The Inter-American Defense Board conducted last Friday the change of command ceremony of the Chair of the Council of Delegates, in which its authorities and those of the Organization of American States (OAS) reiterated their commitment to continue working together to overcome the challenges in defense and security matters currently facing hemisphere.
OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza recognized the Leadership of the outgoing Chair, Lieutenant General Guy Thibault, of the Canadian Armed Forces, and highlighted his role “at a crucial transitional period after the changes of 2006, which meant incorporating the IADB to the structure of the OAS.”
“General Thibault devoted himself to the fulfillment of these functions with decision, looking to define the role of the IADB in the new reality within the General Secretariat, in order to effectively address the security threats of our time,” he said. His work, he continued, occurred in a context of a “peaceful hemisphere, in which armed conflicts among nations have become less probable,” but in which “episodes of natural and human violence” still persist.
The OAS Secretary General commented that the relationship between the IADB and the OAS has been strengthened by “coordinating policy making and the joint participation in the Defense System.” Even so, he stressed the need to having an IADB “reformed and further linked to the political bodies of the OAS, that fulfills the tasks of the permanent Secretariat of the Meeting of Ministers of Defense.” This is a “difficult task to achieve - he continued -, but General Thibault has shown us that it is possible to do through fruitful dialogue.”
In welcoming Lieutenant General Werther Araya, of the Armed Forces of Chile and the new Chair of the IADB, the head of the hemispheric institution offered all the support of the General Secretariat and said that they will work together “in order to make the Inter-American Defense Board stronger as an effective resource of our Organization, able to accommodate multidimensional security tasks that our governments have delegated.”
For his part, General Guy Thibault gave up his mandate following two years in office recalling his experiences, recounting some milestones of its management, and reflecting on the future of the Board. “Despite the fact that this hemisphere is one of the most stable and peaceful regions in the world and that it is, in general terms, free of conflict between States, the sad reality is that many of our citizens live in some of the most insecure and violent cities in the world.”
In his experience, he said, the region needs “to identify a vision that unites nations over how to address the challenges.” He added that the IADB “can and should play a greater role in the Inter-American System, a proactive and respected role in contributing to the development of measures to align our efforts and works in the area of defense and the military in order to foster collaboration and cooperation.”
Lieutenant General Araya assumed his new position thanking the hemispheric defense community “for their trust in the Republic of Chile and in me personally.” He emphasized in this speech “the strategic vision” and the efforts made by General Thibault “that have validated the relevance of the IADB military advisory role.” His tenure leaves us an example of dynamism, proactivity, and leadership to address the complex, current scenarios, generating trust and stimulating collaboration within a framework of diversity, respect, and professional efficiency. At the same time, Lieutenant General Araya reiterated his commitment to join efforts with the Council of Delegates of the IADB and its component agencies for “a successful completion of projects currently being development and optimize the contribution made to the Permanent Council and the Secretary of Multidimensional Security of the OAS.”
On behalf of the Member Countries of the OAS, the Chair of the Permanent Council y representative of Panama, Arturo Vallarino, praised the history and legacy of the IADB, as well as its contribution to the Inter-American System. “It’s been more than 70 years of existence of the Board, during which it has demonstrated its ability, skills, dynamism, and especially its adaptability in identifying needs in defense and security issues.” Ambassador Vallarino also highlighted the leadership of General Thibault for these purposes and welcomed General Werther Araya recalling the need to continue to encourage greater participation of civil servants and diplomats in the activities of the IADB and consolidate the role of the Board in the hemisphere. “We are confident that under his leadership the important work done by the IADB will be fully met, and will be carried out with excellence that has been characterized in his distinguished military career,” he concluded.
The IADB is an entity of the OAS composed of military representatives, designated by Member States to assist in identifying solutions to common defense and security challenges that emerge in the Americas. The IADB provides technical assistance, consultation, and education on topics related to military and security affairs in the region.