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OAS Roundtable Discussed the New Development Agenda for Cooperation Beyond 2015

  October 17, 2014

The Organization of American States (OAS) today hosted a Policy Roundtable on "Beyond 2015: A New Development Agenda for Cooperation" at its headquarters in Washington DC, which featured the participation of representatives of nine regional organizations from around the world.

The event, co-organized by the OAS and the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA), was part of the Fourth High Level Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy, which brought together key regional organizations to discuss democracy and development in the context of the post-2015 agenda.

The event’s welcoming remarks were offered by the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, who said the High Level Meeting of the Inter-Regional Dialogue on Democracy "is now a constant among us" which has been organized for four consecutive years and today seeks to take advantage of the contribution made by international organizations to the debates on the Post-2015 Agenda. "This year's meeting addresses a special topic, as we know the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals is 2015, today we will have a discussion of how to go beyond the goals considering other important pillars such as human rights and democracy," he said.

Secretary General Insulza highlighted the significant progress achieved in the Western Hemisphere in recent decades in terms of economic growth and democracy. "Democracy is thriving," he said, and recalled that the last four Summits of the Americas have been characterized by the participation of democratic governments. "We have had a virtuous circle of ten years of growth, declining poverty and tremendous improvement in the generation of democracy," said the Secretary General, while warning that the future of the region will have different perspectives due to the high dependence of economic growth of Latin America to the United States, European and Chinese markets. "The development of Latin America was clearly export-led and facilitated by the amount of capital that was coming to the region, something that is not happening anymore," Insulza said, predicting a deceleration in the region’s growth in the coming years.

On the issue of poverty, the leader of the hemispheric Organization noted the challenges faced by people living in the low middle income class "who are struggling to stay above the poverty line" and said this situation is directly related to highly important topics such as education, health, social security, and the environment. Furthermore, in relation to the development challenges facing the region in the face of Post-2015 agenda, he said that it is necessary to evaluate the role of democracy and its ability to respond to the current needs of its citizens. "The big question we need to address in this forum, which is the main forum of the Americas, is: Are democracies going to be able to respond to these challenges?; Will they be able to make our economies more dynamic with greater competitiveness, better income distribution and education?, or we will suffer the same cycle that unfortunately, Latin America has suffered many times in its history which is going up and down according to the ups and downs of the world economy?"

For her part, the Executive Head of the Democracy Fund of the United Nations, Annika Savill, noted that the only institution in the global organization which has the word "democracy" in its name is the one she leads, since this definition is a complex issue to address. "Democracy is not just elections, but having accountable governments every day," said Savill, who said she considered it important for the post 2015 agenda to set goals in issues of democracy, implement them, and track them to account for their results. However, despite considering that the current generation of young people is the largest in the history of mankind, and the most connected, the representative of the UN Democracy Fund said that civil society, whose role is critical to the monitoring of democratic commitments, is more threatened now than in the past. “Regional organizations can be both an important actor and stage in this. They can convene and they can provide a forum for civil society to come together with governments in the post 2015 agenda context and in many others, Savill said.


The Head of the Department for Relations with International Organizations and Non-Member States of the Council of Europe, Jiri Vogl, said his organization -which brings together 47 countries with a total of 800 million people- was created after the Second World War to avoid further wars in Europe. Vogl said that 65 years after the creation of the Council of Europe, many countries in the region continue to face serious problems with corruption, their systems of justice, and a lack of respect for ethnic minorities. Also, Vogl expressed concern on the new conflicts the region faces, including the situation in Eastern Europe. Furthermore, Vogl noted the need to increase the effectiveness of the European system of human rights protection, so that it can respond in a timely manner to the hundreds of thousands of claims it receives each year.

The Deputy Head of the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, François Rivasseau, remarked on the major challenges for development and mentioned Ebola in the first place, "because I think it is a good example of a kind of global challenge we face and illustrates the fact that we live on the same planet and we have to act in solidarity.” Secondly, he talked about the relationship with the "neighborhood" and individual problems that the countries of a sub-region, such as Eastern Europe, are experiencing that threaten democracy, but also involve development issues. "We cannot solve these problems if you just look at the aspects of development, or whether only serve aspects of democracy. We must build on these two pillars, and that's what we're trying to do in the European Union," he said.


The Commissioner for Political Affairs of the African Union Commission, Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, noted the progress in economic and political stability and the "wave of democratization" that has characterized the African continent in the past two decades. In this regard, she mentioned some of the challenges and lessons learned in the countries of this region in terms of elections, especially regarding the credibility of the electoral process and electoral violence. Commissioner Abdullahi explained that as part of the celebration of 50 years of the African Union, a process of reflection has begun on what the organization expects to achieve in the next 50 years, based on what they have called "The Agenda 2063, the Africa we want." "It's an agenda that seeks to promote inclusive growth based on sustainable development, an integrated continent, politically united and based on the ideas of Pan-Africanism, a region characterized by good governance, democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law."


The Director of Political and Security Cooperation of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Pratap Parameswaran, referred to the complex changes the region has experienced in recent decades. "Our scenario has undergone many changes due to the complex political situation in many countries and the challenges of the economy and competition for resources," he said, adding that for the ASEAN it is very important "to maintain and enhance the peace, security and stability in the region to address the geopolitical changes that are taking place." He added that the region has been classified "as the new region for transformation, and as the engine of growth for the next century due to its economic integration, interdependence and dynamism." In this sense Parameswaran said that with a view to 2015 there are challenges relating to poverty and inequity, natural disasters as well as other non-traditional transnational crime such as trafficking in persons.

For her part, the Deputy Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum, Andie Fong Toy, estimated that the two biggest problems facing her region for the post-2015 agenda are limited prospects for development and inequality of opportunities suffered especially by women. Regarding the first issue, she explained that the vulnerabilities suffered by small and isolated countries are the dependence on their environment, threatened by climate change, which largely is caused by the actions of more developed nations. Toy Fong also mentioned the need to promote and improve the participation of women in the processes of political decision-making, which in her region is ten percent below the world average. To do this, the main obstacle to overcome is the lack of support for the political parties to do so, said Fong Toy.

The Director of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), Mohammad Ibrahim Ghafoori, said his organization brings together eight countries of South Asia: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka. Director Ghafoori recalled that in 1995, when SAARC was founded, the association had only two democracies, but he added that "we are now all democracies.” Among the major challenges facing the region, Director Ghafoori mentioned gender equality and ensuring the right of all people to employment, achieving equitable access to quality education and health services, and improving access to tap water, nutrition and energy sources. Also, he mentioned other challenges the region is facing such as the aging population, climate change and natural disasters.

The Secretary General of International IDEA, Yves Leterme, was in charge of moderating the roundtable and remarks. After the meeting, Leterme said that all the participants contributed to a "very rich session" as part of the debate on the new agenda of cooperation after 2015.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The B-Roll of the event will be available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-444/14