The 47th Special General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS ) today adopted the draft resolution, entitled "Guidelines and Objectives of the Strategic Vision" of the hemispheric institution, that seeks to reorganize the priorities and mandates of the Organization with a view to bringing it up to the challenges of the 21st Century.
The initiative, adopted by acclamation, states that the resolution is intended for “institution-building, for management, and for each of the pillars defined in the Vision of the Organization: Democracy, Human Rights, Integral Development, and Multidimensional Security”.
The debate on Strategic Vision originally launched by the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, in February 2012, takes off as a necessary process to adapt the Organization’s mandates to the reality of the 21st Century, so as to rationalize and leverage the financial resources of the hemispheric institution and align them with its set objectives.
Today's resolution instructs the Permanent Council to continue the development of the Strategic Vision and notes the need to "develop a four-year Comprehensive Strategic Plan with work plans for each of the four pillars, and for management and institution-building". Pursuant to a mandate of the OAS Regular General Assembly held in Paraguay last June, the guidelines and strategic objectives of the adopted draft resolution on Strategic Vision will have to be reflected in the Organization’s 20152016 Program-Budget, which will be approved soon.
The OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, described in his address the Strategic Vision’s process from its inception and expanded on his views’ and contribution’s concepts. In that regard, he recalled that some years ago he expressed the need to define a vision for the Organization “in line with current times and capable of meeting all the contemporary challenges and circumstances of multilateral action on the hemispheric stage,” a definition, he added, that must serve to maintain the relevance of the OAS as “the main international reference point for political debate and cooperation among all the countries of the Americas”.
Referring to how the regional Organization has been adapting to the changes facing the region, the leader of the hemispheric institution explained that “those very pillars that we now proclaim as the Organization’s central axes were built over time, to meet very specific challenges facing our countries.”
In that vein, Secretary General Insulza recalled his initial proposal to reorganize and prioritize the mandates that member states have assigned to the institution on “the basic principles and tasks that make up the essence of the Organization of American States going forward into the 21st Century”. He further noted that when presenting the second version of his Strategic Vision, “the changes that we were experiencing imposed the need for an inclusive Organization, comprising countries that were sovereign, diverse, and legitimized by democracy, pursuing the same hemispheric agenda, in conditions of full equality.”
In explaining his approach, the Secretary General said that the need for a Strategic Vision is not motivated by any “crisis or loss of direction within the Organization”. On the contrary, “if the OAS continues to exist, it is because it remains the main international reference point for political debate and cooperation among all the countries of the Americas,” and because “it has been able to adapt to the enormous changes that this region has lived,” he said. He further explained that he does not advocate “a relaunch of the OAS, but rather an evolution based on what was already built. “The purpose of this exercise was not to invent a new OAS in laboratory conditions, but rather to reaffirm the ties between our strategic objectives, the values we share as a hemispheric political organization, and the way we organize, fund, and manage our activities,” he said. “The pillars on which our Organization is grounded,” he added, “are based on “two fundamental treasures that are the true strength of the OAS: dialogue and law”.
With regard to dialogue, the leader of the hemispheric institution emphasized that one cannot forget that the fundamental mission of the OAS is to serve as a political forum in which the states “will always have a place for constructive, democratic, and equal dialogue, where they can set out their common ground and their differences and organize their collective action”. “The diversity of ideological and political trends that now characterize the Americas has been apparent within the OAS and, far from weakening or dividing it, has served to strengthen it,” he indicated. Regarding law, he recalled that the OAS “is the depository and the keeper of all the laws of the Americas,” and that “no agreement reached at the hemispheric level fails to refer back here”.
The OAS leader concluded his intervention emphasizing that “the next phase is, surely, the most difficult: adopting the political decisions needed to adapt the work of the Organization to the priorities that we ourselves have determined.” However, he expressed his conviction that the endeavor will succeed because member states are willing to continue building a partnership based on the contribution of all and that “following the modernization effort, no one will seek to weaken the pact of unity and cooperation that gave rise to the inter-American system 125 years ago”. “We are here to strengthen that pact and we will accomplish that goal provided that we all demonstrate our willingness to abide by the same rules, under conditions of equality, and are able to present solid principles that have already been agreed upon, specifying clear objectives, specific work plans, developing an austere and efficient administration, and maintaining appropriate coordination with the other institutions of the inter-American system”.
The Permanent Representative of Mexico, Ambassador Emilio Rabasa, who had led the Working Group on Strategic Vision that has guided the debates on the topic since September 2013, was elected Chair of today’s Special General Assembly. Ambassador Rabasa said that during the year more than 70 meetings were held in which "we were able to determine a vision for the future and align objectives, as well as a series of actions to be taken in the short term, bearing in mind that this is a process that neither began a year ago, nor ends today, but it is a continuous process, which goals and scope get increasingly larger". The Mexican diplomat added that the debate on the OAS Strategic Vision is "a long journey, which aims to strengthen the Organization for the Century’s challenges ahead”.
Ambassador Rabasa asserted that the "Strategic Vision has allowed for a meeting with our organization and ourselves, a meeting of constant dialogue and negotiation where we ventilate our similarities and our differences, our agreements and disagreements, our strengths, but also our weaknesses—something human, all too human, as a philosopher would say. However, it becomes clear that in this hemisphere we can dialogue, exchange views on a shared goal—the strengthening our organization—and that in a world that is increasingly overcast with new clouds that may herald a new storm, it is a significant achievement".
During the meeting, the delegations of El Salvador, Panama, Dominica, Peru, Nicaragua, Saint Lucia , Venezuela, Costa Rica, Honduras, the United States, Chile, Guatemala, Colombia, Bolivia, Trinidad and Tobago, the Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Canada, Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, The Bahamas, and Barbados took the floor.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
The full 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.