Press Release


OAS Permanent Council Convenes Meeting of Foreign Ministers on the Situation between Ecuador and the United Kingdom

  August 17, 2012

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today decided to convene a meeting of Foreign Ministers to discuss the situation between Ecuador and the United Kingdom.

The resolution, adopted with 23 votes in favor, 3 against, 5 abstentions and 3 absent, convenes the Foreign Ministers of the OAS Member States to meet on Friday, August 24 at 11:00 EDT (15:00 GMT) at the headquarters of the organization in Washington, DC. The purpose of the meeting will be to "address the situation between Ecuador and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland regarding the inviolability of the diplomatic premises of Ecuador in the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in accordance with international law, and to agree on appropriate measures to be adopted."

The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, stressed to the Council that the resolution approved focuses on "the problem posed by the threat or warning made to Ecuador by the possibility of an intervention into its embassy in London.” “The central issue is not the right of asylum, is the inviolability of embassies," said Secretary General Insulza, who recalled that last year the United Nations Security Council ruled "very strictly on the absolute immunity that diplomatic missions must have in all the countries of the world."

“What is being proposed is that the Foreign Ministers of our organization address this subject and not the subject of asylum nor whether it should be granted to Mr. Julian Assange. That will be discussed between Great Britain and Ecuador, the issue that concerns us is the inviolability of diplomatic missions of all members of this organization, something that is of interest to all of us," said the OAS Secretary General.

The resolution adopted was presented in its original version by the Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the OAS, María Isabel Salvador, who requested the convening of a meeting of OAS Foreign Ministers after her government received a written communication from the United Kingdom warning the government in Quito, she said, that it "should be aware that there is a legal basis in the United Kingdom, the Diplomatic and Consular Premises Act of 1987, which would allow us to take action to arrest Mr. Assange in the existing facilities of the embassy." The South American country yesterday granted diplomatic asylum to Assange, an Australian citizen, who has been in the embassy of Ecuador in London since June 19, 2012.

During the Council meeting, the Representatives of Ecuador, Argentina, Dominica (on behalf of CARICOM), the United States, Panama, Nicaragua, Bolivia, Uruguay, Venezuela, Guatemala, El Salvador, Peru, Brazil, Honduras, Mexico, Canada, Paraguay, Chile and Costa Rica all spoke, as well as the Observers to the OAS from the United Kingdom and Sweden.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The full video of the event is available here. The reel of images will be available here.

The audio of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.

Reference: E-283/12