Ahead of Sunday’s inauguration of the Organization of American States’ (OAS) 35th regular General Assembly session in Fort Lauderdale, a number of observer countries have stepped forward with new pledges of financial, material, political and diplomatic support to a range of the organization’s programs and activities. Today’s pledges by 15 permanent observer nations total some $3 million towards OAS programs in human rights, drug abuse control, promotion of democracy, fellowships, the hemispheric summits process and efforts against terrorism, among others.
Addressing a dialogue of member states’ heads of delegation and permanent observers, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza acknowledged the permanent observers’ significant contribution to development in the Americas, through a consolidated partnership of cooperation. Of specific contributions through the OAS, Insulza said, “In the past seven years alone, the total contribution of permanent observers has surpassed $66 million, of which $60 million consisted of cash donations.” He singled out the governments of Sweden and Norway for contributing together some $34 million of that total, and explained that several OAS programs could not have been maintained without permanent observer support.
United States Ambassador John Maisto underscored at the meeting where the pledges were announced the Bush administration’s accent on multilateralism and support for the OAS. He expressed the U.S. desire to see several basic issues enhanced under the rubric of “delivering the benefits of democracy,” this General Assembly’s theme. “We are interested in seeing results in terms of strengthening democracy, in terms of promoting prosperity and in terms of enhancing security in the hemisphere.”
Spain’s Permanent Observer, Ambassador Juan Romero de Terreros, announced a new contribution by Spain—of more than $1 million, earmarked mainly for the OAS program areas of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR); the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD); and OAS electoral technical assistance activities in Haiti. Reaffirming his country’s deep interest in the Americas, Ambassador Romero de Terreros spoke of his country’s longstanding cooperation with countries of the region, and renewed the commitment to support the work of the OAS in such critical areas consolidation of democracy, combating extreme poverty, governance and development in its broadest sense.
Other announced contributions include 390,000 euros that Ireland’s Permanent Observer, Ambassador Noel Fahey, said is earmarked for the OAS Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia. Finland’s Permanent Observer, Ambassador Jukka Valtassari, announced a 300,000 euro contribution for the OAS human rights and indigenous peoples programs, both of which will also benefit from a 150,000 euro boost from Italy, announced by Permanent Observer Ambassador Geri Schiavoni. Israel, meanwhile, has committed $100,000 towards fellowships, said Ambassador Dorit Shavit, Deputy Director for the Americas in the Israeli Foreign Affairs Ministry.
China’s Permanent Observer, Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong, pledged $60,000 towards a public information seminar to be staged ahead of the next Summit of the Americas, slated for Argentina in November. The Czech Republic’s Ambassador Martin Palous announced a pledged of $50,000 towards the civil society programs, while Ambassador Georges Vaugier, France’s Permanent Observer, announced a $40,000 pledge towards the OAS Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD). Greece, through Alternate Observer Dimitri Anghelakis, pledged $30,000 towards the Lecture Series of the Americas.
The others who spoke of pledges were Ambassadors Okun Udoh of Nigeria; Necati Utkan of Turkey; Mohammed Kabir of Qatar; Chirachai Punkrasin of Thailand; Per Norstrom of Sweden; and Even Stormoen, Alternate Observer of Norway.
Dr. Irene Klinger, Director of the Department of Communications and External Relations, chaired the meeting, which was also attended by US Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Roger Noriega and OAS Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi.