Sixth Conference of Ministers of Defense of the Americas: Declaration of Quito

November 21, 2004

Quito, Ecuador
November 21, 2004

The Ministers of Defense and Heads of Delegations participating in the Sixth Conference of Ministers of Defense of the Americas, meeting in Quito, Ecuador, from November 16 to 21, 2004,


1. The agreements and commitments entered into by the Heads of State and Government at the Miami, Santiago, Quebec City, and Monterrey Summits.

2. The importance of the Special Conference on Security and the Declaration on Security in the Americas, which establishes the new concept of hemispheric security, which is multidimensional in scope, includes traditional and new threats, concerns, and other challenges to the security of the States of 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, promotion and defense of human rights, solidarity, cooperation, and respect for national sovereignty.

3. The principles and conclusions of the Conferences of Ministers of Defense of the Americas, set forth in the Declarations of Williamsburg, Bariloche, Cartagena, Manaus, and Santiago.

4. The scope and contents of international human rights instruments and international humanitarian law, especially the Consensus Document on the Human Rights Initiative, approved by the Guatemala meeting in 2002.

5. The bilateral and multilateral agreements in force among the countries of the hemisphere.

6. The proposals, recommendations, and conclusions reached at the present Conference.

Do hereby declare that:

1. Democracy is an essential condition for the stability, peace, security, and development of the States of the hemisphere.

They reaffirm their commitment to the full observance of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, its values, principles, and mechanisms.

They reiterate the importance of the principle of subordination of the Armed and/or Public Security Forces to the Constitution and to the legally established civil authorities of their States and the respect for the rule of law of all national institutions and sectors of society, principles that are essential for democracy.

Their States will continue working together to ensure the concrete follow-up and implementation of the Declaration on Security in the Americas and the other commitments made by the Summits of the Americas and the agreements entered into at the Conferences of the Ministers of Defense of the Americas.

2. Security constitutes a multidimensional condition for the development and progress of their nations. Security is consolidated when its human dimension is promoted. The conditions for human security improve with the full respect for dignity, human rights, and the basic freedoms of the people, in the framework of the rule of law, as well as by promoting social and economic development, education, the fight against poverty, disease, and hunger.

Security is indispensable to create economic and social opportunities for all and to generate a favorable environment to attract, retain, and productively use the investment and trade that are necessary to create sources of employment and fulfill the hemisphere's social aspirations.

Extreme poverty and social exclusion of broad sectors of the population are also affecting stability and democracy, eroding social cohesiveness and undermining the security of the States.

3. Security and defense are responsibilities of the States and society as a whole, and their democratic management does not pertain exclusively to the Armed and/or Public Security Forces; therefore, the role of society is essential for their fulfillment, performance, and functional articulation in the region's political systems.

4. Their conviction that the public and democratic nature and transparency of security and defense policies contribute to consolidating peace and security among the States of the region.

5. In a framework of hemispheric cooperation, each State has the sovereign right to identify its own national security and defense priorities; to define strategies, plans, and actions to address threats to its security, in keeping with its legal framework; and with full respect for international law and with the regulations and principles of the Charter of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Charter of the United Nations (UN).

6. Exercising territorial control is a national responsibility. Each State shall determine the best way to exercise sovereignty over its territory, on the basis of its own requirements, laws, circumstances and resources, and international treaties and obligations.

7. It is the responsibility of each State to promote the transformation and modernization of the Armed and/or Public Security Forces, in terms of their roles, structure, equipment, and training for the purpose of fulfilling its mandates regarding national sovereignty and taking up the new challenges of the 21st century.

8. They support common efforts to promote social, ethnic, and gender equity in the Armed and/or Public Security Forces, in the States of the hemisphere, thus granting ever-increasing equality of opportunities.

9. In this era of globalization, the hemisphere is encountering a rise in diverse, complex threats and risks diversely affecting States, society, and persons; some of them are global and multidimensional and require adequate hemispheric cooperation to be addressed, including, as highlighted by the Declaration on Security in the Americas in paragraph 4 m), the special threat that drug trafficking, illicit trafficking in arms and persons, and organized crime, among others, entail for the hemisphere.

These multidimensional threats can exert a particularly intense impact on smaller nations, which can be more vulnerable to them. In addition, as underscored by the Declaration on Security in the Americas, they recognize the global threat stemming from the possibility of using weapons of mass destruction by terrorists.

These new threats such as terrorism, drug trafficking, the illicit trafficking of arms, and transnational crime are a challenge to the region's nations.

The proliferation and illicit trafficking of small arms and light weapons foster greater criminality and violence in their societies. This problem exerts a larger impact on small States which, because of their size, require special assistance to increase their technical and human resources to address them. They encourage the hemisphere's financial institutions to support them in their efforts.

They recognize that cooperation in matters of regional security and defense is essential. Only through bilateral, subregional, and regional cooperation can they address traditional and new threats. Dialogue on security and defense strengthens the inter-American system and promotes a climate of confidence, transparency, and stability in the hemisphere.

10. Existing regional and subregional security and defense agreements contribute to hemispheric security, and they should be observed and taken into consideration in its conceptualization of a cooperative security system that emphasizes conflict prevention and recognition of the special strategic contexts of each subregion in the hemisphere.

11. Hemispheric security is further strengthened by the greater convergence and integration of national defense and security policies, on the basis of transparency, reciprocity, and mutual confidence.

12. Transformations in the global security context have contributed to the emergence of a new type of risk factor, which are affecting unevenly and differently the States and regions, and they should be addressed by integral, coordinated, and cooperative approaches that recognize and harmonize diverse interests, perceptions, and responses of the States and respect international law.

13. Among the common concerns for security and defense, whether traditional or nontraditional, conflict prevention, the peaceful settlement of disputes, and mutual confidence building among the States of the region are included, on the basis of a cooperative concept of security and defense, which recognizes its multidimensional character, involves State and non-State actors, and includes political, economic, social, and natural components.

14. Security can be strengthened on the basis of respect for democratic values, the principles of self-determination, nonintervention, the peaceful settlement of disputes among States, respect for and promotion of human rights, abstention from the threat or use of force, in conformity with international law, the Charters of the United Nations (UN), the Organization of American States (OAS), and bilateral and multilateral treaties and agreements in force.

15. The common will of their States to strengthen cooperation mechanisms, intergovernmental exchange and coordination, in order to guarantee peace and stability in the region, promoting greater transparency and responsibility of defense and security institutions, and promoting understanding and cooperation among government institutions involved in security and defense, by fostering the exchange of information and security and defense policy and doctrine documents, collaboration in training, inter-operability, and the active participation in peace-keeping missions, and humanitarian aid operations in natural disaster situations.

16. The political will to strengthen multilateral security institutions in the United Nations, especially peace-keeping operations. Its support of the voluntary and active participation of the nations of the hemisphere in peace-keeping operations authorized by mandate of the United Nations and those that are developed in the framework of peace treaties and agreements.

They recognize that participation is a commitment of each State in accordance with national interests and respective laws, and they share the willingness to expand regional cooperation for peace-keeping operations, for which it is necessary to improve the education and training of military and civilians in this area and increase the inter-operability of the region's Armed and/or Public Security Forces.

17. The development, formulation, and exchange of defense policies in White Papers constitute a significant contribution to confidence, security and cooperation, for which it is advisable to develop a methodology for their formulation, which includes national experiences and plans the formulation of subregional White Papers, as appropriate. They would like to highlight, regarding this, the contribution contained in the document "Guidelines for the Preparation of Documents on National Defense Policies and Doctrines," drawn up by the Committee on Hemispheric Security of the Organization of American States (OAS).

18. Their conviction that, in the framework of defense and security, professional exchanges, education, joint training, the exchange of information on functions, procedures, and institutional organization are the best ways to build mutual confidence. On the basis of this perspective, they recommend promoting the development of new initiatives of transparency in the defense and security sphere.

19. They highlight the increase in interoperability among the Armed and/or Public Security Forces of the region. In particular, they recognize cooperation in maritime security and peace-keeping operations, among others.

20. Budget transparency constitutes a fundamental factor for cooperation in security and defense, for which it is advisable to implement methodologies to measure defense spending as the best mechanism for mutual confidence building. In this context, they commend the States that have made progress in developing common standardized methodologies to measure defense spending and those that have participated in providing the United Nations and the Organization of American States with information on military spending.

21. They reiterate the region's commitment to the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction and to the universal application of the Biological Weapons Convention, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons. They reaffirm their support to international organizations in charge of monitoring these agreements, including the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its strengthened system of safeguards, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

In accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 1540 (2004) regarding cooperation to combat the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, they also support the establishment of national controls for the export and import of materials, equipment, technology, and specialized know-how that can contribute to manufacturing, producing, and/or using weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.

22. They take note of the Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Arms Acquisition that came into force in November 2003 and their recommendation to the States to consider ratification of the Convention.

23. All States, especially the smaller States of the hemisphere are aware that the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives and other materials related to the threat to hemispheric security, which when used by terrorists and criminals undermine the rule of law, engender violence and in some cases impunity, aggravate conflicts, and represent a severe danger for the security of persons. They reiterate the need for effective cooperation to impede, combat, and eradicate this threat, and recognize the value of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials (CIFTA).

24. They are satisfied at the fact that the hemisphere is the region of the world where the most noteworthy and fastest achievements have taken place to implement humanitarian demining, because of the many States that have concluded their demining operations and are ready to be declared free of anti-personnel landmines, as well as to implement the Convention on the Prohibition of the Use, Stockpiling, Production and Transfer of Anti-Personnel Mines and Their Destruction and Amended Protocol II (relative to Mines) of the Convention on Prohibitions or Restrictions on the Use of Certain Conventional Weapons Which May Be Deemed to Be Excessively Injurious or to Have Indiscriminate Effects. They congratulate the States of the region that are Parties to these two conventions and recommend that other States consider the possibility of becoming Parties.

They commend the progress made in the region on humanitarian demining as it contributes to extending and deepening mutual confidence building measures and consolidating hemispheric peace and security.

They reaffirm their support to national programs for integral action against anti-personnel landmines promoted in the region and that include education about the risk of mines, assistance, and the socioeconomic reinsertion of landmine victims.

25. It is a shared objective to prevent, combat, and eliminate all forms of terrorism, organized crime, and drug trafficking, and illicit trafficking in arms and their connections and effects on the security of the region.

26. They reiterate their most forceful rejection of all forms of terrorism and their support for the work of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE).

They also reiterate their support of the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism, international conventions aimed at fighting terrorism, United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1373 (2001) and 1566 (2004), and the 12 UN conventions and protocols on terrorism in accordance with the respective domestic laws of each State and in conformity with international law.

27. They also reaffirm their support of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) and the Consultative Committee of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials (CIFTA).

28. It is their objective to strengthen the implementation, integration, and continuity of programs for education on human rights and international humanitarian law inside the Armed and/or Public Security Forces, since this contributes to strengthening democracy and respecting the rule of law.

29. They commend the Armed and/or Public Security Forces of the region that have incorporated international humanitarian law and human rights in their doctrine and observed their standards in the different spheres of their applicability. They urge all States to share their achievements and experiences acquired in implementing the Human Rights Initiative or their respective plans or programs for integrating international humanitarian law and/or human rights in the respective military spheres, and they highlight technical cooperation and assistance of the International Committee of the Red Cross.

30. It is their commitment to protect noncombatant civilian population during armed conflicts and to fulfill their obligations under international humanitarian law.

31. They reiterate their support of the implementation of civil aviation security programs in the framework of resolutions adopted by the Assembly of the International Civil Aviation Organization at its 35th session in Montreal in October 2004 regarding the threat posed to civil aviation by the possible use of man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) by terrorist groups.

32. Their support of the decision of the 34th General Assembly of the OAS to convene a meeting of the Committee on Hemispheric Security (CHS), as the Forum for Confidence and Security Building Measures, during the first half of 2005, in order to review and assess existing measures, and to examine, consider, and propose a new generation of confidence enhancing measures.

33. Their support of the work of Committee on Hemispheric Security (CHS) to complete, in consultation with the authorities of the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB), examination and deliberations about defining the linkage between the OAS and the IADB, and to present their recommendations to the 35th regular session of the General Assembly of the OAS, considering the need to strengthen interinstitutional and intergovernmental coordination and the region's security and defense systems.

34. They recommend that Member States of the Conference of Ministers of Defense include representatives from the Ministries of Defense in the working group of the Committee on Hemispheric Security on the situation of IADB.

35. They support the commitments undertaken by their Governments at the Special Conference on Security, geared toward revitalizing and strengthening the bodies, institutions, and mechanisms of the inter-American system regarding diverse hemispheric security issues, in order to improve coordination and cooperation among them, within their areas of competence. To promote linkages between the Conference of Defense Ministers of the Americas and the Conferences of the American Armies, Air Force Cooperation Systems of the Americas, and Inter-American Naval Conference.

36. They recognize and support the participation of countries in peace-keeping and disaster relief activities in the hemisphere, specifically highlighting the Multinational Interim Force in Haiti (MIF) and the United Nations Mission to Stabilize Haiti (MINUSTAH), and disaster relief activities in both Haiti and Grenada, both for the solidarity expressed by those countries with the peoples of the region, and because of the importance of such operations for a cooperative approach that they deem is vital for peace-keeping and security in the region.

37. They recognize that it is vital to strengthen cooperation for the implementation of policies formulated by the States to preserve natural, cultural and strategic assets, and large water basins. In this context and in keeping with the reality of each country, they pledge to participate actively in developing management models in which all bodies of the State participate to secure a more efficient implementation of these policies; likewise, they recognize the importance of exchanging information between the countries on this subject.

38. Growing cooperation within defense in science, technology, training, and industry of the Americas contributes to regional security and defense, and social and economic development and encourage all nations to pursue opportunities to increase their cooperation with other countries in the hemisphere.

39. They express solidarity with the people of Colombia, reiterate support to the Colombian government for its efforts against terrorism, and reaffirm their political support for the government of President �lvaro Uribe in its actions aimed at restoring peace, addressing threats to democracy, protecting the public and permitting the enforcement of a democratic security policy in the framework of the respect for the rule of law permitting the effective exercise of human rights, as well as welfare of the population. They recognize in these efforts a contribution to regional security.

40. The Conferences of the Ministers of Defense of the Americas and other consultative fora on security and defense in the hemisphere have become an appropriate forum to promote mutual knowledge, mutual confidence, dialogue, and transparency in security and defense.

41. Their States will continue to support and promote mutual confidence building measures and transparency in military matters, by implementing the Declarations of Santiago, San Salvador, and Miami, which contribute to the hemisphere's stability and strengthen regional cooperation.

42. That continuing with the Conferences of the Ministers of Defense, as a standing multilateral forum, helps consolidate regional security principles, mechanisms, and systems; accordingly, they recommend that the host country be supported by the other countries of the hemisphere in coordination and follow-up activities.

43. The countries that have no Armed Forces accept the concepts and principles of hemispheric security as they apply to the reality of their country and their legal and constitutional framework.

44. They reaffirm the commitments and progress achieved in the Conferences of Defense Ministers of the Americas, and their will to strengthen and enhance the links between the Conferences of Ministers of Defense and the Organization of American States and other multilateral, subregional and bilateral bodies for intergovernmental cooperation, in order to assist in achieving hemispheric security and peace.

45. Their satisfaction at the Republic of Nicaragua's offer to host the Seventh Conference of Ministers of Defense of the Americas in 2006, which was approved unanimously.

46. To extend their sincere thanks to the government and people of Ecuador for their hospitality during the present ministerial meeting.