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ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES

XXVIII General Assembly
Caracas, Venezuela


OAS GENERAL ASSEMBLY CONDEMNS NUCLEAR TESTS

June 3, 1998.                                                                                                                                     Caracas, Venezuela

he General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) today condemned the recent nuclear tests carried out by the governments of India and Pakistan, and firmly urged both countries to refrain from further such testing.

The resolution, approved in the General Assembly´s final plenary session, states that the nuclear tests "jeopardize the regime on non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the maintenance of which is indispensable for international peace and security." It also urges all countries, particular those of South Asia, "to exercise maximum restraint and refrain from further nuclear testing."

The resolution reaffirms the commitment of all OAS member countries to work toward universal adherence to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation on Nuclear Weapons and to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and its early entry into force, "considering these essential elements to avoid the proliferation of nuclear weapons and as a means of promoting nuclear disarmament."

In another of several resolutions approved during Wednesday´s session, the General Assembly decided to establish a joint working group of the Permanent Council and the Inter-American Council for Integral Development "for the purpose of identifying the aspects with regard to which it is necessary to foster and intensify the process of strengthening and modernizing the OAS by defining strategies, procedures, and concrete actions with a view to promoting a comprehensive renewal of the inter-American system."

The heads of delegation also agreed to convene a meeting of experts from member states to design a draft program of education for peace in the hemisphere, recalling the "laudable initiative" taken by Bolivia to draft such a program as a means to promote confidence and security in the region. The creation of the draft program will take into account contributions from UNESCO and other pertinent institutions, including the Inter-American Defense College.

Another resolution approved in the final plenary session refers to the situation of refugees, returnees and displaced persons in the Americas. It urges governments "to continue ensuring the observance of the fundamental principles and norms of international.

refugee protection, and specifically the respect of the principle of non-refoulement, the right of refugees to seek and receive protection and refuge within the existing legal framework in each member state, as well as the right to return voluntarily to the country of origin or the country of permanent residence."

The General Assembly also approved a resolution designed to promote dialogue among legislative leaders through a parliamentary network of the Americas, with the goal of increasing participation by civil society in public issues. The OAS General Secretariat was instructed to facilitate parliamentary dialogue as appropriate, and parliamentarians of the hemisphere were encouraged "to support the process of regional integration at all levels for the improvement of political, economic, social and cultural conditions of the populations which they represent."

The General Assembly also reiterated its support for the work that "ombudsmen, defenders of the people, defenders of the population, human rights attorneys and human rights commissioners" have been carrying out in the hemisphere, noting that such work "is essential to strengthening representative democracy, justice, human rights and governability."

In other business, the General Assembly elected three new members of the Inter-American Juridical Committee: Sergio González Gálvez, Mexico (27 votes); Joao Granadino Rodas, Brazil (22 votes); and Orlando Rubén Rebagliatti, Argentina (20 votes). Víctor Caso Lay, of Peru, was elected by acclamation as member of the Board of External Auditors, and Lionel Alain Dupuis, of Canada, was elected by acclamation as member of the Administrative Tribunal.

The General Assembly approved the entry of Antigua and Barbuda, and Saint Kitts and Nevis, as new members of the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD). The Assembly also accepted the offers of Costa Rica and Barbados to serve as host countries for the OAS General Assembly in 2001 and 2002, respectively. The annual meeting will be held in Guatemala next year and in Canada in the year 2000.

Shortly before the closing ceremony, the heads of delegation approved a Declaration on Guyana, urging all political parties in that country to accept the results of an audit related to Guyana´s general and regional elections held last December. The audit was conducted under an agreement negotiated by the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) between the government and the main opposition party, after the opposition rejected the election results declared by the Electoral Commission.

Venezuelan Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Burelli Rivas, who chaired this year´s General Assembly, formally closed the three-day session early this afternoon.

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