Assistant Secretary General Speech


April 6, 2016 - Washington, DC

Minister of National Security of Trinidad and Tobago, Honorable Major General Edmund Dillon

Chairman of the Council of Delegates, Vice Admiral Gonzalo Nicolás Ríos Polastri (of Peru)

Vice-Chairman of the Council of Delegates, Major General Jaime González Avalos (of Mexico)


Special invited guests

Good morning, Buenos días

It is a pleasure for me to offer closing remarks at this Special Meeting of the Council of Delegates of the Inter-American Defense Board, the oldest regional defense organization in the world. I congratulate you on the occasion of celebrating the 74th Anniversary of the Board. This is a major accomplishment. I also extend warm greetings to the Honorable Major General Edmund Dillon, Minister of National Security of Trinidad and Tobago and I congratulate you Minister on receiving the IADB Medal. Your presence here demonstrates your country’s dedication to the work of this Board. We commend the Government of Trinidad and Tobago for taking a leading role on security issues in the hemisphere and we wish your Government all success in hosting the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas in October.

Estimados miembros de este Consejo de Delegados, esta reunión también marcó un momento especial para mí. Es la primera vez que me dirijo a dicho Consejo desde asumir mi mandato como Secretario General Adjunto de la OEA. Como algunos de ustedes conocen, mi asociación con la Junta comenzó cuando yo ejercía funciones como Representante Alterno de la Misión Permanente de Belice ante la OEA y luego como Representante Permanente. Con los años, he llegado a comprender el importante papel que juega la Junta en brindar capacitación y asesoría técnica a los Estados Miembros de la OEA en materia de defensa y de seguridad como se evidencia en los debates mantenidos hoy.

There is no doubt that maintaining peace and security remains a major challenge for countries of the Americas and the world at large. With the ending of the Cold War and the advent of a multi-polar international order, we have seen a paradigm shift in how we perceive security. We have witnessed a decline in the purely military component of security that dominated the bi-polar world of East versus West, to a more complex and varied state of international security. Globalization has given rise to new global powers and actors and upended the traditional state-to-state security threats. Security is now seen from a multi-dimensional perspective taking into consideration more socio-economic issues such as international migration, health, the environment, and gender, just to name a few. Conflicts have shifted from state-to-state to within states engendering new forms of criminal activities linked to transnational organized crime with destabilizing effects. The players involved are now often non-state actors unleashing fear and terror in our societies. This has forced our security authorities to derive new approaches to combating these challenges.

Todos somos conscientes de los efectos negativos que la delincuencia organizada transnacional ha tenido en nuestras sociedades, los cuales conducen a la inseguridad ciudadana y la inestabilidad política y económica. Mañana abordaré este mismo tema durante una reunión de la Comisión de Seguridad Hemisférica de la OEA convocada para analizar las Preocupaciones Especiales de Seguridad de los Pequeños Estados Insulares del Caribe. El Honorable Ministro Dillon también nos acompañará en esta reunión. Espero con interés los debates que se llevarán a cabo. Es importante que nosotros, la OEA y la JIDD, continuemos asegurando que nuestro trabajo responda directamente a estos tiempos de cambio y a los nuevos y emergentes desafíos.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would be remiss if I did not address another issue that concerns our Organization. As you know, the OAS is currently facing a severe financial crisis. Both the General Secretariat and Member States have been working diligently to develop ways to address our financial situation. This means that austerity measures will be implemented to reduce costs and increase efficiency. I know that you have been privy to the many recommendations that have been made. Those discussions are still on-going and our focus is to find solutions that work for all from the financial, organization and operational perspectives. And given the crippling financial state of the Organization, we must explore every option. We are also guided by the decisions of our Member States. Both Secretary General Almagro and myself will continue to dialogue with you on this matter and keep you apprised of any new developments.

In the spirit of solidarity, I once again commend the Board for all of its work in the hemisphere. Along with the Inter-American Defense College, you have continued to carry out your mandate. This has been a very informative and productive meeting. I hope that you continue to work together to address the defense and security challenges facing our region. Honorable Minister, once again, congratulations on your medal.

Thank you