II Conference of Ministers of Defense of the Americas
CONCLUSIONS OF GROUP I
NEW DIMENSION OF THE 1NTERNAT1ONAL SECURITY
1. DEFENSE IN THE XXI CENTURY - ROLE OF THE ARMED FORCES
One of the main challenges for the promotion of development and stability in the forthcoming century is the consolidation of democracy.
Within this context, the delegations analyzed the roles of the Armed Forces.
They shared the view that the main role of the Armed Forces continues to be the defense of the national sovereignty.
Likewise, the delegates exchange view points about the important supplementary roles that the Armed Forces play in each country, according to the different political, social, economic and military realities and circumstances.
It was agreed upon that the Armed Forces should perform their functions according to the legal framework established in their respective Constitutions.
The delegations highlighted that the transparency and the measures taken to foster mutual trust are important tools in the strengthening of the hemispheric cooperation regarding defense and security matters.
2. RISKS, THREATS AND OPPORTUNITIES: A DISCUSSION OF DIFFERENT PERCEPTIONS ABOUT DEFENSE AND SECURITY IN THE CONTINENT
The end of the Cold War has created new opportunities of bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the economic, political and military areas.
Considering the atmosphere of the post-Cold War, the delegations discussed tile threats and opportunities in the current changing international context.
Together with the reduction of the old threats, the countries of the hemisphere are facing new risks and threats of diverse nature: among others, increasing unemployment.. marginality of great sectors of the population, drug-trafficking, terrorism in its diverse modalities, organized crime and tile violations of the human rights, including the ethnic, religious and political discrimination were discussed.
With out invalidating the previous remark, this does not mean that the new threats should be faced and eliminated from a strictly military perspective.
According to their own experience, the delegations gave examples of comprehensive solutions to old problems.
In relation with one of the new threats, the delegation of Panama handed out a report.
3. THE INFLUENCE OF THE ECONOMIC INTEGRATION PROCESSES IN THE DEFENSE
The integration processes increased in this post-Cold War period and new opportunities of cooperation have sprung up.
The delegations agreed upon the fact that such processes have increased the mutual benefits. In this sense, the different forms of cooperation make it possible to find joint solutions to common problems.
This bilateral and multilateral spirit of cooperation has made it easy to settle old scores between countries of the region by means of bilateral or multilateral agreements.
The example of the European cooperation was presented as a case of integration brought about by a common military threat. This cooperation in the military field favored wide cooperation in the political and economic aspects.
There was coincidence in acknowledging that there are diverse models of integration that must be interpreted according to the specific situations.
The regional and subregional gatherings should not be seen as closed blocs that seek to affect third parties.
Examples of integration in the hemisphere, such as Mercosur, the Andes Agreement, the system of Central American Integration and CARICOM were provided.
The various examples mentioned before reveal the importance of a horizontal cooperation between countries with different levels of development. The features of each group set tile rhythms and progression of such processes.
The delegations coincided that integration does not oppose the existence and roles of the Armed forces.On the contrary, the process of integration contributes to improving and perfecting those roles.
4. MILITARY COOPERATION
The discussion about military cooperation allowed us to distinguish three different interrelated levels:
11. military and strategic
111. exchange of services
Various examples of currrent military cooperation were provided for each of these levels: combined military drills, exchange of information, delivery of reports and other issues of logistics, which contribute to the strengthening of the mutual security.
It was agreed upon the convenience of driving the exchanges of operations for peacekeeping, science, technology and others.
The process of strengthening democracies demand the Armed Forces to create transparent and open relationships with their societies.
The fostering of greater cooperation concerning the issue of visits, and of the exchange of personnel and information was demanded, as well as the assistance in case of emergency and of environmental protection..
The expansion of bilateral and multilateral military cooperation should not lead to the "militarization" while tackling those threats that, due to their nature, can be faced by different means.[Hemispheric Security/tracker.htm]