done to tackle the major challenges of security in the Hemisphere.

The Haitian diplomat identified the major threats to the security of the region, citing among other factors, environmental degradation, the drug problem, corruption, money laundering, smuggling of weapons and people, cyber crime, terrorism and transnational organized crime. "It is for this reason that we must continue to support the commitments we made in the Declaration on Security in the Americas, as well as take steps to ensure that a multidimensional and holistic policy is implemented in terms of hemispheric security," he said. He noted the need to define an approach that fits the reality of the Caribbean islands. "The Caribbean countries will not leave underdevelopment behind and experience security and sustainable stability without significant support from the other major countries of the region," said the diplomat.

Future Security Agenda

The session concluded with a panel on "the future security agenda," which analyzed the evolution of the concept of security, trends in access to information, the importance of open information and specific examples of initiatives to promote the level of citizen security. In this context, the Governor of the Colombian department of Antioquia, Sergio Fajardo, spoke of the importance of providing real opportunities for recognition and dignity for all citizens. "The community needs to see and feel, and it is there that dignity is expressed, and that dignity is very powerful in the transformation. When a community feels recognized for their dignity, it responds, it is transformed," said Governor Fajardo.

Referring to the way citizens see the opportunities of incurring violence and lawlessness, Governor figuratively explained the existence of "a door to illegality" which is presented as an option, so to be fought it must be supplemented with "other doors and entrances that provide opportunities for healing and hope." "Knowing how to understand in which part of the door we stand is crucial to the problems we face," he said. He also presented the example of how insecurity has been addressed in the city of Medellin, where he served as Mayor, with a focus on tackling inequality and relieving areas such as judicial investigation with policies of prevention and legality.

The Secretary for Legal Affairs of the OAS, Jean Michel Arrighi, spoke about the history and past of the notion of security in the Hemisphere, showing the evolution of the concepts of safety and security in the field of the Inter-American system up to the consolidation of the Declaration on Security in the Americas in October 2003. In particular, Arrighi emphasized the importance of September 11, 2001, the Inter-American Democratic Charter was signed in Lima, Peru, the same day when the terrorist attacks occurred against the United States. The first event, he said, meant "the consolidation of the notion of democracy as the only system of government in the region and linking the notion of democracy with other values." The second, he said, brought together "the strengthening of the notion of democracy with Inter-American cooperation in fighting terrorism."

When talking about the future of the Declaration on Security, Secretary Arrighi said that the document "has many elements that are consolidated in regional treaties and mechanisms" and that the Inter-American system should be able to address them, in a framework of international and intra-institutional cooperation. "Many aspects of this Declaration should serve as the central hub for comprehensive cooperation between institutions that deal with issues of human rights, women's health, childhood, agriculture, and justice, among many others," he added.

John Wilbanks, expert on access to information and health at the Consent to Research company, spoke about the health data collection for the advancement of research. "Increased transparency of data related to human sciences has the potential to increase the ability of people to participate, and offers policy makers the possibility to adopt science-based decisions which have an implication on security," said Wilbanks.

Finally, the Permanent Representative of Uruguay, Ambassador Milton Romani, presented the basis of a future agenda for public security and social development, stating that it " should strive to promote, incorporate and guarantee from a rights perspective, the dynamic link between security and social development," and that it must be "anchored in human development in terms of social and cultural inclusion" and embrace the rights inherent to human security in a comprehensive manner.

Ambassador Romani said the future security agenda should prioritize combating corruption "as a way to restore confidence in institutions," address gun control, "which is another must for peace," and the prevention of crime "in a diversified manner, according to the country, areas and types of insecurity linked to the variety of crime or the violence against people and adjusted in coordination and active participation of the community.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video of the event is available here.

The audio of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-404/13