Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE)Ambassador Francis X. Taylor,
Coordinator for Counterterrorism
Remarks to the OAS General Committee
June 3, 2002
Thank you Madam Chairman for that kind introduction. I very much appreciate the Chair’s offer to brief this important body on the current status and future direction of Inter-American Committee on Terrorism (CICTE). I believe that true hemispheric cooperation in this fight is essential to the success of our combined efforts and the security of our democratic peoples.
After having the opportunity to speak at the First Special Session of CICTE following the events of September 11th, I have maintained close contact with the Chairman, Mr. Steven Monblatt. He has reported to me on the exceptional work done by the representatives of the Member States in the subcommittees led by the distinguished ambassadors of Peru, Colombia, and El Salvador and with the strong support of Argentina as Vice Chair. Their work during the preparations for the Second Regular Session of CICTE in January established a solid foundation for the committee to make concrete the determination of our Foreign Ministers, expressed at their meeting of September 21, to protect our hemisphere from the threat of international terrorism. These efforts, underwritten by generous financial and other donations provided by several Member States and Permanent Observers, have helped launch the hemispheric collaboration necessary for long-term success. I would be remiss not to mention the strong support of the Secretary-General in establishing a CICTE staff with personnel seconded by the Inter-American Defense Board, the United States, El Salvador, and Uruguay. This handful of people is providing the day-to-day effort to execute the CICTE Work Plan.
The signing of the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism marks yet another milestone in our combined efforts to protect our hemisphere from this threat. I am pleased that the United Nations Security Council Counter-Terrorism Committee specifically requested copies of this document to share with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). And I look forward to the states parties to the Convention calling upon CICTE to facilitate their consultations and to use CICTE to further the object and purposes of the Convention.
This is where are we today with CICTE:
- A small secretariat has been established within the OAS headquarters.
- The CICTE web site (www.cicte.oas.org) is now operational. It includes the directory of competent authorities submitted by Member States, as called for in the work plan; key CICTE documents; and links to relevant web sites supplied by Member States, such as the one provided by the Government of Canada on its fight on terrorism and the one by the Government of Argentina related to its ongoing investigation of the bombings of the Israeli Embassy and the Israeli-Argentine Friendship Association in Buenos Aires. I would encourage all Member States to submit comparable pages for linking.
- We have developed and begun testing a secure CICTE database to store the directory of experts on hemispheric counterterrorism issues. This will be searchable in all OAS member languages, by country, topic, and institution, and will ultimately provide Member State professionals and officials a secure, but readily accessible list of experts, documents and best practices in the fight against terrorism.
- CICTE continues to reach out and establish contacts with the Member States, the Observer Missions and other actors in the international effort against terrorism. The Secretary General and Mr. Monblatt, accompanied by the Vice Chair and head of the CICTE sub-committees, had the pleasure of addressing the UN Counter-Terrorism Committee on the efforts undertaken by the OAS. This briefing was very well received and set the mark for regional organizations in the CT arena.
- In addition, the CICTE staff has strengthened the lines of communication with the UN, other regional bodies and other actors in the global efforts against terrorism. CICTE representatives have addressed the combined meeting of CFATF and GAFISUD; CIFTA; the CICAD Group of Experts on Money Laundering; the UN Secretariat; and PAHO among others.
- The first full-time CICTE staff are on board and will soon be joined by and an Executive Director. Voluntary contributions from Member States and Observer States now total nearly $200,000 not counting the value of contributed staff time.
Let me now briefly outline CICTE’s future direction. First of all, we must maintain the momentum of our strong start. Our goals are too important to permit complacency. In the near term, CICTE:
- Must complete the Directory of National Authorities. The staff will be contacting Member States for assistance in this regard in the next few weeks. This step is crucial to establishing the communication links between the key officials which is necessary to ensure rapid response to issues of wide concern.
- Has begun to analyze the specific recommendations to the Member States adopted in January, and will begin to follow up, by identifying specific areas in which CICTE can assist. This assistance may take the form of training, workshops or other formats. Our procedure is to be flexible in approach so that we can quickly respond to Member States’ needs.
- In this regard, I urged those Member States that are still preparing a response to the CICTE Questionnaire to forward their information to the staff as soon as possible, as requested in the General Assembly’s resolution supporting the work of CICTE.
- I would also request that the Member and Observer States forward information on anti-terrorism legislation, terrorism subject matter experts, and best practices in the fight against terrorism to the CICTE Secretariat for inclusion in the Online Database. This can be a major step in leveraging our individual efforts into a global system of security against threats of terrorism. Expertise exists throughout the hemisphere, help us to find it and share it.
- We have begun to look at new training tools, which may enable us to provide computer-based training on specialized topics. If they can be adapted to our needs, they will provide an inexpensive means of delivering effective training to substantially larger numbers of appropriate officials than is now possible.
In closing, I would like to thank you once again for the opportunity to address you on this important issue. I look forward to continued close collaboration with CICTE in the effort to protect our people from the threat of terrorism. We have established a strong foundation. Now is the time to build upon it.
Released on June 3, 2002