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OAS Secretary General calls for cooperation to combat insecurity in the Americas

  June 3, 2011

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today called for interstate cooperation to tackle insecurity, which is the main concern facing the citizens of the Americas. The call was made during a keynote address on citizen security in the Hemisphere that he gave to the Dr. Guillermo Manuel Ungo Foundation (FUNDAUNGO) in San Salvador, on the occasion of the 41st OAS General Assembly, which is to take place on June 5 to 7 under the theme “Citizen Security in the Americas.”

As an example of what he called “one of the leading challenges to democratic governance,” the hemispheric body’s top official said that the World Health Organization defines a disease as an epidemic when its mortality rate surpasses six deaths per one hundred thousand inhabitants; in contrast, he said, the victims of murders and violent deaths in the Americas currently total 24 or 25 people out of every hundred thousand. In addition, while only eight percent of the global population inhabits this region, it accounts for two-thirds of all the abductions in the world.

“In the OAS we have spent a great deal of time on this matter, because it is related to democracy,” the Secretary General said. “There can be no long-term democracy when our societies are threatened by these scourges.”

The leader of the hemispheric organization pointed out that surveys in most of the region’s countries show that people believe crime to be the main problem within their societies, and he underscored the fact that a large proportion of the crimes committed – trafficking in drugs and weapons, human trafficking, and intellectual piracy – have a crossborder dimension.

“Public insecurity is one of the great challenges of democratic governance,” he said, before identifying such others as inequality and fragile institutions. “This is a major problem that requires us all to cooperate. It is an issue that states are obliged to resolve, and we must work hard on it.”

Finally, he said that speaking about crime also required that reference be made to inequality and poverty: problems that have “a race and a gender” by reason of their disproportionate impact on certain sectors of the population, such as women, indigenous communities, and people of African descent. “There can be no doubt that all these topics are intertwined,” he said.

“I hope we can pay the necessary attention to cooperation among our states in this area, because the tremendous threat posed by organized crime in the Latin American region is, in my opinion, endangering the future of democracy itself,” he concluded.

The Dr. Guillermo Manuel Ungo Foundation (FUNDAUNGO) is a nonprofit nongovernmental organization, created on January 8, 1992, with the mission of “contributing to the country’s democratic development, in order to improve the quality of life of the Salvadoran people within a framework of participation and increased economic, social, and political opportunities for the population.”

For further information, visit the OAS web site at .

Reference: E-703/11