First Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas: Commitment to Public Security in the Americas

October 8, 2008

(Adopted at the seventh plenary session held on October 8, 2008)

We, the Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas, gathered together in Mexico City, Mexico, on October 7 and 8, 2008, bearing in mind the purposes of the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) and recalling the Declaration on Security in the Americas adopted on October 28, 2003, have, within our specific spheres of competence, adopted the following Commitment.


That public security is the exclusive duty and obligation of the State, strengthens the rule of law, and is expected to safeguard the well-being and security of persons and protect the enjoyment of all their rights;

That conditions for public security are improved through full respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as through the promotion of education, health, and social and economic development;

The importance of international cooperation for improving economic and social conditions and thereby strengthening public security;

That law enforcement forms part of any public security strategy that includes crime prevention, rehabilitation, and reintegration, and that all those factors are required to effectively combat crime, violence and insecurity;

The importance of the cross-cutting integration of the provisionsof international law in the institutional culture, doctrine, education, training, and actions of the security forces;

The major work done on multidimensional security on a subregional basis in the inter-American system and the United Nations system;

The contributions of international organizations and agencies, distinguished scholars, and civil society during the preparations for this ministerial meeting;1


That the effective exercise of the rule of law depends on enforcement of the laws that govern it;

That violence and crime negatively affect the social, economic, and political development of our societies;

That the actions of public security institutions should be governed by respect for human rights, and the principles of legality, objectivity, efficiency, professionalism, and honesty;

Of the priority of confronting crime, violence and insecurity in a joint, preventive, comprehensive, coherent, effective, and continuous manner;

Of the growing presence of private security services in many of our countries, which governments are responsible for regulating, monitoring, and supervising;

Of the need to ensure linkages with the Meeting of Ministers of Justice or Other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA) on public security issues related to criminal justice in the Americas in the context of its mandates;


Because in addition to interpersonal violence and common crimes, many countries in the region are confronted with some of the following criminal activities: transnational organized crime, illegal trafficking of drugs, arms, and persons, money laundering, corruption, terrorism, kidnapping, criminal gangs and crimes associated with the use of technology, including cybercrime;

Because transnational organized crime activities may be used to finance and facilitate terrorism;2

About the increasein many countries of the region in victims belonging to at-risk populations, especially youth, and about the increase in the participation of youth in crimes and acts of violence;

Because violence can also manifest itself in different areas, affecting in particular and in different ways the community, families, women, children, and men;

About the need to improve prison conditions in the Hemisphere and the challenges to public security stemming from the increase in the prison population, including the administrative costs, the need to ensure the safety of inmates and prison staff, and the impact on rehabilitation of the inmates;

TAKING NOTE of the OAS’ Inter-American Police Training Program, the purpose of which is to leverage the different police training experiences, which exist in the countries of the Hemisphere;

BEARING IN MIND the progress achieved in the study on citizen security and human rights being prepared by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) under an agreement with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR); and

RECOGNIZING that additional efforts are needed at the hemispheric, subregional, and national levels, including at the local level, to reduce crime, violence, and insecurity in the region, we should therefore:


1) Foster and strengthen comprehensive long-term government security policies, with full respect for human rights;

2) Strengthen, within the context of those policies, the capacity of our states to promote citizen security and to respond effectively to insecurity, crime, and violence, by adapting their legal framework, structures, operational procedures, and management mechanisms, as necessary;

3) Analyze public security problems from a comprehensive point of view, taking into account emerging threats, and to promote management instruments that enable the national authorities to evaluate, and, where necessary, improve the effectiveness of public security policies;

4) Strengthen border security, wherever appropriate, in accordance with the legal and administrative systems applicable in the member states, with a view to preventing and counteracting crime and violence, all the while facilitating the legitimate flow of persons and goods;

5) Enhance our understanding of private security services and develop and/or strengthen, as necessary, legal norms to regulate their functioning;

6) Strengthen and, as appropriate, establish policies and programs for the modernization of the prison systems of the member states and for the design of sustainable social reintegration models, especially for youth;


7) Foster, in coordination with the pertinent institutions, public policies designed to prevent crime, violence, and insecurity;

8) Promote educational programs, in particular in schools, and raise awareness among the different players in society regarding the prevention of crime, violence, and insecurity;


9) Promote the modernization of police management by incorporating transparency and accountability, enhance the professionalization of security forces; and improve the living and working conditions of their members;

10) Continue training human resources in public security issues, including the OAS Inter-American Police Training Program;

11) Request the OAS General Secretariat to conduct a feasibility study, with inputs from member states, on the best ways to strengthen in the region the training and education of personnel with responsibility in public security matters, and to submit that study, as soon as possible, for consideration by the member states;

12) Consider creating and maintaining as necessary governmental observatories of crime and violence with the purpose of contributing to the design of strategic and operational plans for public security and citizen security, to strengthen the fight against and prevention of crime, violence and insecurity;


13) Encourage and strengthen citizen and community participation in theimplementation ofpublic security plans and programs;

14) Encourage and strengthen social responsibility as well as a culture of comprehensive prevention of crime, violence, and insecurity, with the participation of citizens, the community, the media, and the private sector;

15) Promote, in that context, public policies that strengthen citizen trust in public security institutions;


16) Taking a multidimensional approach and in accordance with domestic law, strengthen channels of communication and the exchange of information, practices, and experiences among the member states in combating and preventing crimes affecting public security;

17) Promote the adoption of measures that encourage the sharing of relevant information by the police for the purpose of the prevention or investigation of transnational crime affecting public security in an efficient and reliable way, in accordance with national legislation;

18) Consider cooperation initiatives to increase knowledge of the different facets and impact of crime in the member states, in order to strengthen public security policy structures;

19) Encourage member states to consider developing comparable public security parameters in order to strengthen our cooperative efforts;

20) Take note of the contribution of subregional police cooperation mechanisms, and of the establishment of the American Police Community (AMERIPOL);

21) Urge member states to consider acceding to and/or ratifying the treaties, agreements, and conventions that contribute to compliance with this Commitment;

22) Urge the member states to recognize the role of mutual legal assistance and extradition in response to the commission, execution, planning, preparation, or financing of terrorist acts and organized crime, in accordance with their domestic law and established international conventions;

23) Promote the exchange of experiences of civil society that contribute to strengthening public security;


24) Request the OAS General Assembly to convene a future Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas;

25) Request the OAS General Secretariat to provide to the states that so request ongoing technical support in matters of public security management, crime prevention, police management, citizen and community participation, and international cooperation, in order to achieve the purposes, objectives, and actions of this Commitment;

26) Invite OAS member states, permanent observers to the OAS, and the institutions of the inter-American system to make voluntary financial and/or human resourcecontributionsto achieve the full implementation of this Commitment;

27) Invite the entities and agencies of the inter-American system, such as the Inter-American Development Bank and the Pan American Health Organization, as well as other agencies and entities of the United Nations and international systems, to contribute, within their respective spheres of competence, to the achievement of the objectives of this Commitment;

28) Request the OAS Permanent Council, through the Committee on Hemispheric Security, to follow up on this Commitment;

29) Welcome with satisfaction the offer of the Government of the Republic of Uruguay to host a Meeting of Experts in Public Security during 2009 in preparation for the Second Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas;

30) Welcome with satisfaction the offer of the Dominican Republic to host the Second Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas in 2009, and the offer of Trinidad and Tobago to host the Third Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas in 2010; and,

31) Thank and pay tribute to the Government of Mexico for having hosted the First Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas, which constitutes a milestone in the Hemisphere’s commitment to prevent and fight crime, violence, and insecurity.

[1]. Forum of academics and experts in Santiago, Chile (CSH/GT/MISPA-2/08) (November 26-27, 2007); Forum of academics and experts in Montego Bay, Jamaica (CSH/GT/MISPA-4/08) (March 6-7, 2008); Meeting with civil society representatives, held in Guatemala City (CSH/GT/MISPA-14/08 corr. 1) (August 6-7, 2008); Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), CARICOM, International Center for the Prevention of Crime (ICPC); Inter-American Coalition for the Prevention of Violence (IACPV); International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC); Andean Community; United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), MERCOSUR, United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-HABITAT), Pan American Health Organization, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Executive Secretariat of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and SICA.

[2]. The Government of Ecuador reserves is position on this paragraph.