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U.S. Department of State

April 7, 1998


February 25-27, 1998
San Salvador, El Salvador

The Organization of American States (OAS) held a regional Conference on CSBMs in San Salvador, El Salvador, on February 25-27, 1998. The U.S. delegation was led by U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Deputy Director Ralph Earle II, with U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS Ambassador Victor Marrero, and Department of State, Bureau of Inter-American Affairs Deputy Assistant Secretary of State John Hamilton. Also on the delegation were regional and arms control experts from the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, National Security Council, Department of State, Department of Defense, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Southern Command and a representative from the Cooperative Monitoring Center.

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

Participants in the Conference were: 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, Russian Federation, France, CARICOM, the Inter-American Defense Board, the Carter Center, 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 June 9, 1995, the 25th OAS 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, 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.

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 nongovernmental 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 nonmilitary measures. This document remains the CSBMs reference document for the hemisphere.

The Santiago 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 Summit of the Americas, when they called for "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 among them were: 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 U.N. 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 be held, they would offer to host such a meeting.

The San Salvador Final Declaration--An Action Plan of CSBMs For The Region

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.