Assistant Secretary General Speech


February 11, 2016 - Washington, DC

Thank you Dean Yassky for your kind introduction

Stephen J. Friedman, President, Pace University

Justice Antonio Herman Benjamin, Chair of the World Commission on Environmental Law of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN)

David Yassky, Dean, Pace University School of Law

Professor Nicholas A. Robinson, Governor of the International Council of Environmental Law (ICEL)

Christian and Liliane Hauub

H.E. Luiz Alberto Figueiredo Machado, Ambassador of Brazil to the United States

Chief Justices, Ambassadors and Representatives to the OAS, colleagues and friends:

It is an honor to welcome you to the House of the Americas, the OAS, and the Hall of Heroes, which seems very appropriate for this occasion in which Ambassador Figueiredo, Ambassador of Brazil to the United States, is being recognized for his contribution to international environmental law.

I would first like to thank Pace University School of Law and the International Council for Environmental Law (ICEL), for allowing the OAS to be a part of this ceremony. It is no coincidence that this award ceremony is being held at the OAS. As you know, the OAS is the world’s oldest International Organization and was founded on the basic principles of fostering peace and security in the hemisphere, consolidating democracy and human rights for all, and advancing economic development and prosperity throughout.

While we are proud to say that the Americas is still predominantly a peaceful zone, in the past decade, the region has experienced an increase in environmental conflict due to competition for natural resources. In this context, the OAS will continue to draw on its decades-long experience in confidence building through articulating and supporting programs that foster cooperation at all levels in the use and management of natural resources and establishing a system of conflict prevention, especially for those conflicts that impact not only the environment but the people that benefit from its bounty. It is my hope that this system contributes to and enhances more rights for more people in the Americas.

We also know that sound natural resources management is closely related with international law. It is the framework that guides our actions and policies. Furthermore, we have come to learn that the only way to solve environmental problems is to seek cross-sectional collaboration in some cases cross border cooperation among a broad range of stakeholders which include community leaders, elected officials, legislative bodies, and academia. Some of the most successful cases of natural resources management have been borne from this exact community-based approach.

That is why the research conducted at academic institutions like the Pace University School of Law and the International Council of Environmental Law is indispensable in strengthening existing environmental legal frameworks or identifying new approaches that lead to paradigm shifts in the way we perceive these issues. By extension, this has practical value for those most affected.

The field of diplomacy offers a fertile ground for practitioners to advance these approaches and ideas. Ambassador Figueiredo is certainly one of those practitioners who, in his numerous capacities, has used his expertise to contribute to positive development in international environmental policy. Aprovecho la oportunidad para reiterarle mis felicitaciones.

I commend the efforts of Pace University School of Law and the International Council of Environmental Law for having created the Elizabeth Haub Award for Environmental Policy, one of the most distinguished environmental awards in the world. The legacy of Elizabeth Haub will surely live on through this award and most certainly encourage others to become stewards of their natural environment and work towards improving international environmental and conservation policies.

Thank you and again welcome to the OAS.