The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today hosted a forum with the candidates for Commissioners of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in a regular meeting in which it also received the annual report of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and discussed the effectiveness of the implementation of the Declaration on Security in the Americas, among other issues.
For the first time, the Council welcomed the six IACHR candidates submitted by Member States, who seek to be elected at the General Assembly of the hemispheric institution which will take place between June 4 and 6 in Antigua, Guatemala. The candidates, who aspire to occupy three of the seven posts in the Commission, are: James Cavallaro, of the United States; the current Chair of the Commission, José de Jesús Orozco Henríquez, of Mexico; Javier de Balaúnde López de Romaña, of Peru; Commissioner Rodrigo Escobar Gil, of Colombia; Erick Roberts Garcés, of Ecuador; and Paulo de Tarso Vannuchi, of Brazil.
The candidates made presentations to the Council, and then the representatives of the Member Countries asked questions of the candidates. During the forum issues such as the backlog of cases, the interest in achieving full ratification of the American Convention on Human Rights, the universalization of the Inter-American human rights system, the balance between the defense and promotion of human rights, and the financing of the Inter-American system were discussed. The Chair of the Council and Permanent Representative of Panama, Arturo Vallarino, thanked the candidates for their presentations and noted that "we have been impressed with the professional skills and high intellectual level of the candidates."
In another agenda item, the Council received the
IICA Annual Report, which was presented by its Director General, Victor Villalobos, to be submitted to the 43rd OAS General Assembly. "At the Institute have called 2013 the year of the result, the year in which we have to make the countries aware of the results of this administration," said Director Villalobos, who went on to highlight that after more than 70 years of work on behalf of agriculture in the hemisphere, "IICA remains in force." In this regard, he recalled that the Sixth Summit of the Americas, held in Cartagena, Colombia last year, mentioned in its final documents "a credible commitment to agricultural innovation, recognizing it as a source of progress in the rural sector to achieve greater productivity and competitiveness, and thus reduce poverty levels and improve food security."
Director Villalobos said that "we have witnessed the great potential of agriculture and its enormous potential to generate development." He said " examples of this are the grain production that has made Southern Cone countries export powerhouses; the strength of the agricultural regional trade in North America, which moves forward to consolidate economic integration; the genetic diversity which is the basis of Andean agriculture; the wealth generated by agricultural products in Central America via income and employment; and the enormous effort in the Caribbean to achieve food security."
The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, welcomed the report submitted by Director Villalobos and stressed the importance of IICA within the Inter-American System headed by the OAS. "This is a very important mandate (of the OAS), because the IICA has played a substantial role in the agriculture of our region," said Insulza.
The principal representative of the hemispheric institution said the region and its agricultural production have changed since the founding of the Institute. "Today our hemisphere is more urban, therefore, for a good time now, the first challenge of agriculture in the 21st century is to produce more with less labor," he said, adding that "agriculture in Latin America plays a strategic role, because as the Americas are a hemisphere with a food surplus, which produces more food than it consumes, it still has significant pockets of hunger and yet we do not take full advantage of the wealth we have in this matter."
The Director General of Regional American Organizations and Mechanisms of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Ambassador José Antonio Zabalgoitia, presented the background and highlighted the importance of the Declaration on Security in the Americas, adopted in 2003, around which the Council will hold a series of dialogues in its next three regular meetings.
In his presentation, Ambassador Zabalgoitia stated that "the Special Conference on Security in the Americas identified common approaches and collaborative efforts to address more effectively the existing threats, concerns and challenges in terms of security, in the search for peace and regional security." He added that the adoption of the Declaration on Security "contributed a new concept of multidimensional security in the hemisphere that includes traditional and new threats" such as terrorism, yjr global drug problem, corruption, human trafficking, cyber security attacks, and natural disasters, among others.
In this context the Representative of the Mexican Foreign Ministry reported that, upon the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Declaration, his country supported the dialogue that has been held on the effectiveness in its implementation and the identification of programs and alternatives for enhancing its effectiveness "in order to analyze and improve progress in its implementation." He also reported that his country will hold during the month of October a protocolary ceremony "to endorse the validity of the Declaration" in which the results of the dialogue held in three meetings on this subject in the Permanent Council will be shared.
During the meeting, several Permanent Representatives recalled the celebration today in most of the world of International Labor Day. The Secretary General welcomed all workers of the Americas and quoted the German-American philosopher Hannah Arendt, who in describing the marches by workers in Chicago in the late nineteenth century for the eight-hour workday, said "fought for the right to have rights."
Also today, the Permanent Council received reports from the Chairs of the Standing Committees of the Council and the CIDI on the prioritization of the mandates of the OAS. In this regard, the Council urged the Chairs to "prepare a resolution on the issue to be submitted for consideration at a Council meeting in June."
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
The video 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.