CHDS 5th Sub-Regional Conference Ends on High Note of Cooperation
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12 Aug 2009

The Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies concluded its 5th Sub-Regional Conference (SRC) in Cartagena, Colombia on July 31. The theme of this year’s SRC was the “Challenges in Security and Defense in a Complex Political Environment: Prospects for Cooperation and Divergence in South America.” The conference drew a total of 150 participants from 20 regional nations, USA, Spain, and three partner institutes. They included government officials, NGO representatives, analysts, and academics with extensive experience in defense and security issues, and included numerous CHDS alumni and former guest lecturers.

In addition, 45 papers were presented at the conference, written on one of three thematic areas: Political Change and International Institutions; National Defense and Security Policies; and Dynamic Security Drivers. These thematic areas were discussed in breakout group discussion panels. Four major themes served as the focus of the discussion:

  • The South American Defense Council
  • The Erosion of Democratic Institutions
  • Extra-regional Actors, and
  • US Policy toward Latin America under President Obama.

To provide additional depth and perspectives three regional partner institutes organized separate discussion panels for the conference. The Security and Defense Network of Latin America (RESDAL), the National Academy for Political and Strategic Studies of Chile (ANEPE) and the Colombian War College (ESDEG).

In remarks closing the conference, CHDS Director Dr. Richard D. Downie cited American scholar William Arthur Ward, who once noted: “Leadership is based on inspiration, not domination; on cooperation, not intimidation.” Downie followed up by adding, “More recently, perhaps President Obama said it best when he was at the Summit of the Americas, where he declared: ‘I have a lot to learn and I very much look forward to listening and figuring out how we can work together more effectively.'”

CHDS was also honored to have a series of distinguished guest speakers. Dr. Joseph S. Tulchin, senior scholar at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, spoke before the first panel discussions. The following day, Dr. Gonzalo Garcia Pino, Chilean Under Secretary of Defense, also gave a presentation. On the last day CHDS was honored to have US Ambassador Jeffrey Davidow, president of the Institute of the Americas, as guest speaker during the closing lunch.