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OAS and IDB Conclude Regional Workshop on Cyber Security

  October 25, 2014

The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) today concluded a “Regional Workshop on Cyber Security Policies” that took place in Washington, DC from October 22-24, and brought together officials from 28 OAS member states as well as experts from Europe and the Asia Pacific region to discuss priorities and a regional cyber security agenda for the Americas.

The workshop aimed to promote and exchange lessons learned, best practices, challenges, commonalities, and the different approaches countries and sectors have used in the development and implementation of national cyber security policies and strategies, as well as fostering a global dialogue and multi-sectoral partnerships, with attendees from government, the private sector, civil society and academic stakeholders.

The Assistant Secretary General of the OAS, Albert Ramdin, highlighted that “member states are ever-more familiar with cyber security threats. Many of the cyber gains achieved in the Americas are due to the work of the OAS Cyber Security Program, evidenced by the regional and global recognition of its capacity building model and initiatives.”

“Nevertheless,” he said, “this awareness hasn’t stopped cyber vulnerabilities from continuing to affect a wide range of targets in the region.” He went on to mention that cyber-attacks have threatened to derail electoral voting processes in several OAS member states, putting into peril democratic institutions that underpin their political systems. “Cyber-attacks have affected or will affect all countries at some point in time, regardless of size, politics, or economy,” said Ambassador Ramdin. Highlighting the importance of the event, he added, “Along with the support of the IDB, we can plot the technical and political course the OAS will need to ensure that member states have at their disposal the best cyber security training assistance available.”

On behalf of the Government of Canada, the main contributor to the OAS Cyber Security Program, Robert Gordon, the Special Cyber Security Advisor in Public Safety Canada, highlighted the continued financial investments of the Canadian Government on Cyber Security in the hemisphere through the OAS. Mentioning that the OAS had developed a successful model for regional integration and cyber capacity building, he also lauded the efforts of member state governments to draft and adopt national cyber security strategies, like Canada did in 2011.

As part of their cooperation on the issue, the OAS and the IDB have committed to prepare a report titled “The State of Cybersecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean.” During the workshop, the OAS sought feedback from member state officials and other experts in an effort to ensure the study would present a comprehensive analysis of the state of cyber security in Latin America and the Caribbean, and how countries are prepared to protect their critical infrastructure against cyber threats.

The first day and a half of the event consisted of panel discussions and aimed to provide a baseline understanding to all participants. While all attendees were senior officials involved in cyber security policymaking, they brought to bear different specializations and work experience: some had focused more on regulatory issues, while others were technologists or more involved in the law enforcement side of cyber security development. Still others approached the issue from an academic or political perspective. Ensuring that all attendees could address the issues from a point of common understanding was important considering that on the last half day of the event, the plenary session broke out into a series of moderated working group discussions.

In the working group discussions, participants were tasked with defining some of the critical cyber policy and development needs to be addressed in the Americas. The groups were moderated by officials with technical, legislative, and policy backgrounds. This was done in an effort to maximize the perspectives contributed by those facilitating the discussions. Similarly, the groups included a mix of officials from North, Central, and South America as well as a range of levels of cyber security development, thus fostering a dynamic environment with a multitude of experiences, histories, and current realities.

Of the working group sessions and proposed outcomes of the event, the OAS Secretary of Multidimensional Security, Adam Blackwell highlighted the commitment of the OAS to foster work with all stakeholders from the public and private sectors and civil society. “Starting with the 2004 Comprehensive Inter-American Cyber Security Strategy, we have built an environment that incorporates all the actors in the cyber security ecosystem, which is as diverse as it is large,” said Ambassador Blackwell.

On the afternoon of October 24, Argentinean NGO USUARIA hosted the second annual information security fair, SEGURINFO, D.C. at the OAS Hall of the Americas. The event, which was open to the public, showcased different takes on emerging cyber security threats and trends, and also included a ceremony in which Dominica officially became a signatory of the STOP.THINK.CONNECT cyber security awareness raising messaging campaign. The event welcomed more than 200 participants from governments, the private sector, civil society and think tanks in Washington, DC and around the world.

Cyber security threats continue to grow unabated and continue to adapt to governments’ attempts to confront them. This has necessitated that the OAS react to and anticipate new threats to member states, which it has been doing since 2004. OAS programming is delivered according to the needs and preferred approaches of member states which vary based on political, economic, and social realities.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-462/14