The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today presented to the Permanent Council the second version of the document "A Strategic Vision of the OAS" that broadens and further lays out the proposals and perspectives presented in February of last year, on the prioritization of the tasks of the organization and how to best rationalize and leverage available financial resources.
In his presentation to the Council, Secretary General Insulza stressed that given the changing situation we live in today it is necessary to have "an inclusive organization, made up of sovereign, diverse countries legitimized by democracy, working on an equal footing to advance the same hemispheric agenda,” which he said constitutes “what is demanded of the OAS in the 21st century, far from what was demanded of it during the Cold War.”
In his analysis, Insulza stressed the relevance of the organization he leads due to the existence of "a hemispheric agenda that includes a set of issues that can not be understood if they are not addressed at that hemispheric level," including migration, trade, investment and other cultural, demographic and social issues. "No one could think about the issues of migration, for example, without referencing the hemispheric context, when most of the migration still occurs from south to north," said the leader of the hemispheric organization.
The Secretary General also explained that one of the OAS’ most important features is that countries in the region "have lived in peace with each other for over a century and that has to do with our institutions, which allow for that peace." Insulza added that "from the legal standpoint, this institution is hegemonic because there is no hemispheric treaty that is not deposited here and that has not become law within the OAS, with the exception of the Treaty of Tlatelolco."
On the issue of democracy and the activities of the institution, the Secretary General noted that this "is a major challenge in an organization that also wants to be inclusive" and spoke of how the view and conception of democracy has evolved over recent decades. "Today it is demanded that countries be democratic, before they were asked to state their willingness to become so at some point; this is a basic change in the democratic pillar, that makes democracy and the Inter-American Democratic Charter one of the key legal instruments of this organization," he said.
In the area of public security, the Secretary General spoke of the new multidimensional approach, that emphasizes cooperation to address internal threats and, in that sense he recalled that the fight against drug trafficking is a major hemispheric priority.
“In short, despite the talk of “continuity” in the “pillars” of the organization, the content of those pillars has changed substantively and we have transformed the organization much more radically than is sometimes recognized. The Inter-American system’s strength has not been sapped. Rather, it has demonstrated its ability to adapt to new circumstances," writes the Secretary in his report.
Speaking before the Council, the OAS leader insisted that the challenge now is how to maintain the core functions of the organization and at the same time prioritize its tasks, adding his encouragement to further discussion on the prioritization of mandates.
"I believe that, with the resources we have, in the area of political affairs we can carry out tasks that deal with the settlement of disputes between States, addresses the crises, develops governability programs that are useful to the countries and makes the observation and advice on electoral matters a priority," said the leader of the hemispheric institution.
In the area of development, the Secretary General suggested a focus on the core objectives laid out by the Summits of the Americas, mainly those related to strengthening equality and social development, environmental policy, issues related to the fight against discrimination, expansion of the scholarship prgram and advancing gender policy.
In its conclusions, the document on Strategic Vision recognizes that the OAS has reached “a decisive moment for the future of the organization. As it has on several previous occasions, the moment has arrived, several times postponed, for the OAS to adapt to the demands of the present.”
Following the presentation made by the Secretary General, the Permanent Representatives of El Salvador, the United States, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Canada, Panama, Haiti and Grenada took the floor to express their gratitude for the contents of the document and make explicit their agreement with many of its points, especially those related to human rights, development, security, promotion of democracy, and the fight against illicit drugs, among others.
The Chair of the Council and Permanent Representative of Panama to the OAS, Ambassador Arturo Vallarino, concluded the discussion by recalling the history of the Strategic Vision document, announced the next steps including the creation of a calendar of activities of the Council for further discussion of the prioritization of mandates and encouraged continuation of the political dialogue aimed "at achieving the purposes for which the OAS was created."
A gallery of photos of the event will be available here.
The video of the event will be available here.
The B-roll of the event will be available here.
The audio of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.