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March 5, 2007

The Organization of American States (OAS) will bring together experts from government and civil society to discuss national and regional strategies for mitigating the threats associated with weapons known as Man Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS). The special meeting of the Committee on Hemispheric Security will take place on Thursday, March 8, at OAS headquarters in Washington.

MANPADS are short-range surface-to-air missiles that can be carried and fired by a single individual. Because they are easily concealed and transported, such weapons are attractive to terrorists, criminals and other non-state actors and thereby pose a unique and significant threat to the international community, particularly to international civil aviation. Although precise numbers are difficult to obtain, it is believed that 500,000 MANPADS are in existence in the world today, thousands of them illegally.

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the global forum for civil aviation, in 2004 called on the international community to enact measures to ensure and maintain effective physical security and management of MANPADS stockpiles. In response, the OAS General Assembly approved a resolution urging member states to, among other things, adopt and maintain strict national controls and security measures on MANPADS, ban their transfers to non-state end users and destroy excess stockpiles.

This special meeting has been convoked to increase awareness of this threat, as well as to promote mitigation strategies that can be implemented by governments of the region. Speakers at the event will include representatives from the ICAO, United Kingdom Ministry of Defense, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the Federation of American Scientists.

A special mobile exhibit will also be on display on C Street, to the side of the main OAS building, on the day of the meeting. Experts from the U.S. Department of Defense will be on hand to answer questions concerning the display, which will include actual MANPADS and information on how they work.

WHAT: Special meeting on “Effective Strategies to Mitigate the Threat Posed by the Use of Man Portable Air Defense Systems (MANPADS)”

WHEN: Thursday, March 8
9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

WHERE: Simón Bolívar Room
OAS Main Building
17th Street & Constitution Ave., NW
Washington, DC 20006

Reference: AVI-017/07

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