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April 19, 1998

The Organization of American States (OAS) today received from the leaders of the hemisphere a range of new responsibilities dealing with education, democracy, human rights, trade, the war on drugs and other areas.

At the close of the Second Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile, the presidents and prime ministers entrusted the OAS with tasks that include:

"The Santiago Plan of Action shows a high level of confidence in the Organization on the part of the nations of the hemisphere," said OAS Secretary General CÚsar Gaviria. "Today's OAS is prepared to take on new tasks, while continuing to fulfill the commitments it has already made to its member states."

In the Declaration of Santiago, the heads of the hemisphere's 34 democracies recognized the importance of the positive role played by hemispheric institutions, particularly the OAS. The Santiago Plan of Action entrusts the Organization with more than 30 mandates - more than double the number following the December 1994 Miami Summit.

The OAS will also support the summit follow-up process. Governments will bear primary responsibility for implementing the summit mandates. The Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG), established by the nations' foreign ministers, will continue to function under the governments' direct authority. The OAS General Secretariat will act as a record-keeping mechanism - the institutional memory of the process - and will provide technical support to the SIRG.

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