October 9, 1998
In order to initiate a process for discussing the OAS General Assembly mandate for greater transparency on weapons procurement in the hemisphere, the United States and Brazil presented a joint proposal to other OAS member states on a convention for transparency in arms acquisitions. On October 6, 1998, the OAS Committee on Hemispheric Security voted unanimously to establish a formal working group to negotiate the language of this convention. The establishment of this working group brings to fruition two years of intense consultations by ACDA, the State Department and Brazil to implement a concrete Confidence and Security Building Measure (CSBM) in the region.
On June 5, 1997, the OASGA meeting in Lima, Peru adopted a significant resolution on transparency in conventional arms acquisitions (AG/RES. 1500 XXVII-0/97). The resolution resolves that the OAS consider the desirability of approving a legal framework on the issue of advance notification of major arms acquisitions covered by the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms (The UN Register is an annual report by member states on their arms imports and exports of seven categories of weapons -- battle tanks, armored combat vehicles, large caliber artillery, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, and missiles and missile launchers). This OAS mandate was renewed at the June 1998 Caracas General Assembly (AG/RES. 1570 XXVIII-0/98).
In recent years, advances in the establishment and promotion of CSBMs and transparency in the region have strengthened military-to-military relations and decreased historic rivalries and tensions in the western hemisphere. Further progress on CSBMs will contribute to creating a regional environment that allows democratic governments to maintain and modernize defense forces without triggering suspicions from their neighbors or leading to an arms race.
In 1994, under the auspices of the Organization of American States, a CSBMs experts meeting was held in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Chile hosted a successful Vice-Ministerial Conference on CSBMs in November 1995 which led to the adoption of the Declaration of Santiago. The Declaration of Santiago provides, inter alia, that each country gradually adopt agreements regarding advance notification of military exercises; exchange information; participate in the U.N. Registers of Conventional Arms and Military Expenditures; promote exchanges of information concerning defense policies and doctrines; and invite foreign observers to military exercises.
A follow-on ministerial on CSBMs to Santiago was held in El Salvador in 1998. On February 27, 1998, the OAS Conference issued a consensus "Declaration of San Salvador on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures." Participating countries identified CSBMs that complement the 1995 Santiago Declaration. The Declaration recommended the application of CSBMs such as: a meeting of parliamentarians; teaching the application of CSBMs; cooperation among neighboring countries; promoting the exchange of information on the organization, structure, size, and composition of the armed forces; supporting the efforts of the small island states to address their special security concerns; and providing additional information to the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms.
The Declarations of Santiago and San Salvador on CSBMs are important watersheds in building Inter-American cooperative efforts to build further confidence in the Americas. Today the Americas face the challenge of finding specific ways to enhance openness and transparency. Within an environment of future modernization efforts by countries, CSBMs and increased transparency will be essential to maintaining regional confidence and stability.
The transparency arrangement foreseen in the OAS General Assembly Resolutions would make it easier for countries in the region to evaluate their security situation, as far as it is related to arms procurement by other countries. Such a measure would create an environment even more conducive to trust, confidence, and mutual restraint. Transparency in arms acquisition would also make it possible to devote maximum resources to the economic and social development of OAS member states, one of the basic purposes of the OAS Charter.
Twenty-Seventh Regular Session
The General Assembly,
RECALLING ITS COMMITMENTS IN RESOLUTION AG/RES. 1179 (XXII-0/92) TO: