A proposal for a “social charter” featured among possible strategies to overcome poverty in the Americas, discussed at a meeting at the Organization of American States (OAS) Tuesday as member state delegates and OAS officials explored how to implement practical steps to improve living conditions for the hemisphere’s citizens.
The joint meeting of the OAS Permanent Council and the Permanent Executive Committee of the CEPCIDI was called to review, among other things, the follow-up to the First High-Level Meeting on Poverty, Equity and Social Inclusion, held on Margarita Island, Venezuela, last October.
CEPCIDI Chairman Ambassador Jorge Valero of Venezuela presented a report highlighting the Margarita High-Level Meeting as “fruitful and constructive,” as it covered the poverty question from a multi-dimensional perspective—encompassing primarily social, economic and political considerations. He called for a social charter as one practical instrument to give form to economic, social and cultural rights and to articulate the member states’ commitment.
Affirming that a social charter would complement the Inter-American Democratic Charter, Valero cited the connection between poverty and democratic governance, emphasizing that “meaningful democracy necessarily involves creating better living conditions for millions of individuals who do not enjoy the benefits of development.”
Permanent Council Chair Ambassador Miguel Ruiz-Cabañas of Mexico underscored state reform, fiscal reform and debt management as critical issues that must be addressed in any pragmatic anti-poverty initiative. “The spread of poverty increases social tensions,” the Permanent Council Chair stated, noting as well the added problems of weak institutions and corruption that “hinder the governments’ efforts to effectively address the problems of our societies.”
He argued that the OAS together with other inter-American organizations and others like the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Inter-American Development Bank, the Caribbean Development Bank and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration could make a substantive contribution in advancing the debate on effective anti-poverty strategies.
Meanwhile, a ten-point proposal formed the centerpiece of a presentation by Ron Scheman, CEPCIDI Executive Secretary and Director General of the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development (IACD), the technical assistance arm of the OAS. He described his presentation as a concise guideline that the governments of the Americas could take into account when adopting policies to overcome poverty.
These proposals focus on ways to: strengthen the rule of law; comply with public trust; engage a total commitment to education at all levels; build alliances with the private sector; promote equity in opportunity for entrepreneurship; and redouble commitment to science and technology.
Specific steps to follow up on the commitments made at the Margarita High-Level Meeting on Poverty were outlined in a document presented by senior IACD official Alfonso Quiñones. This document elaborated on the methodology that included strategies to strengthen the Inter-American Program to Combat Poverty and Discrimination as well as horizontal cooperation, and initiatives to forge instruments for promoting respect for economic, social and cultural rights.
In the discussion of the role of the OAS in development, Mr. Scheman said the nations of the Americas need a Development Council focused on the underlying social and economic issues that trouble the Americas. “Our success will make a strong contribution to the vitality of our democratic institutions, to the dynamic growth of our economies and to the eventual triumph over the heritage of poverty that has been the burden of this generation of Americans. “