Message to the Senate
Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism
November 12, 2002
With a view to receiving the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification,
I transmit herewith, the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism, adopted
at the Thirty-Second Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly meeting in
Bridgetown, Barbados, on June 3, 2002, and opened for signature on that date.
At that time it was signed by 30 of the 33 members attending the meeting, including
the United States. It has subsequently been signed by another two member states,
leaving only two states that have not yet signed. In addition, I transmit herewith,
for the information of the Senate, the report of the Department of State.
The negotiation of the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism (the "Convention")
was a direct response to the terrorist attacks on the United States on September
11, 2001. At that time, the OAS was meeting in Lima, Peru, to adopt a Democratic
Charter uniting all 34 democracies in the hemisphere. The OAS member states
expressed their strong commitment to assist the United States in preventing
such incidents from occurring again anywhere in our hemisphere. Within 10 days,
the foreign ministers of the OAS member states, meeting in Washington, D.C.,
endorsed the idea of drafting a regional convention against terrorism. Argentina,
Peru, Chile, and Mexico played particularly important roles in the development
and negotiation of the Convention.
The Convention will advance important United States Government interests and
enhance hemispheric security by improving regional cooperation in the fight
against terrorism. The forms of enhanced cooperation include exchanges of information,
exchanges of experience and training, technical cooperation, and mutual legal
assistance. The Convention is consistent with, and builds upon, previous counterterrorism
instruments and U.N. Security Council Resolution 1373, which mandates certain
measures to combat terrorism.
The Convention provides for regional use of a variety of legal tools that have
proven effective against terrorism and transnational organized crime in recent
years. Since fighting terrorist financing has been identified as an essential
part of the fight against terrorism, the Convention addresses crucial financial
regulatory, as well as criminal law, aspects. Existing Federal authority is
sufficient to discharge the obligations of the United States under this Convention,
and therefore no implementing legislation will be required.
In particular, the Convention mandates the establishment of financial intelligence
units for the collection, analysis, and dissemination of terrorist financing
information and the establishment and enhancement of channels of communication
between law enforcement authorities for secure and rapid exchange of information
concerning all aspects of terrorist offenses; the exchange of information to
improve border and customs control measures to detect and prevent movement of
terrorists and terrorist-related materials; and technical cooperation and training
The Convention also provides measures relating to the denial of refugee or asylum
status. In addition, the Convention provides that terrorist acts may not be
considered "political" offenses for which extradition or mutual legal
assistance requests can be denied, and provides for other mechanisms to facilitate
mutual legal assistance in criminal matters.
In sum, the Convention is in the interests of the United States and represents
an important step in the fight against terrorism. I therefore recommend that
the Senate give prompt and favorable consideration to the Convention, subject
to the understandings that are described in the accompanying report of the Department
of State, and give its advice and consent to ratification.