of Roger Noriega, U.S. permanent representative to the Organization of
American States, October 10, 2001
STATEMENT OF AMBASSADOR
ROGER F. NORIEGA
U.S. PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE
TO THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
BEFORE THE HOUSE
COMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS
SUBCOMMITTEE ON THE
OCTOBER 10, 2001
Mr. Chairman, I thank
you for inviting me to testify before your Subcommittee this afternoon.
I will be pleased to address the multilateral efforts under way in the
hemisphere since the September 11 attacks. Mr. Curt Struble, Deputy Assistant
Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, has a written statement
that we wish to submit for the record, and Mr. Struble will answer any
questions Members may pose related to the actions of any individual country
in the region.
It is an honor for
me to have this opportunity to discuss the response of Western Hemisphere
countries at the Organization of American States to the terrorist attacks
of September 11. To provide some context for this discussion, I should
explain that on that fateful morning Secretary of State Colin Powell was
in Lima, Peru, joining other foreign ministers of the region at an OAS
Special General Assembly convened to approve the historic Inter-American
Democratic Charter. The Secretary was told of the attacks during a private
meeting with Peruvian President Alejandro Toledo, and I watched the shocking
images on television monitors outside the Assembly hall along with hundreds
of delegates from throughout the Americas. Quite literally, from the first
moments, the nations of the Americas were standing with us united
to confront the evil threat of terrorism. We witnessed the attack as an
Inter-American community, and we are responding as a community now. Indeed,
within less than two hours after the attack, just before the Secretary
left Lima to return to the United States, the OAS General Assembly issued
a statement condemning the attack and calling for strengthened hemispheric
cooperation in the fight against terrorism.
In the ensuing weeks,
hemispheric solidarity with the United States has been steadfast. Many
ambassadors to the OAS told me privately that their instructions from
their capitals were clear: Our nation stands in firm solidarity
with the United States. Within hours of the attack, several key
OAS member states called for invoking the 1947 Rio Treaty (the Inter-American
Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance) to declare that an attack against one
American state is an attack against all and to bind one another to act
in our common defense.
On September 19,
the OAS Permanent Council in which I represent the United States
invoked the Rio Treaty and convened a meeting of the Hemispheres
foreign ministers two days later to adopt urgent measures to respond to
Even those 12 of the 34 OAS member countries that are not Parties to the
Rio Treaty including Canada and all but three Caribbean countries
participated in the meeting invoked under the Treaty because they
recognized that these assaults on humanity demanded an unprecedented,
Secretary of State
Powell told the assembled foreign ministers at OAS Headquarters September
21, We, the united democracies of the Western Hemisphere, join the
world in the global campaign against terrorism. We have pledged to deny
terrorists and their networks the ability to operate within our territories.
We have resolved to hold to account all those responsible for aiding,
financing, and otherwise supporting and harboring terrorists.
The OAS member states
have collectively answered the call, pledging solidarity and cooperation
and mandating specific actions from the OAS and member states in response.
In addition, the Rio Treaty members have unanimously approved a resolution
that puts the Hemisphere foursquare within the global coalition confronting
terrorism. The resolution states clearly that these terrorist attacks
against the United States of America are attacks against all American
states and that in accordance with all relevant provisions of the ¼
Rio Treaty and the principle of continental solidarity, all States Parties
to the Rio Treaty shall provide effective reciprocal assistance to address
such attacks and the threat of any similar attacks¼. (OAS
Ministerial Resolution, Terrorist Threat to the Americas,
September 21, 2001, RC.24/RES.1/01, para. 1)
Mr. Chairman, these
resolutions are not mere rhetoric; they provide the framework for action.
They represent legislation that sets policy for the OAS member governments.
Moreover, the resolution pursuant to the Rio Treaty constitutes legally
binding commitments by each of the parties to the Treaty.
Rio Treaty parties agreed:
* To use all
legally available measures to pursue, capture, extradite, and punish
any persons involved in the September 11 attacks or any persons harboring
the perpetrators; (para. 2) and,
* To render
additional assistance and support to the United States and to each other
to address the September 11 attacks and to prevent future terrorist
acts. (para. 3)
In addition, the
foreign ministers authorized a Rio Treaty Committee of the OAS Permanent
Council to track the ensuing events and adopt additional measures necessary
to ensure an effective Hemispheric response to these attacks and the threat
of terrorism. To this end, State Department Counterterrorism officials
briefed OAS Permanent Representatives and White House Ambassadors on October
5 on the compelling evidence assembled since September 11 that implicates
Usama Bin Ladin and the al-Quaida terrorist network.
The OAS foreign ministers
also called upon all member states and the entire international
community to take effective measures to deny terrorist groups the ability
to operate within their territories¼. The ministers declared
that those responsible for aiding, supporting, or harboring the
perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these acts are equally complicit
in these acts. (OAS Ministerial Resolution, Strengthening
Hemispheric Cooperation to Prevent, Combat, and Eliminate Terrorism,
September 21, 2001, RC.23/RES.1/01, para. 3)
The foreign ministers
also approved two specific mandates: the Inter-American Committee Against
Terrorism was tasked to identify urgent actions aimed at strengthening
¼ cooperation to prevent, combat, and eliminate terrorism in the
Hemisphere. (para. 8) And, the OAS Permanent Council was instructed
to draft an Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism. (para.
Since receiving those
mandates, the Committee Against Terrorism, which is currently chaired
by the United States, is set to meet in a Special Session next Monday
to identify practical, urgent steps that governments in the region should
take to fight terrorism, with the initial focus on drying up sources of
financing and ferreting out their illicit assets as well as encouraging
stronger border controls and airport security. We expect that the Committee
Against Terrorism will convene the regions senior counterterrorism
policy makers for a regular session in the near future to commit to long-term
strategies and tactics aimed at denying terrorists the ability to operate
in the Americas.
With respect to the
proposed regional treaty against terrorism, the OAS Permanent Council
will begin a thorough but urgent drafting process which we expect will
develop a regional accord for fighting terrorism that is both forward-looking
and practical. It could potentially serve as a model for the rest of the
world, given the exceptional degree of unity of purpose and resolve within
the Hemisphere. This will not be a mere repetition of other international
instruments: we expect to take additional steps to make our Hemisphere
inhospitable to those who desire to conduct terrorist activities and to
those who support terrorists.
As Secretary Powell
said at the OAS last month, Now, the long hard work must be done.
Now, our governments, our law enforcement authorities and our civic institutions
must find ways to work together at all levels and more cooperatively than
ever before, exchanging life-saving information, coordinating our activities.
Now, individually and collectively, we must take concrete steps to tighten
border controls, enhance air- and seaport security, improve financial
controls and increase the effectiveness of our counter-terrorism forces.
He continued, Let
there be no question, let there be no doubt, we are in this worldwide
campaign together for the long haul. We have endured an enormous tragedy
but we will overcome. We will defend the rule of law against the lawless.
We will not allow murderers to destroy our democracies and devastate our
economies. We will never let our future be hijacked by terrorists.
Mr. Chairman and
Members of the Committee, in recent years, thanks to a bipartisan policy
in the Americas, the OAS has been gradually evolving into a more results-oriented
organization that can advance a common agenda of promoting democracy and
human rights, fighting illicit narcotics, and bolstering economic development
and trade. In the Americas, multilateralism does not mean pursuing the
lowest common denominator, but, rather, advancing the highest common ideals.
Through the OAS,
and bilaterally, the governments of the Western Hemisphere are beginning
to show themselves capable of working rapidly, systematically, and cooperatively.
It is timely that they have agreed to defeat the scourge of terrorism
by working through this increasingly active multilateral forum.
Since the horrific
attacks of September 11, our Hemispheric solidarity is galvanized as never
before not out of fear, but by an iron-willed resolve, not out
of any doubts about our common ideals, but by a strong determination to
stand together to defend them.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
As of October 12,
2001, this document was also available online at http://www.house.gov/international_relations/nori1010.htm