OAS Authorities

Luis Almagro Lemes


Luis Almagro

Secretary General

Luis Almagro was elected Secretary General of the OAS on March 18, 2015, with the unanimous support of 33 of the 34 member states and one abstention. Upon taking up the leadership of the OAS, he announced that the central theme of his administration would be “more rights for more people” and that he would work “to be the voice of the voiceless.” His priority at the helm of the General Secretariat is to put the Organization in touch with people’s needs and the new realities in the Hemisphere, as well as helping to ensure greater democracy, more security, and more development and prosperity for all.

As Secretary General, Almagro has prioritized defense of democracy and human rights in his daily work and has not hesitated to speak out when democracy and human rights are being trampled, as in the case of Venezuela, where he pressed for the enforcement of the Inter-American Democratic Charter (IADC), the “Constitution of the Americas,” as he calls it. He is the first OAS Secretary General to have invoked Article 20 of the IADC.

Pursuing a type of multilateral diplomacy predicated on principles, Almagro has also played an instrumental role in the search for solutions to the crisis in Nicaragua; he has put the struggle to restore democracy in Cuba at the very top of the regional agenda; he has increased OAS support for the Mission to Support the Peace Process (MAPP) in Colombia; he drove the creation of the Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH), the first OAS mission of its kind; and he reinvigorated and expanded the OAS electoral observation missions, with the first-time deployment of missions in such countries as the USA and Brazil. Almagro also played a key role in ensuring elections in Haiti, mediated in the migrant crisis between the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and deepened diplomatic efforts in the territorial differendum between Belize and Guatemala in relation to the Adjacency Zone, among other initiatives.

After announcing his intention of hauling the OAS into the 21st century, he transformed and modernized the Organization’s communications policy, bringing it closer to the citizens of the Hemisphere by giving it a more proactive presence on social media platforms. By mid-2017 the official OAS accounts had over 1 million followers. According to Twiplomacy, the Secretary General is the most followed leader of an international organization.

A career diplomat, he has extensive regional and international experience. Almagro was his country’s foreign minister from March 1, 2010 to March 1, 2015. Under his tenure, Uruguay set new records for exports year after year. He also defined several landmark initiatives of President José Mujíca’s government that put the country on the global map. Uruguay decided to take in former prisoners from Guantanamo, granted asylum to dozens of Syrian families who were victims of their country’s civil war, and secured the endorsement of GRULAC for its election to a seat on the United Nations Security Council in January 2016.

Almagro was also ambassador to China for five years, after occupying senior diplomatic posts in his country’s foreign ministry and at its embassies in Germany and Iran.

In addition, he was elected as a senator in Uruguay’s national elections in October 2014.

Almagro is a lawyer by profession and has seven children. Apart from Spanish, he speaks English and French.

 

 

Nestor Mendez


Embajador Nestor Mendez

Assistant Secretary General

Nestor Mendez was elected to be the ninth Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS) on March 18, 2015. He began serving his five-year term on July 13, 2015 with a commitment to work closely with the Secretary General and the member states to reinvigorate and modernize the institution.

The Assistant Secretary General based his platform on five main thematic areas: improving regional inter-connectivity; fostering economic growth, addressing the impacts of climate change and natural disasters; promoting partnerships for development, and working to empower and respond to the needs of the youth across the hemisphere. 

Upon receiving the mandate from member states, he pledged his “unwavering commitment to seize the opportunity that is before us to work together to transform the OAS into the Organization that we want and that the people of the Americas deserve.”     

Prior to his election, Nestor Mendez was a career diplomat in the Foreign Service of Belize. He served as the Ambassador to the United States of America, Permanent Representative to the OAS, and Non-Resident High Commissioner to Canada.

As Ambassador of Belize to the United States, he travelled throughout the country to engage with the Belizean Diaspora and to meet with prospective investors and companies interested in investing in Belize.  He also focused on a wide range of development issues pertaining to the Caribbean and Central America such as alternative sources of energy, micro, small and medium sized enterprises, trade and investment promotion, and security.

During his tenure as Permanent Representative of Belize to the OAS, Ambassador Mendez chaired several Councils and Committees of the organization including the Permanent Council, the Committee on Hemispheric Security, the Special Committee for Migration Issues, and the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI) where he focused on matters related to innovation, competitiveness, and supporting micro, small and medium sized enterprises as engines for economic growth and development. As Chair of the OAS Permanent Council, he used this platform to focus attention on climate change and introduced several institutional initiatives to increase awareness of the impact of this phenomenon, especially on the smaller and more vulnerable states.

Ambassador Mendez previously held diplomatic posts at the High Commission for Belize in London, United Kingdom where he served as Counsellor and at the Embassy of Belize in Guatemala where served as First Secretary. 

He holds a Master’s Degree in International Policy and Practice from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., a Graduate Level Certificate in Diplomatic Studies from Oxford University in Oxford, United Kingdom, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Administration from the University College of Belize in Belize City, Belize. 

He is married and has two children.