Inauguration of Luis Almagro as OAS General Secretary
Washington, D.C., May 26, 2015
The Secretary General of the hemispheric institution announced he will work with all the countries of the region "without exception" and expressed his conviction that "it is time to put an end to unnecessary fragmentations. Beginning on May 26, as Secretary General of the OAS, my efforts will be focused on making the Organization a useful tool in the interests of all the peoples of the Americas, wherever they are from," he said.
Luis Almagro Lemes was elected Secretary General of the Organization of American States on March 18, 2015, with the unanimous support of 33 of 34 member states, and one abstention. Upon taking leadership of the OAS, he announced that one of the central themes of his mandate will be “more rights for more people,” and that he would work to bring the Organization closer to the new realities in the Hemisphere and contribute to ensuring more democracy, security and prosperity for all.
A career diplomat, Almagro was Foreign Minister of Uruguay from 2010 to March 1, 2015, and has extensive regional and international experience. In addition, he was elected Senator in the national elections in Uruguay in October 2014.
His time at the head of Uruguayan diplomacy was characterized by activism in defense of human and civil rights at the regional and global level, the insertion of Uruguay into non-traditional markets, the diversification of these markets, and the strengthening of the image of Uruguay as a democratic, fair, tolerant, and diverse society, with ever increasing rights for more Uruguayans.
As Foreign Minister for President José Mujíca, he defined several emblematic initiatives that put the small South American country on the global map, from receiving former prisoners from Guantanamo, to welcoming dozens of Syrian families who had been victims of the country´s conflict, to building support in the United Nations so that, beginning in 2016, Uruguay will become part of the Security Council.
Moreover, Uruguay has maintained its presence in Haiti to ensure the continuity of the process of reconstruction in the country following the devastating earthquake of 2010.
Knowledgeable about the new regional alignments, Almagro was an active participant in the consolidation of UNASUR and CELAC and as member of the special UNASUR delegation to Venezuela in 2014 he was recognized as an advocate of dialogue between the government and the opposition to stop the violence at that moment.
As a consensus builder in the region and at the same time a driver of new initiatives, during his term at the head of the country´s diplomacy, he achieved the long-desired entry of citrus products into the United States, a key market for the sector, while moving forward with bilateral cooperation programs in areas of scientific-technical innovation.
For its part, Uruguay developed specific programs of cooperation for development with Bolivia, Paraguay, and several African nations in the context of the vision of international solidarity that characterized the term of the former Foreign Minister.
The candidate for Secretary General of the OAS was also Ambassador to China for five years, after occupying senior diplomatic posts in the Foreign Ministry of his country, and in the Embassies of Uruguay in Germany and Iran.
In 2014 Foreign Policy magazine named him a Leading Global Thinker, one of ten decision-makers in the world who have been granted this international distinction.
Almagro, a lawyer by profession, is married and has seven children. In addition to Spanish, he speaks English and French.