Hemispheric Security and the Port of Spain Summit of the Americas

Fact Sheet
Bureau of Western Hemisphere Affairs
November 11, 2009


The Summit of the Americas took place April 18-19, 2009, in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago and provided an opportunity for leaders of the 34 states of the western hemisphere to highlight the region’s commitment to and support for human prosperity, energy security, and environmental sustainability. The Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain, like past Summit Declarations, addressed hemispheric security issues because they are an important component of the region's agenda. The text below reflects all the references from the Declaration to hemispheric security. The full text of the Summit Declaration can be found at www.summit-americas.org.


5. We affirm that the solutions to the challenges facing our peoples are closely inter-dependent with our efforts to promote sustainable development and social inclusion; build stronger democratic institutions; strengthen governance in our democracies; preserve the rule of law and ensure access to justice for all citizens; protect and promote human rights and fundamental freedoms; prevent and combat violence, crime, terrorism and corruption; fight the global drug problem and related crimes; and achieve broader civic participation of all citizens of the inter-American community.

Strengthening Public Security

68. We recognise the importance of addressing the threats, concerns and other challenges to security in the Hemisphere that are diverse, multidimensional in scope and impact on the well-being of our citizens. We reaffirm that our concept of security in the Hemisphere incorporates the priorities of each State, contributes to the consolidation of peace, integral development and social justice, and is based on democratic values, respect for and promotion and defence of human rights, solidarity, cooperation and respect for national sovereignty. It is indispensable for our States to strengthen cooperation on security matters. We therefore reaffirm our commitment to the Declaration on Security in the Americas.

69. We reiterate our most vigorous condemnation of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, as criminal and unjustifiable under any circumstances, in any place, and regardless of who perpetrates it, because it poses a grave threat to international peace and security, and to the democracy, stability and prosperity of the countries in the region. We commit to prevent, punish and eliminate terrorism and to continue the fight against all criminal activities that finance and facilitate it, with full respect for domestic law and international law, including international human rights law, international humanitarian law and international refugee law. We also commit to strengthen cooperation, including mutual legal assistance and extradition, in combating terrorism and its financing, in accordance with our domestic law and established international conventions. We urge those States that have not yet done so to accede to the international conventions on terrorism.

70. We will continue to fight all forms of transnational organised crime, illicit trafficking in drugs, illicit trafficking in arms, ammunition and explosives, illicit trafficking in persons and smuggling of migrants, money laundering, corruption, terrorism, kidnapping, criminal gangs, and crimes associated with the use of technology, including cyber crime. We therefore reaffirm our will to implement the Commitment to Public Security in the Americas adopted by the First Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas in October 2008 in Mexico City, the commitments emanating from Meetings of Ministers of Justice or other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA), as well as the 2006 Hemispheric Plan of Action Against Transnational Organised Crime. We thus invite the international community and international financial organisations to continue making financial contributions and other appropriate forms of assistance, within the scope of their respective competencies, to facilitate the achievement of the objectives of public security in the Americas.

71. Accordingly, we commit to fostering public policies, in coordination with pertinent institutions and with citizen and community participation, designed to prevent crime, violence and insecurity, and to strengthen with a multidimensional approach and in accordance with domestic law, the channels of communication and the exchange of information, practices and experiences among Member States in combating and preventing crimes affecting public security. Moreover, we will strengthen our national and regional capacities through, inter alia, increased cooperation and technical assistance, as appropriate, that enable us to benefit from the expertise of each Member State.

72. We will increase our efforts to prevent and combat all aspects of the global drug problem and related crimes, with strengthened international cooperation and an integral and balanced approach based on the principle of common and shared responsibility, in accordance with the principles enshrined in the United Nations and OAS Charters, international law and our applicable legal frameworks. To this end, we will strengthen our national capacities and will continue to implement, as appropriate, the recommendations of the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM). We welcome the completion of its latest Evaluation Round, and we will continue strengthening the Mechanism so as to enable it to face the new challenges and needs of the countries of the Hemisphere. We also recognise the importance of sustainable alternative development programmes and, where appropriate, of preventive alternative development in tackling the global drug problem.

73. We request that the General Secretariat of the OAS submit to the next Summit of the Americas a progress report on the implementation of commitments made at the Meetings of Ministers Responsible for Public Security in the Americas (MISPA) and at the Meetings of Ministers of Justice or other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA). We look forward to advancing further cooperation at these meetings and the work of the OAS in support of the MISPA and the REMJA. We express appreciation for the ongoing technical support of the OAS in matters covered by these meetings.

74. We recognise that violence is preventable and as such, we will formulate or strengthen policies that take an integrated approach to its prevention. To this end, we will complement law-enforcement policies with other violence-prevention strategies of measurable outcomes, in areas such as education, labour, health and other pertinent fields, as appropriate. We will continue to strengthen and implement activities that promote a culture of non-violence within a public health context, and to create safe, healthy, sustainable environments and communities. We acknowledge the Declaration of the First Meeting of Ministers of Health of the Americas on Violence and Injury Prevention, held in Merida, Mexico in March 2008, which commits to further innovate, develop, implement, and evaluate plans for violence prevention.

75. We are convinced that illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives and other related materials are a threat to security, breed violence, exacerbate conflicts and adversely affect the rule of law. We reiterate the need for effective cooperation to prevent, combat and eradicate this threat and in this regard we reaffirm the value of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives and other Related Materials (CIFTA) and its model legislation as a basis for such cooperation. We will continue to combat the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives and other related materials by, among other actions, marking and tracing firearms, destroying excess stocks of firearms designated by each State, securing and managing stockpiles and regulating firearms brokering, including sanctions for illicit arms brokering for the purpose of avoiding their diversion through illicit channels and their proliferation.

76. We will redouble our efforts to prevent access to our financial systems by funds/assets of illicit origin, through national measures and international cooperation to identify, track, freeze, seize or forfeit the funds/assets that are proceeds of criminal activity, and determine their destination and/or return in accordance with our national legislation and international law.

77. We also emphasise our decision to address the criminal gang problem, its related aspects and its effects on the social environment, which challenge the progress made by our societies in the process to achieve stability, democratisation and sustainable development, taking a global approach that includes, inter alia, prevention, rehabilitation and reintegration of individuals affected by this phenomenon. To that end, we will encourage OAS efforts to prepare a comprehensive hemispheric strategy to promote inter-American cooperation in dealing with criminal gangs.