The countries of the Americas have identified the development and sharing of national Defense White Papers as a useful confidence- and security-building measure for the promotion of security in the Hemisphere. This paper is intended to provide a brief outline of essential characteristics of Defense White Papers and to explain the rationale and the process for their development. A listing of elements commonly contained in White Papers is also provided.
It is important to note that there is no agreed standard format for White Papers in the Americas. This is perhaps a logical reflection of the differing historical, geographical, cultural, political and fiscal contexts in which the countries of the Americas define their security threats and defense objectives, capabilities and constraints. However, there are elements which are common to many White Papers. This paper focuses on basic principles and raises issues that Governments could usefully consider in the formulation of their own White Papers, based on the experience of OAS Member States which have already undertaken that process.