FOREIGN MINISTER PRAISES OAS, RENEWS COMMITMENT
for the first time at the Organization of American States in Washington
Wednesday morning, Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham
commended the Organization's swift move on urgent measures to fight
lauded the OAS for offering "the first categoric condemnation"
of the September 11 attacks on the United States and negotiating an
Inter-American Convention against Terrorism.
"For Canada, this illustrates that the OAS not only
talks—it acts," Graham told member state representatives at a
special session of the OAS Permanent Council.
spoke as well of the growing importance his country attaches to the
premier hemispheric body of nations, explaining that Canada joined in
1990 as part of "a deliberate plan to intensify relations with the
countries of the Hemisphere and to take part in the dialogue that was
defining both the Organization and the collective will of its member
states." He added
that: "In the past dozen years, the OAS has reached out to member
states in their hour of need—from the smallest to the largest….
We have seen countries turn toward the institutions of the OAS
for assistance on highly sensitive issues—border conflicts, human
rights and crises of democracy."
specific accomplishments that make the OAS "a relevant, integral
and important institution in this Hemisphere," Graham noted that
"Canadians are very pleased with the return on our collective
investment in the OAS." He
cited the Inter-American Democratic Charter, asserting that "no
other region can boast a similar document."
He observed that the document's bold declaration could not be
ignored as it stipulates that "the peoples of the Americas have a
right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote
and defend it."
On the hemispheric Summit mandates, the Canadian Foreign Minister
urged a sustained commitment from all member states.
He said last year's Quebec Summit had established a balanced and
coherent agenda for the hemisphere, grounded in the values of democracy,
economic prosperity, social stability and hemispheric security.
Permanent Council Chairman, Ecuador's Permanent Representative to
the OAS Ambassador Blasco Peñaherrera, presided at the session, which
was attended by Secretary General César Gaviria and Assistant Secretary
General Luigi Einaudi, among other dignitaries.