Statement by Ambassador Odeen Ishmael, Permanent Representative of Guyana to the OAS, at the Meeting of the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE) Washington DC, January 28, 2002

Posted February 1st. 2002

Mr. Chairman,

The destructive terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11 last year have changed drastically the direction of world history. While they have on the one hand caused fear and anxiety to increase, on the other hand they have brought a multitude of governments together in an antiterrorism coalition. More and more governments are closely cooperating with each other as they take measures to strengthen their own security in the workplace, and at their international ports of entry and exit.

It is unfortunate that those terrorist acts, and the resultant safeguards that countries have put in place, have now acted to build fences around many of our countries. The onward march of globalization, the expansion of free trade, and political and economic understandings between nations over the past few years, helped significantly in removing walls and fences. The brakes have now been put on this momentum, but hopefully, this setback will only be temporary.

Mr. Chairman,
Guyana supports the efforts of the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism to deal with the issue of terrorism. We currently subscribe to the OAS Declaration of Lima to Prevent, Combat and Eliminate Terrorism with its Plan of Action on Hemispheric Cooperation approved on April 26, 1996. We also fully support the resolution adopted at the Organization of American States on September 21, 2001 by the Meeting of Consultation of Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the States-Parties invoking the Inter-American Treaty of Reciprocal Assistance (the Rio Treaty). This resolution established a program of solidarity and mutual assistance in the American hemisphere to deal with the scourge of terrorism.

For their success, these efforts require that we pay heed to the instances of injustice that abound in the contemporary world. Where injustice is manifest, it can become a politically destabilizing force and breed hatred conditions that might be exploited by the unscrupulous for the furtherance of their own evil ends. The current revolution in communications has now rendered it impossible to conceal injustice from the eyes of its victims.

It was the process of decolonization that gave rise to the greatest increase in the membership of the Organization of American States and also of the United Nations. We must ensure that the freedoms which we sought for ourselves are enjoyed by everyone else. We must ensure that there is everywhere respect for human rights, for our common humanity, for our right as human beings to pursue our legitimate destiny, whether individually or as a collective, embodied in a state without arbitrary interference or denial.

Mr. Chairman, Guyana fully supports 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, simultaneously, constituting an innovative interpretation of the Charter of the United Nations.

The present period in which we live is different from the 1940s, and the framers of the UN Charter - and even 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. It is therefore appropriate that the decision-making machinery that is vested in the UN Charter is enlisted with a view to eradicating this malady.

Like all countries of this hemisphere, Guyana has taken firm steps in support of international efforts to combat terrorism. The strongest security measures are in place at our international ports. We have also taken steps to cooperate very closely with our CARICOM partners and with the United States Government in the area of intelligence aimed at tightening security. Our money laundering legislation is currently being reviewed with the aim of further strengthening it; this will certainly act as a further increased deterrent against drug trafficking and its related evils.

Our emphasis on expanded security has caused us to divert funds from other crucial areas of national development such as the social sector. It is a sacrifice we have to make, but we feel that it is necessary to put preventive measures in place. We cannot let our guard down.

Mr. Chairman, I reiterate Guyana's unswerving support for all the efforts crafted for the purpose of defeating terrorism. These efforts are hugely multilateral and derive an enhanced legitimacy from that sobering reality. Our survival, with the full complement of rights to which we all aspire, requires that we do!

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