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OAS General Assembly: Heads of Delegation Continue Debates on “Development with Social Inclusion”

  June 5, 2014

The member countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) emphasized today, at the second plenary session of the General Assembly at its forty-fourth regular session, under way in Asunción, Paraguay, through Thursday, June 5, the need to seek better policies for “development with social inclusion,” the theme of the Assembly session.

In keeping with their requests for the floor, 15 heads of delegation spoke at this afternoon’s session.

Saint Kitts and Nevis

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Patrice Nesbitt, emphasized that countries of the Americas “must do no less than to acknowledge our shortcomings, and to move with alacrity to challenge our own minds to seek more innovative, participatory, and equitable solutions to pressing issues like hunger and poverty, and yes exclusion.” Minister Nesbitt called development with social inclusion the “antidote” to many of today’s problems and said citizens in the region “expect their leaders to work with them in resolving the challenge of structural inequality.” “Together,” concluded Minister Nesbitt, “our states must be the drivers of significant, practical growth opportunities, and we must give our citizens the power to recognize and take advantage of the opportunity” to have active, participatory citizens who fully realize their potential.


The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Haiti, Duly Brutus, highlighted the “significant progress over the past 25 years since representative democracy was established as the system of government of the Americas.” This evolution, he said, “is largely the result of work by the OAS.” Minister Brutus especially praised the institution’s role in his country during that period and expressed his wish that the OAS should provide its experience “at all phases of organization of the upcoming elections.” As for human rights, the Haitian former ambassador to the OAS reaffirmed his Government’s support for the work of the Inter-American Commission and recalled that the Haitian parliament recently ratified several international agreements on the matter. On the theme of the Assembly session, Minister Brutus expressed his support for the Declaration of Asunción on Development with Social Inclusion and cited a number of social programs recently implemented by his Government that have had a positive impact on citizens, such as a plan to reduce extreme poverty, a program of universal, cost-free, and compulsory schooling, and a cholera prevention campaign.


The Permanent Representative of Dominica to the OAS, Hubert Charles, said that although millions of persons in the region have been able to rise from poverty in recent years, many of them “continue to be denied meaningful participation in decision-making and in sharing the benefits and responsibilities of citizenship.” “Our support for the upliftment of the human condition is no idle claim. We have in our health, education and housing policies focused on the provision of support and opportunity for those in our communities, who through no fault of their own, have been confined to the margins of society.” In conclusion, Ambassador Charles voiced his expectation that the OAS will recognize the peculiar vulnerability that small island status implies and “partner with us in the quest for economic growth and greater social inclusion.”


The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Uruguay, Luis Almagro, said that the theme of the Assembly session “is the horizon all of the Latin American countries have set as our objective, and we are working toward it through national public policies and through the integration processes that unite us.” After explaining some of his country’s policies to improve social inclusion, Minister Almagro stated his wish that “the results of this meeting will translate into stronger specific public policies that go beyond any rhetoric and truly focus on men, women, children, and adolescents as rights-holders, as a key element in the development of peoples.”

Trinidad and Tobago

For his part, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, Winston Dookeran, recalled that “when the issue of growth and equality became an important one in the early days of the development process it was held that growth and equality were inverse in their relationship. That thesis is no longer valid. Now we can recognize that growth and development are linked in a way in which equality is in fact a precondition for growth.” As for the deliberations at the Assembly session, Minister Dookeran expressed his happiness at “the tone of the discussions that have happened here, and we see this not only as a renewal, but also as the regeneration of an interest in rebuilding the OAS as a premium multilateral forum for discussion in an open, frank, and candid way on issues that affect all of us.”


The Minister of External Relations of Brazil, Eduardo dos Santos, congratulated the Government of Paraguay on its choice of “development with social inclusion” as the theme of the General Assembly session, which reflects “the concern over, and commitment to, cooperation for development with social justice in the Americas which we all share.” The Brazilian diplomat maintained that social inclusion is an essential condition for the promotion of full citizenship, for the consolidation of the democratic rule of law, and for development with justice and equity. After recalling that the region was long under the “false belief in a dichotomy between economic development and policies of inclusion,” dos Santos said that in the past decade it had been shown to be possible to grow while maintaining economic stability and income distribution and promoting social inclusion.


The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Paraguay, Federico González, cited deliberations that took place at OAS headquarters, in Washington, D.C., and concluded with a consensus on the final document that will be adopted by the General Assembly on “development with social inclusion,” the theme of the event. “The discussion also yielded positive results in identifying approaches to allow our countries to remove the obstacles mentioned and ease the way to development,” he said. Minister González maintained that, in Paraguay, “we believe emphatically that development without a lessening of poverty and inequality is unjustifiable, and adopting urgent measures is indispensable for all of us.” The Paraguayan diplomat added that the OAS has been shown to be “the foremost hemispheric forum for conducting frank, productive, and respectful dialogue, as a way to address the challenges of the international arena.”


The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade of Jamaica, Arnaldo Brown, said his country places the highest priority on seeking social inclusion while fostering national growth and development. Minister Brown cited Jamaica’s National Plan, “Vision 2030,” to attain the status of developed country by 2030, making his nation “the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business.” He also expressed his appreciation for the efforts of the Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, to strengthen relations between the OAS, Jamaica, and the Caribbean Community (CARICOM). At another point in his remarks, Minister Brown voiced his “full support” for the “Strategic Vision” process--the year-long discussion member states have been engaged in on the future of the Organization, and which Secretary General Insulza himself initiated.

Saint Lucia

The Minister for External Affairs, International Trade, and Civil Aviation of Saint Lucia, Alva Romanus Baptiste, “unhesitatingly” expressed his country’s support for the choice of theme for the Assembly session, “development with social inclusion,” adding that the states of the Caribbean Community have led on the topic of development in all the OAS bodies and commissions for many years. Minister Romanus Baptiste said that Saint Lucia has implemented a number of initiatives under social assistance programs in areas related to health, education, and housing, as well as curtailing discrimination in these matters. “These measures attempt to equalize opportunity by providing the necessary means through which vulnerable persons can participate fully in the society in which they live,” he said.

Costa Rica

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Worship of Costa Rica, Manuel González, spoke on the role the OAS should play in promoting development with social inclusion, according to the various pillars that shape its endeavors. In this sense, he highlighted the efforts under way to create a new “Strategic Vision” for the Organization, which he said “will help to position it to be in consonance with the new realities, challenges, and demands of the era we live in.” He said that, as poverty does, inequality and exclusion facilitate the infiltration of organized crime into society, growth in the drug market, and human trafficking. He explained that Costa Rica has placed priority on initiatives to promote education and equal opportunities through policies to counter racism, xenophobia, and discrimination.


Francisco Álvarez de Soto, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Panama, stated that the Assembly’s chosen theme, proposed by the host country and ratified by the member states, indicates that the region is aware of the need to formulate a development agenda that promotes inclusive social and economic progress. Inequality and social exclusion, he said, lead to violence and impact democratic governance; in contrast, education plays an essential role in combating them. Referring to the different efforts his country has undertaken in pursuit of development, he made particular mention of its programs to promote microenterprises and small and medium-sized business, expand food production, provide access to comprehensive health services, promote gender equality, and fight against racism and discrimination.


Roberto Ochoa Madrid, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of Honduras, spoke about several of the social development initiatives that President Juan Orlando Hernández has implemented during the first days of his administration, with an emphasis on the topic of education. “We know that inequity and social inequality restrict inclusive, quality education, and that without education there can be no respect for human rights, or citizen security, or comprehensive health standards,” he said, and he called for the adoption of economic policies that were in line with that premise. He went on to express his wish for the Declaration of Asunción “to reflect an overview of our countries’ shared aspirations and concerns, with emphasis on participation by women, indigenous peoples, people of African descent, disabled people, and senior citizens.”


María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, underscored the contribution that the OAS can make to the international community’s discussions on the post-2015 Agenda, “by sharing best practices and successful experiences with fighting poverty, with promoting policies for equality, and with improving living standards in the Hemisphere.” She placed particular emphasis on the use of competitiveness, innovation, and technology as “elements that allow productive transformations that will ensure success in a dynamic and globalized world,” and she proposed the creation of a structure within the inter-American system that would serve to identify best practices in education and promote high standards of quality in that field. Minister Holguín concluded by highlighting the efforts made by her country’s government to achieve a “stable and lasting” national peace.

El Salvador

Carlos Castaneda, Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, said that the Assembly’s theme was “historic and fully current, of interest and concern to the peoples and nations of the Hemisphere.” “Clearly,” Vice Minister Castaneda added, “social development must be built through respect, solidarity, and commitment toward the present and future generations.” His country’s government, he said, “is convinced of the need to recognize and at all times to prioritize dialogue, solidarity, and respect for institutional structures and democratic principles as major elements in the construction of development with social inclusion.”


Ricardo Patiño, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, said that development and social inclusion were “two concepts that, in Ecuador’s view, could not be separated.” After summarizing his country’s achievements in such fields as education, public health, lower infant mortality, and access to decent housing, Minister Patiño spoke of the need to strengthen the inter-American human rights system, and to support the ongoing dialogue in Venezuela, where “we hope that the efforts being jointly undertaken at the initiative of the Government will yield great success.” Ecuador’s Minister of Foreign Affairs also called for the situation with the Malvinas Islands to be resolved “as promptly as possible,” together with the conflict between the United States and Cuba.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The B-Roll of the event is available here.

The full video of the event is available here.

The audio of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-233/14