Opportunities abound in the Americas--not merely to
build a trade area embracing 800 million consumers, but to forge a
community of nations committed to common values of free enterprise,
democracy, and the rule of law.
prosperous and stable democracies make better partners in
protecting our interests and confronting new challenges close to
home. At a time when serious people in this town are going to work
on "homeland security" and "perimeter security," it is only natural
to expect that simple geography will accord the Western Hemisphere
before September 11, the region was moving toward the center of our
thinking. One practical reason for that is because President Bush
personally cares about the region. A second is that we share a
commitment to representative democracy and free-market economic
These values--and the decision to work
together to advance them--were reaffirmed early in the Bush
Administration. At the Quebec Summit in April, President Bush
committed the United States to a Free Trade Area of the Americas
(FTAA). The President describes his vision of a region "trading in
Despite all of the distractions
confronting a President running a war, that strategic vision for
the Western Hemisphere is being advanced, practically as I speak.
Talks on a bilateral trade accord with Chile have continued apace,
despite the change in Administrations. Tomorrow, the House is
expected to take up the renewal of the Andean Trade Preferences
Act. And after Thanksgiving, the House Leadership has promised a
vote on Trade Promotion Authority.
skeptics in this room might have room to complain if we were only
pushing forward on just one or two of these initiatives. But the
fact that we are genuinely hopeful about advancing every one of
these regional trade initiatives speaks for itself.
Against the backdrop of the successful
launching of a Doha Round on global trade--achieved in the middle
of a war, no less--is evidence that we have a government that can
do more than one thing at a time.
old hands in this room have been around long enough to know that
this is true because we have a President who does more than
"care"--he cares enough to insist on action. Indeed, the President
has not let up on his agenda for the Americas, which was honed in
consultation with his 33 counterparts.
the Quebec Summit in April prescribed more than trade. It ensured
that the FTAA would not be merely a mercantile arrangement, but a
community of nations committed to common values. And, on this
front, the Americas are living up to their promise.
is poetic, I suppose, that on the very day that terrorists launched
horrific, devastating attacks against our core political and social
values, the nations of the Americas reaffirmed those values by
approving the Inter-American Democratic Charter in Lima.
if you haven't read that Charter, you must.
Fundamentally, the document flatly asserts
that "an unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order or
an unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that
seriously impairs the democratic order in a member state
constitutes ... an insurmountable obstacle to its government's
participation" in the inter-American system.
when you read the "fine print," I think you will be impressed.
document defines the "essential elements" of "representative
democracy"--that is to say, the "democratic order"--in very
specific and inclusive terms, including:
- Respect for "human rights and fundamental
freedoms, access to and the free exercise of power in accordance
with the rule of law, the holding of periodic, free, and fair
elections based on secret balloting and universal suffrage";
- "pluralistic system of political parties
- "separation of powers and independence of
the branches of government";
- "freedom of expression and of the press";
- "constitutional subordination of all state
institutions to the legally constituted civilian authority."
document allows any member state or the Secretary General to
trigger a response by the Organization of American States, calling
for the "immediate convocation" of a meeting of the Permanent
Council to consider the facts, deploy diplomatic efforts, or use
other political mediation.
there is a clear interruption of democratic order, or if an
undemocratic alteration is not remedied, the Charter calls for a
General Assembly that may, among other things, suspend the
offending government from the inter-American system--which requires
a two-thirds vote of the member states.
Charter contemplates a gradual, measured response to political
crises. This is not a cookie-cutter approach, and it does not rush
to suspend a member state. In fact, the dissuasive influence or the
proactive, remedial measures contemplated under this Charter are
perhaps its most important contribution.
Charter builds on a practical legacy in which the OAS advances
values that will make all of our nations stronger by making each of
our nations stronger.
keep score: In Peru, the OAS knocked the blocks out from under the
Fujimori regime. In Nicaragua, the OAS reassured all sides that
elections earlier this month would be fair. In Haiti, the OAS has
recovered credibility and clout with all parties and is still doing
quiet work to broker a political settlement that opens up political
pursue these goals as a community not because one government or
another is imposing an agenda. We do so because we are compelled by
our shared values to do so. And that solidarity has shown through
since September 11.
Since the infamous terrorist attacks,
every region of the world has had to take stock of how best to
fortify its community against terrorism and other transnational
threats. Due to the permanent dialogue at the OAS, U.S. leadership
and engagement, and practical summitry that literally has produced
a workplan for the Hemisphere, the Americas were already geared up
to respond to the post-September 11 reality.
OAS member states have collectively answered the call to confront
global terrorism, pledging solidarity and cooperation and mandating
specific actions from the inter-American community. Notably, the
Rio Treaty members have unanimously approved a resolution that puts
the Hemisphere foursquare within the global coalition confronting
Resolutions approved at the OAS 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
Rio Treaty resolution states clearly that these "terrorist attacks
against the United States of America are attacks against all
Specifically, the Rio Treaty parties are
- "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;
- 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."
OAS foreign ministers--including those states that are not party to
the Rio Treaty--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
ministers declared that "those responsible for aiding, supporting,
or harboring the perpetrators, organizers and sponsors of these
acts are equally complicit in these acts."
October 16, a committee meeting under the Rio Treaty unanimously
declared full backing for the U.S. military action and other
measures against terrorism and reaffirmed the pledge to assist the
Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism met last month--and will
meet again later this month and again in January--to devise urgent
steps that governments in the region should take to fight
terrorism. The initial focus is on drying up sources of financing
and ferreting out their illicit assets, as well as encouraging
stronger border controls and airport security.
this Committee is conducting its work is an example of the
multilateral commitment to this effort: The U.S. chairs the
Committee, Argentina is a very active vice chair, El Salvador
chairs a subcommittee designing the Committee's workplan, Colombia
chairs the panel on money laundering, and Peru heads the
subcommittee on border controls.
addition, a working group of the OAS Permanent Council--led by the
Mexican delegation--has begun a thorough but urgent drafting
process that we expect will develop a regional accord for fighting
terrorism that is both forward-looking and practical. This regional
accord 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 outline of activities, it should be clear that the battle
against terrorism is not solely a military undertaking. These
measures to fortify the Americas against international terrorism
begin with civilian-led, law enforcement authorities--designed to
impose the rule of law against criminal terrorist groups.
we tend to the current crisis, we also have a collective eye on the
horizon. We have begun an intense process to review the Hemispheric
security architecture and produce a blueprint for addressing the
post-Cold War security picture. The United States hopes that this
collective, cooperative exercise will not merely identify and
respond to threats, but allow us to seize on opportunities to
fortify our community.
conclusion, let me observe that 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 terrorism and
illicit narcotics, and bolstering economic development and
the Americas, multilateralism does not mean pursuing the lowest
common denominator, but, rather, advancing the highest common
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.
The Honorable Roger F.
Noriega is the Permanent Representative of the United States to the
Organization of American States.