Statement by Ambassador Odeen Ishmael to the Permanent Council of the OAS
Condemning the Terrorist Acts in Colombia - 12 February 2003

Posted February 12th. 2003

I have listened very attentively to the statement by the distinguished Vice President of Colombia in which he vividly described the acts of terrorism unleashed on his country. It is, indeed, a trying time for the people of this beautiful land, and it brings home to us the fact that terrorism has no geographical boundary. As long as any one of our countries is attacked, we are all collectively under siege. The terrorism that has hit Colombia can easily be copied in any of our countries.

The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) delegations here at the Organization of American States vehemently deplore the criminal and monstrously destructive terrorist act of February 7 in Bogota that resulted in enormous loss of life. We offer our sincere sympathies to the Government and people of Colombia, and I take this opportunity, on behalf of the CARICOM delegations, to render support to the draft resolution, which condemns the brutal act of terrorism on this member state of our organization.

Mr. Chairman, we call to mind that when the murderous terrorist acts struck the United States on September 11, 2001, we all wished the United States Government every success in its efforts to marshal the forces of humanity into a coalition to conquer international terrorism, which affects us all and which violates ideals that we profess and support. Were we to allow terrorism to go unchallenged, it would have the effect of negating all that we have worked and struggled for in this organization. Our opposition to terrorism is complete and absolute. We support the efforts to rein in terror, and we pledge our full cooperation to root out terrorism.

The CARICOM delegations support the multifaceted efforts of our organization to deal with terrorism. There is an abundance of antiterrorism conventions. We subscribe to the Declaration of Lima to Prevent, Combat, and Eliminate Terrorism and the Plan of Action on Hemispheric Cooperation to Prevent, Combat, and Eliminate Terrorism, which were adopted on April 26, 1996. We also support the resolution adopted on September 21, 2001, at the Twenty-fourth Meeting of the Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs, acting as Organ of Consultation in application of the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (TIAR), the Rio Treaty. This resolution established a program of solidarity and mutual assistance in the American Hemisphere to deal with the scourge of terrorism. We also fully endorse UN Security Council resolution 1373 (2001) which, in our view, represents a significant advance in the efforts of the international community to eradicate terrorism while constituting an innovative interpretation of the Charter of the United Nations.

Mr. Chairman, I recall that some years ago, the UN General Assembly requested the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to give an advisory opinion concerning the competence of the General Assembly in the admission of a state to the United Nations. In a dissenting opinion, the distinguished Chilean judge, Alejandro Alvarez, stated that it is necessary when interpreting treaties, in particular the Charter of the United Nations, to look ahead: that is, to have regard to the new conditions and not to look back. Once established, a treaty or a text acquires a life of its own. Consequently, the Chilean judge said, in interpreting it, we must have regard to the exigencies of contemporary life. I

The meaning of the United Nations Charter in 2001 was, and still is, significantly at variance with its meaning in 1945. This reality reflects changes that have occurred in the world in the intervening period.

Similarly, the OAS Charter, set out in the late 1940s, must also be reexamined in the light of the political, economic, and social realities that now exist in this hemisphere. The period in which we live is different from the 1940s, and the framers of the OAS Charter contemplated threats to the maintenance of international peace and security that are often radically at variance with the kinds of threats with which we are confronted today. International terrorism, in all its ramifications, does constitute a threat to the maintenance of international peace and security.

I reiterate the unswerving support of the CARICOM delegations for all the efforts we have crafted for the purpose of defeating terrorism. These efforts are hugely multilateral and derive an enhanced legitimacy from that sobering reality. We shall prevail. Our survival, with the full complement of rights to which we all aspire, requires that we do.

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