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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Releases > Bureau of Political-Military Affairs Fact Sheets > 2003
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Political-Military Affairs
Washington, DC
July 2, 2003

Regional Conferences on Confidence and Security Building Measures (CSBMs)

On June 9, 1995, the 25th OAS [Organization of American States] General Assembly adopted a U.S.-authored resolution instructing the Permanent Council to establish a Committee on Hemispheric Security. The resolution created the region's first permanent forum for the consideration of arms control, nonproliferation, defense, and security issues. Since 1991, the OAS has built an impressive record of achievement in this area, particularly in CSBMs.

In recent years, advances in the establishment and promotion of CSBMs and transparency have strengthened military-to-military relations and decreased historic rivalries and tensions in the Western hemisphere. CSBMs have created mutual trust and cooperative hemispheric security activities between and among the states of the hemisphere.

Since 1994, four significant meetings have built a foundation and aided in the creation of the climate of peace and security that allows the democratic societies of the Western Hemisphere to thrive and prosper. The meetings in Buenos Aires in 1994, Santiago in 1995, San Salvador in 1998, and Miami in 2003 have all contributed to the advancement and institutionalization of CSBMs in the Hemisphere.

The Buenos Aires OAS Governmental Experts' Meeting on CSBMs, March 1994

From March 15-18, 1994, the OAS held a Governmental Experts' Meeting on CSBMs in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The conference consisted of five plenary sessions and two working groups. The first working group developed an illustrative list of CSBMs for the region, and the second working group prepared a final report with recommendations to the OAS Permanent Council.

Representatives from 19 OAS member states participated: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Trinidad and Tobago, the U.S., Uruguay, and Venezuela. In addition, the meeting was attended by a large number of OAS observer states and several non-governmental organizations including Belgium, Germany, Spain, Finland, France, Greece, Hungary, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Inter-American Defense Board, the Woodrow Wilson Center, the City University of New York, and the University of Miami's North-South Center.

Aside from the historic nature itself of the Buenos Aires meeting, the experts developed an illustrative list of CSBMs for countries to consider adopting, as appropriate, on a bilateral, sub-regional and regional level. Working from various delegation papers, the experts agreed on a list of CSBMs, which includes military and non-military measures. This document remains the CSBMs reference document for the hemisphere.

The Santiago Regional Conference on CSBMs, November 1995

In 1992, at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Chile proposed to hold a regional conference on mutual confidence building and security building measures in Latin America. The Conference was endorsed by the 24th OAS General Assembly and by the 34 leaders at the 1994 Summit of the Americas, when they made a call to "support actions to encourage a regional dialogue to promote the strengthening on mutual confidence, preparing the way for a regional conference on CSBMs in 1995, which Chile has offered to host."

The OAS held the regional Conference on CSBMs in Santiago, Chile, from November 8-10, 1995. The Conference consisted of one General Committee, which heard plenary statements, and a Working Group, which prepared the final Declaration for the Conference. Representatives from 23 OAS member states participated: Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, and the United States. In addition, the conference was attended by more than 30 observer states and non-governmental organizations and the Secretary General of the OAS, Honorable Cesar Gaviria Trujillo.

On November 10, 1995, the OAS Conference adopted the "Declaration of Santiago on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures" which, inter alia, contained a program for action for the hemisphere. The declaration called for each country to gradually adopt agreements regarding advance notification of military exercises, participate in the UN Register of Conventional Arms and UN military expenditures reporting, promote exchanges of information concerning defense policies and doctrines, and invite foreign observers to military exercises. At the closing session, El Salvador announced that, if the OAS General Assembly agreed that another high-level CSBMs conference should be held, they would offer to host such a meeting.

The San Salvador Regional Conference on CSBMs, February 1998

On February 25-27, 1998, the OAS held a regional Conference on CSBMs in San Salvador, El Salvador. The Conference consisted of the General Committee, which heard plenary statements, and a Working Group, which prepared the final Declaration for the Conference. El Salvador, as host, was elected President of the Conference, and Chile and Jamaica were elected First Vice-President and Second Vice-President of the Conference, respectively.

Representatives from 27 OAS member states participated: Argentina, Antigua and Barbuda, Bahamas, Belize, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Uruguay, the United States, and Venezuela.

In addition, the Conference was attended by observers representing several states and organizations, including Belgium, Spain, the Russian Federation, France, CARICOM, the Inter-American Defense Board, the Carter Center, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the OAS Secretary General, Honorable Cesar Gaviria Trujillo, and the OAS Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Christopher R. Thomas.

On February 27, 1998, the OAS Conference issued a consensus "Declaration of San Salvador on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures." On a bilateral and multilateral basis the 27 participating countries were able to identify for possible implementation additional CSBMs that complement the 1995 Santiago Declaration. The Declaration states that the governments of the OAS agree to recommend the application of CSBMs, in particular to:

  • Encourage contact and cooperation among legislators including conferences, the exchange of visits, and a meeting of parliamentarians.
  • Extend to diplomatic training institutes, military academies, research centers, and universities, the seminars, courses, and studies envisioned in the Declarations of Santiago and San Salvador.
  • Identify and develop activities promoting cooperation among neighboring countries along their border regions.
  • Promote the exchange of information, inter alia, through the publication of books on defense or official documents on the organization, structure, size, and composition of the armed forces.
  • Encourage the preparation of studies for establishing a common methodology in order to facilitate the comparison of military expenditures in the region, taking into account, inter alia, the United Nations Standardized International Reporting of Military Expenditures.
  • Develop a cooperation program to address the concerns raised by maritime transport of nuclear and other waste.
  • Continue supporting the efforts of the small island states to address their special security concerns, including those of an economic, financial, and environmental nature.
  • Improve and broaden the information submitted by the member states to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.
  • Continue consultations and the exchange of ideas within the hemisphere to advance the limitation and control of conventional weapons in the region.

The Conference and its Final Declaration demonstrated continued momentum in the hemisphere for arms control, in particular CSBMs, as a component of a national security strategy. On a bilateral and multilateral basis the 27 participating countries were able to identify for possible implementation additional CSBMs that complement the 1995 Santiago Declaration. The Conference was also successful in broadening the foundation for a cooperative security approach to include Central America and the Caribbean.

Participating countries recommended several actions to strengthen the OAS Committee on Hemispheric Security -- a regional forum for the discussion of arms control and security -- and called for "a study on revitalizing and strengthening the institutions of the Inter-American system related to the various aspects of hemispheric security, with a view to meeting the challenges of the coming century." Moreover, the region institutionalized dialogues on CSBMs by calling for an annual meeting of experts at the OAS, an inter-parliamentary meeting, and the inclusion of CSBMs themes in the Inter-American Service Chiefs meetings.

Miami Experts Meeting on CSBMS, February 2003

The Plan of Action emanating from the 2001 Quebec City Summit of the Americas mandated the holding of an “experts meeting, prior to the Special Conference on Security, as a follow-up to the regional conferences of Santiago and San Salvador on CSBMs, in order to evaluate implementation and consider next steps to further mutual confidence.” The United States hosted this Meeting in Miami from February 3-4, 2003.

The conference consisted of one General Committee, which heard plenary statements and presentations by various delegations and organizations, and two working groups tasked with drafting the final outcome documents of the conference. The United States, as host of the Meeting, was elected Chair of the General Committee. Chile was elected First Vice-Chair, El Salvador was elected Second Vice-Chair, and Argentina was elected as Rapporteur.

Civilian and military representatives from 30 OAS member states participated: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, the Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago, the United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.

Also participating were several observer states, including Russia and France, as well other international organizations, such as the United Nations and the Inter-American Defense Board. Representatives from a variety of non-governmental organizations were also present, and they held a “Civil Society Forum” after the conference proceedings on February 3 that discussed the role of civil society in defense budget transparency.

The Conference issued two final outcome documents: the “Consensus of Miami--Declaration by the Experts on CSBMs: Recommendations to the Summit-mandated Special Conference on Security" and the “Miami Group of Experts Illustrative List of CSBMs for Countries to Consider Adopting on a Bilateral, Sub-Regional, or Regional Level.”

The adoption of these documents marked major successes for the Conference. Both of these documents will provide a practical roadmap for resolving interstate border tensions, lowering pressure for arms spending, promoting democratic norms, and fostering a climate of trust, transparency, and cooperation in Hemisphere over the next. In addition, the Conference recommended permanently institutionalizing the CSBMs process by the creation of the Forum for Confidence and Security Building Measures to discuss and advance CSBMs.

More specifically, the “Declaration” recommended the voluntary application of 35 military and general measures by OAS member states. The “Illustrative List” expanded on the measures contained in the “Declaration” by providing a catalog of 53 specific political, diplomatic, military, educational, cultural, and other measures that states of the region can draw upon as they seek to improve ties and build confidence with their neighbors.

The CSBMs developed by the previous conferences (Buenos Aires, 1994; Santiago, 1995; San Salvador, 1998) strengthened regional military-to-military relations, reduced inter-state tensions, and fostered cooperation and security among the democratic states of the region. The results of the Miami Meeting of Experts built on this progress by recommending bold, new measures. It also furthered the expansion and institutionalization of the CSBMs endorsed by the previous conferences, and contributed directly to the May 2003 Summit-mandated Special Conference on Security. This Special Conference will be the culmination of a comprehensive review and revitalization of the region’s security institutions.

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