September 11, 2001 : Attack on America
Statement by Ambassador Roger Noriega OAS Permanent Council; September 19, 2001

Statement by Ambassador Roger Noriega
OAS Permanent Council

September 19, 2001

Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Let me begin by thanking the governments and peoples of the Americas for their countless messages of solidarity and support in the wake of the terrible events of September 11. Only hours after the first of these heinous, cowardly attacks, the Foreign Ministers of the Hemisphere, meeting in Lima, called for greater cooperation to combat the scourge of terrorism.

I also wish to express my condolences to the distinguished ambassadors represented around this table for the hundreds of their fellow citizens who perished on that day. The "World Trade Center" as its name implies -- indeed brought together the people of many nations. The criminals who snuffed out their lives understand this. Their attack was directed not just at the United States but at the core values all our societies hold dear: democracy, freedom, toleration, and respect for others.

It is, therefore, entirely appropriate that the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States meets today -- and our foreign ministers meet on Friday -- to adopt measures to defend our freedom and security from the threat of terrorism. We strongly support the adoption of the two resolutions presented to the Permanent Council today, as well as the convocation of meetings of foreign ministers under the OAS Charter and the Rio Treaty to mandate that governments commit to additional specific measures. By invoking the Rio Treaty in particular, we recognize -- and send a strong message to the terrorists -- that in our democratic Hemisphere, an attack against one is an attack against all. We also recognize our inescapable obligation and immutable political will to contribute to the common defense against threats to peace and security of the Americas.

For its part, the United States will use every tool, every weapon, to pursue and punish those responsible for the despicable acts of September 11 and those who shelter and support them. The energy of our nation and our people is focused on that task.

But the challenge is not ours alone. As President Bush stated on the day of the tragic attacks: "America and our friends and allies join with all those who want peace and security in the world, and we stand together to win the war against terrorism."

Today, the nations of the Americas stand ready to meet that challenge. There are many useful tools for doing this -- embodied both in the OAS Charter and in the Rio Treaty. Over the next few days, all of these resources will be invoked, through diplomacy, law enforcement, international cooperation, long-term institution-building and all other means necessary to pursue and punish the perpetrators of these acts and to fortify ourselves against the scourge of terrorism.

In recent months, leading to a triumphant meeting in Lima, we stood shoulder-to-shoulder in crafting a bold charter proclaiming democracy as a right of our people and a cornerstone of our societies. In that spirit of solidarity and resolve, we will move decisively against the forces of terrorism, that despise democracy and the fundamental values our people cherish.

We thank the democracies of the Americas for sanding together with us today.

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