Minister of Foreign Affairs Celso Lafer
Address on Inter-America Treaty on Reciprocal Aid Application
Washington, D.C.
September 21, 2001

We now stand confronted with a direct threat to the security of the hemisphere. It is not just a matter of extending our condolences or offering words of consolation to a friendly country hit by tragic events. The United States was not the only country to suffer from the terrorist attacks of 11 September. We all felt attacked. We were all hit. The world is not the same since that Tuesday morning. Our hemisphere is no longer what it was.

With full support of the other member States, my country - Brazil - has taken the initiative of invoking the Inter-American Treaty on Reciprocal Aid, because the exceptional gravity of the attacks, and the discussion of their consequences, justify resorting to our hemispheric collective-security mechanism.

These five decades and more since the signing of TIAR have not diminished its validity. Here I recall the lesson of the then Brazilian Chancellor, San Tiago Dantas, at the 1962 meeting of the Treaty advisory body, when he commented that the vitality of the inter-American system lies in "the capacity to settle and overcome problems through constructive solutions out of a communion of ideas and a joining together of forces to reach an objective that is shared by all."

Today, the invocation of TIAR reflects that communion of ideas. The objective shared by all is the intensification of hemispheric cooperation to fight the terrorist threat, the determination to go beyond words, the action of solidarity in order to ensure truth and justice.

In October, 1962 TIAR was invoked to keep the threat of nuclear missiles out of the hemisphere. The threat against which we now stand united is international terrorism.

The supreme forum for multilateral decision, the Security Council of the General Assembly of the United Nations, with complete support of Brazil, has manifested itself on the matter of the attacks on 11 September.

On a regional level, TIAR affords us the proper legal space for open discussion and definition of common lines of action. Not for a war to be imposed – the Treaty itself stipulates that no State will be obliged to use its armed forces without its consent – but in order to allow each one of our countries, within its own capacity and the means that are available, to find the best way of contributing towards the common effort in combating terrorism, those responsible for it and those who lend it shelter and support.

Not only in order to reiterate our hemispheric solidarity in the face of the criminal aggression that one of our countries has suffered, but also to guarantee that the countries of the Americas, in the fight against external threats, will always respect the shared values that are the very foundations of the inter-American system: democracy, diversity, tolerance, human rights, repudiation of racism and xenophobia, respect for individual freedom and the intrinsic value of human life.

Repudiation of terrorism, together with repudiation of racism, lies enshrined in the Brazilian Constitution as one of the principles that rule our country's international relations.

On renewing our absolute solidarity with the people and government of the United States in this hour of distress, Brazil is convinced that the rulings of this body of consultation will contribute to guide with wisdom and prudence the concerted efforts of our countries towards ridding the Americas of the threat of terrorism, and so draw closer to our common objectives of security and peace in the hemisphere.

Thank you very much.