Media Center



June 1, 1997 - Lima, Peru

On behalf of the Organization of American States, I want to thank you most sincerely, President Fujimori. Those of us who are visiting here from other lands have already sensed the warm and welcoming hospitality of this great city of Lima, and we feel ourselves very much at home among its gracious people. We can readily appreciate the words of the poet who sang of Lima as a Acordial, friendly, welcoming city, one with no grudges, no envy, no suspicions. We know why it is so close to the heart of every Peruvian.

Let us take this occasion also to express our admiration and gratitude to the foreign minister of Peru, Francisco Tudela, who personified so thoroughly the heroism and dignity with which a handful of innocent victims stood up with such stoicism in the face of terrorists. The hemispheric community rejoices to see that these recent events have left barely a scar on this great and growing nation, as it looks forward confidently to the future.

With you at the helm, Mr. President, Peru has demonstrated that no gang of armed thugs can ever hold hostage the destiny that the Peruvian people and their government have been building with such effort and sacrifice. The action that the authorities were forced to take a few weeks ago in no way detracts from the great progress that has been made over the past few years in disbanding the armed gangs and criminals that once held such sway over the life of the country.

These episodes have also served to remind us all of the great and profound changes that Peru has been through since your election in 1990. Since that time, your unceasing labor, your government=s decisive action and the effort and the sacrifices of all Peruvians have succeeded in pushing back terrorism, reestablishing economic stability and integrating Peru once again into the international financial system, actions that have brought about an era of political and economic stability for the country, and have opened the way to new hope and opportunity. Now you are engaged in a second phase of reforms, seeking to promote economic development and expand social investments, as the pillars of the grand effort that your government is making in the struggle against poverty.

The outstanding process of change in Peru is yet one more proof that the winds of renewal are blowing all over the Americas. While our hemisphere no doubt still faces longstanding and complex challenges, it can also look forward to greater prospects. A number of factors have contributed to fanning this fresh breeze, including the rapid integration of our countries, the steps toward privatization, the new role of the market, the reawakened recognition of the State=s social responsibilities, and of course the consolidation of democracy and the preservation of individual rights. We have not yet reached the end of the millennium, but our hemisphere is already launched upon a new era.

There have been disappointments, of course, but today we are more realistic about our possibilities. There were a few years, in the wake of the first wave of reforms and the end of the cold war, when we all lived through a kind of excessive euphoria. But then we were jolted by some nasty surprises, and some harsh realities, and we had to recognize that there are no easy shortcuts, there are no simple fixes or magic formulas. What we do have are opportunities, and the policies we select, for better or worse. Our future depends on the wisdom with which we make our policy choices, and on the courage and persistence we show in adopting them and carrying them out.

No sooner had we managed to cope, and very successfully, with the Mexican crisis that two years ago shook our confidence in our chosen path, than we heard new calls of alarm provoked by the disenchantment that economic reform has produced in many countries. Rather than any mass movement of protest against the reforms, it has taken in many countries the form of a collective scepticism that has at times given rise to populist policies and public discontent. This scepticism even extends to doubts about the benefits of democracy. Many in our hemisphere are beginning to equate democracy with the evils afflicting us: terrorism, drug trafficking, corruption, insecurity and poverty.

Yet despite these setbacks, no country has reversed course. Economic reforms, greater competition, the growing role of the market, are still everywhere recognized as essential, but they have lost something of their political appeal, their novelty, and their seemingly irresistible momentum of just a couple of years ago. Rather than retreating, what our peoples want and demand is that reforms should extend to public policies in those areas of government that have most to do with their daily concerns. The media and public opinion in our countries tend to take reforms for granted, believing that the goals of those reforms are now achieved, and they are pressing for a new agenda on which they want our governments and our political institutions to focus their attention. This agenda is a more complex one, its goals are broader and more diffuse, it is more difficult to assess its progress, and its results can often only be measured after the passage of some years.

We must accept that in many American countries, our citizens are becoming weary of letting the economic debate monopolize their concerns. Our people are growing tired of hearing about current account deficits, fiscal frameworks, trade policy, the level of international reserves and the growth of the money supply. And we must learn to interpret what they are looking for when they press for new themes or when they blame economic reform for some of our traditional ills. We must not prejudge or discount those who insist on results in the struggle against poverty, a fairer distribution of incomes, higher real wages for workers, lower unemployment, or an educational system that can meet the demands of globalization and the communications revolution.

Faced with this new agenda, the only attitude consistent with our ambitious goals is to press ahead with the changes on which we are embarked. This was amply demonstrated at the last annual meeting of the Inter-American Development Bank, at which were presented a number of studies relating changes in income distribution, rising growth rates and progress in the anti-poverty campaign during this decade to the various structural reforms that have been undertaken within the hemisphere. Increasingly it will be necessary to ensure that the changes already made and those to come will not only transform our economic institutions, but also be clearly capable of transforming our people=s lives for the better.

When it comes to scepticism about the blessings of democracy, what we are witnessing is not so much a rejection as a sense of fatigue with our political institutions. Our people perceive the State as indifferent to their rights as citizens, they see the impunity that pervades our judicial system, they hold political parties and their leaders responsible for corruption and poverty.

For these reasons, the hemisphere needs more attention and follow-up than ever. We need to add new institutional and political elements. Perhaps the major reason for this is simply the fact that economic freedoms and political liberties in America are today ever more closely intertwined. Only with more reform and more democracy can we meet rising expectations concerning the State=s duties in the social area, or its regulatory powers over private activity.

We must insist that democracy is the backbone of structural renewal of the hemisphere, and that it is the raison d=etre of the OAS, and by far its most important task, to defend and to promote democracy. The shortcomings and weaknesses of democracy and the threats to it are just as damaging to the quality of life in our hemisphere as any deterioration in our economic indicators. We can be fairly certain that the dark ages of military rule are behind us, with their bitter memories of hyperinflation and Adirty wars.@ Yet there are still weaknesses in our democratic structure and its functioning. We can still at times detect the specter of latent conflict, or conflicts that seem to have disappeared but have not really been resolved.

We are also facing phenomena such as terrorism, attempted military uprisings, poverty among the underprivileged segments of our society, personal insecurity in our cities, corruption and criminal impunity, drug trafficking. Who can deny that each of these scourges undermines our citizens= confidence in the system of government that they have chosen? An empty belly, a venal official, an unpunished crime, an assassination or murder, or trafficking in illegal substances, all are attacks against democracy.

In all parts of the Americas, we see processes in action that are depriving democracy of its legitimacy and its credibility as the best form of government, and are thus undermining its effectiveness in pursuing goals that are essential for creating solid and lasting institutions. To defend and strengthen democracy, we must confront these threats with the same vigor that we have shown in tackling the most urgent ills of our economies. They all demand attention and effort on the part of individual governments, but also, as has been said many times and places, they call out for resolute collective action through our inter-American institutions.

But beyond what we can do to deal with these problems that are common to all our democracies, we need to concentrate our efforts on what we may call the new agenda, with its new aspirations and new hopes. It is our task to find an answer to them. We must explore how we can articulate a common political and social strategy that goes well beyond the commercial integration of our markets. We must not be afraid of using the OAS to promote a second wave of reforms, as the IADB and the World Bank have been doing, reforms that will strengthen the capacity of the state to fulfill its social role and its regulatory responsibilities, to make labor markets more flexible and to strengthen the power of the judiciary. Or, indeed, to promote greater decentralization, more effective mechanisms for popular participation, greater balance among the public powers, stronger supervisory powers for congresses and parliaments, greater independence for central banks.

A comprehensive approach to consolidating and deepening democracy requires a forum for encouraging research, training and hemispheric dialogue on these topics. This is the purpose behind the proposal I have made to the Organization=s Permanent Council to establish a Center for the Study of Democracy, which we would implement jointly with the Inter-American Development Bank.

During the past year, we have enjoyed a number of successes that should encourage us to pursue economic and democratic reforms. Let me cite a few of them:

The best news of the last few months has come from Guatemala, where great progress has been made in building a climate of peace and consolidating the democratic system. The Guatemalan people have now put behind them thirty years of violence, thanks to their own determination and the solid support of the international community.

Mexico has made an outstanding economic recovery which, besides serving as an unprecedented example for inter-American cooperation, is one of the most successful cases of overcoming an economic crisis that we have seen in modern times.

The recent referendum in Ecuador has reinforced the legitimacy of the constitutional president, who was elected by Congress, under circumstances where the Armed Forces played a critical role to find a peaceful, negotiated and democratic solution to the country=s institutional crisis.

Nicaragua has continued the process of guaranteeing democracy and has held to the path of economic recovery and political pluralism. The CIAV post-conflict mission of the OAS will wrap up its work on June 30, after having contributed heavily to protecting human rights and facilitating the process of peace and national reconciliation in Nicaragua. We will continue with a special program aimed at strengthening democratic institutions.

Efforts to find a lasting solution for the differences between Ecuador and Peru are on track, at Itamaraty, with the participation of the four guarantor powers.

Haiti has made the first democratic transition of government in its history, and has done so with a great display of civility. The country is now discovering what it means to take decisions democratically, with all the argument and controversy that entails. Occasional outbreaks of violence, in no way comparable to the systematic violence of the past, are still a preoccupation for those who do not appreciate the magnitude of the task facing President Preval and all his people. Today, more than ever, we must offer our solidarity to the people of Haiti and their government.

The Caribbean continues to set a magnificent example of democracy, as the recent elections in the Bahamas and in Saint Lucia demonstrate so well. Guyana has lost one of the founders of Caribbean independence in the person of President Cheddi Jagan, but the country has remained steadfast to its constitutional provisions.

At the same time, we have seen a growing complexity and maturity in relations among the countries of the Americas. On one hand, the process of rapprochement and interchange has continued, born of the new spirit in hemispheric relations that was so evident at the Summit of the Americas, where the hemisphere=s heads of state and government agreed to put behind them decades of north-south confrontation over political and economic issues, and to banish any doubts as to what we can accomplish through joint action. In Miami in 1994, we opened the way to recognizing our shared values through a broad common agenda for intense collective action.

Nevertheless, this new climate of cooperation has come under threat occasionally from unilateral decisions. There is some unease in the hemisphere over national laws that attempt to enforce their writ beyond national frontiers. This attempt to force compliance by other states will certainly not allay the concerns of other countries, who find themselves wondering whether the new course of hemispheric relations will really result in a climate of understanding and consensus, based on agreed multilateral rules and standards, or whether instead we will end up in a relationship where policy is determined by what the most powerful country deems to be in its national interest.

President Clinton=s recent trip to Mexico, Central America and the Caribbean was a significant step in improving this climate and renewing the will to work collectively, and in helping to restore the spirit that we achieved in Miami. We must still ask ourselves, however, what the OAS can do to avoid those other tendencies from coming to dominate our hemispheric relations. We must think about how to reinforce the entire American multilateral system so that it can offer a substitute to the temptation to take unilateral measures in response to common problems of concern to us all. Similarly, we must reflect on how best to create a climate of cooperation and collective action, and to ensure that the idea of creating a free trade zone in the Americas is not merely an alternative approach to trade policy, but a proposal for a broader political, economic and social strategy.

These concerns are tied to those about what should be done at the second Summit of the Americas next March in Chile. This is the time to pause and review the ground we have covered, to examine the role that our institutions have played, and to consider how we in the OAS should change to be more useful in meeting the goals that the presidents and heads of government have laid out in the name of the peoples of the Americas. It is also an excellent occasion to think about the kinds of mechanisms and policies that will ensure more effective and relevant multilateral actions and provide real answers to the pressing problems of the hemisphere. And how are we going to pursue this emerging new agenda in the midst of public discontent and the ebb and flow of elections that produce new leaders and new parties?

I would like to start by stating a fact. We must recognize that it is impossible to go back to the old isolationist postures of the past. Merely invoking sovereignty, however much that might at times be justified, is not enough to resolve the problem. It will only lead to a flood of recriminations and finger-pointing for our problems and indulging in isolationist rhetoric that is contrary to the interests of our people. This is why we must remember that our differences are the result not only of unilateral actions, but also of the growing process of integration and globalization, which brings prosperity but also frictions, problems and challenges. We need to make more timely and effective use of the multilateral system of institutions, within a framework of rules governing our relations and increased mutual cooperation in a growing number of areas.

With your indulgence, I will now turn to some of the actions that we have undertaken within the OAS to strengthen that system. Then I will share with you my views about how the Organization can contribute to ensuring that the next Summit of the Americas can make further progress toward these goals.

In the face of the drug trade, we have agreed within the Inter-American Committee to Control Drug Abuse, on a balanced strategy of mutual responsibilities as we approach the 21st century. Moreover, we are now in the process of adopting an action plan to put that strategy into effect. This would seem today the best route to pursue, in light of the frictions that have arisen over the so-called certification process. Many of the issues related to the fight against drugs are still part of bilateral agendas, when they could perhaps be better dealt within the framework of CICAD.

This Assembly is being asked to consider an inter-American program to combat corruption, to implement the objectives of the Inter-American Convention, to which Peru has just become a signatory.

In cooperation with the World Bank and the IADB, we have begun analytical work in the area of personal security and public safety.

In addition to the Lima declaration and plan of action on terrorism, we have made progress in the areas of information exchange, police cooperation, intelligence, prevention, crisis management and border cooperation.

In the context of the Committee on Hemispheric Security, we are preparing for the Second Regional Conference on Confidence-Building and Security Measures, to be held in El Salvador. Latin America and the Caribbean are mature enough so that peace and regional security could depend on a cooperative approach that stresses predictability and transparency in military exercises, decisions and expenditures. Such an approach offers a means to rein in an arms race that would be hostile to the region=s interests. It should also be more effective than any other kind of unilateral restraints over arms sales control taken by individual arms-producing countries, which, while they may be useful, are not sufficient to resolve the potential problem.

This policy must be capable of avoiding the proliferation of conventional arms, of weapons of mass destruction and of all kinds of offensive weapons. It should also lay the foundation for a process of arms control and disarmament which, in my view, Latin America or at least many of its countries seem prepared to accept and commit themselves to. This could indeed be our most important contribution to security in the Americas. I believe that public opinion and our armed forces would support such a process, despite some persistent apprehensions.

In this area, we need to build on our experience under the Treaty of Tlatelolco. It is encouraging to note that, as a complementary measure, the Rio Group, with Mexicos leadership, has proposed and begun negotiation on a convention against the illegal manufacture and trafficking of firearms, ammunition and explosives, clearly a step in the right direction.

It is also encouraging to note how our member countries have committed themselves to seeking a solution to the problem of antipersonnel mines. With the cooperation of various member countries and observers, as well as the Inter-American Defense Board, we hope to eliminate mines from Central America before the end of the century. But we need to do much more. As Secretary General of the OAS, I am making a special call on all member states of the Americas to overcome their hesitations and accept the challenge of the AOttawa Process, whereby in December of this year a treaty to prohibit the production, storage, use and export of antipersonnel mines will be open for signatures.

We have also begun work, in cooperation with the institutions of the inter-American human rights system, on a careful process of examination to seek ways of strengthening that system, both within the context of the current American Convention, and through an evaluation of a broader scenario of change that would adapt it to the new democratic circumstances of the hemisphere, and give it a greater role as the protector of human rights for all the peoples of the Americas.

The assembly will be asked to examine a draft American Declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, prepared by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. Hopefully it will be approved in 1998, to mark the fiftieth anniversary of both the Organization and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man, so that it may serve as a measure of our determination to fight for the respect of multiculturalism and the ethnic diversity of many of our countries.

We should also try to establish a clear role for the OAS in coming to grips with the greatest challenge of all facing the Americas as the century draws to a close: the battle against poverty, and the role of social policy. With the cooperation of the highest authorities, and without overlooking the primary role of the multilateral banks, we are attempting to convert the OAS into the major regional forum in social policy issues. Before the end of the year we will re-launch the annual meetings of ministers of education. It will assume once again the role of examining, assessing and implementing a number of inter-American programs.

With respect to the task of promoting sustainable development, the countries of the Americas took a significant step forward at the presidential summit meeting in Santa Cruz de la Sierra. That meeting succeeded in giving a regional focus to a great number of tasks. Furthermore, it made significant progress toward fulfilling the commitments of Agenda 21, the Barbados Summit and the statements from Miami. The OAS has been assigned the tasks of serving as a forum, coordinating the work of other agencies, providing follow-up and monitoring and developing certain specific programs.

I also want to call your attention to the very promising direction taken by the Inter-American Tourism Congress and the work of the Inter-American Telecommunications Committee, and the growing participation of the private sector in our activities.

With respect to trade, the Secretariat, through its Trade Unit, has continued to provide support under the Tripartite Committee to the working groups created by the series of trade ministers= meetings. Between now and the meeting in Costa Rica next year, the bulk of our work will be focused on defining the objectives, the structure and the site of the negotiations that are to lead, by 2005 at the latest, to establishment of the Free Trade Area of the Americas. The OAS stands ready to lend its cooperation as required in the negotiating phase.

During the past year, Non-Governmental Organizations have contributed tremendously to our debate on issues such as sustainable development and human rights. We have begun to demonstrate that the old habits of confrontation between governments and these entities is now a thing of the past. An OAS working group that examined this area concluded that the Organization=s rules of procedure do give NGOs access to discussions within our institution, but it stressed the need to facilitate their participation and give them greater access to the information that the OAS produces. As part of the modernization process of the OAS, we can and indeed must do more to ensure that public voices can be heard to greater advantage in our deliberations.

With respect to new cooperation institutions, I must note the resounding success of the meeting of the Inter-American Council for Sustainable Development, that was held recently in Mexico. This success was due in large measure to the excellent job done by the host country=s foreign ministry, and the dedicated work of the Executive Committee and the leadership it offered. We can say that we have finally laid the basis for the OAS to become more than just a technical assistance agency, and to convert itself into an organization that will promote cooperation, mobilize resources for horizontal cooperation, and work much more closely with other institutions.

Indeed, it was very satisfying on that occasion to hear the decisions of Chile and Costa Rica that they will henceforth use the resources that they have traditionally received from the OAS to promote cooperation with other countries. The Secretariat hopes that other countries - especially those with relatively greater economic capacity - will tell this Assembly of similar decisions to move gradually toward this goal, even if it is only with respect to the resources that come from their foreign ministries and not those from domestic institutions that contribute voluntary funds. It is only in this way that CIDI can become a powerful tool for inter-American solidarity. This is also the route for giving the OAS a better political balance, as many are now demanding, whereby a significant number of countries can become net donors to our cooperative efforts.

During the last few years, on the administrative front, the Organization has been transforming and restructuring itself to adapt to new issues and new budgetary realities. In the last few months, more than a fifth of our staff have left the institution. Although some areas will no doubt have to be strengthened in the future, I am convinced that the number of permanent employees of the OAS should remain on its downward trend. As has happened in other multilateral organizations, the OAS should rely increasingly on consultants and short-term contracts to carry out work in technical areas.

Similarly, to deal with a problem that has attracted much attention in our countries over the past decade, the General Secretariat has concluded, after detailed examination, that the inter-American centers no longer represent today an ideal way of providing cooperation, and it has proposed suspending contributions from the regular fund for the next fiscal year. This decision, and the process of restructuring its personnel, has put the OAS in much better shape from a budgetary viewpoint. The General Secretariat will contribute to the Organization=s financial stability, by maintaining its policy of budgetary austerity.

The collection of membership quotas in 1996 reached its highest level of the decade. This has allowed us to meet the costs of downsizing and to undertake some new responsibilities. For both 1997 and 1998, it is essential that countries pay their commitments in full, as well as some of their arrears. There is no other way to cover the incremental costs associated with the Organization=s new mandates. In this connection let me say how pleased I am with the effort that member countries are making to ensure timely payment of their contributions.

With respect to the follow-up to the process launched at the Summit of the Americas, the United States Department of State has played an admirable role in providing leadership for the follow-up group and enabling it to reconfirm commitments on the part of new governments, listen to concerns and suggestions, deepen the dialogue, assign new responsibilities and to supervise the execution of the many facets of the plan of action, without ever falling prey to the kind of costly and time-consuming proceduralism that has been the hallmark of our system in the past.

The fact that nearly all of our member countries foreign ministries have been enlisted as coordinators for various themes and events under these mandates is a significant advance that should be maintained. The inter-American system=s institutions today could never substitute for the tremendous contributions that member foreign ministries are making in hosting and arranging these activities.

As to the OAS itself, we have directed much of our effort to carrying out the mandates of the Summit and supporting countries in some of the areas of their national commitments. As already noted, we have launched a profound process of internal reform and reorganization to transform the Organization so that our agenda is in tune with the themes that our member countries have defined, and to be able to handle the increasing responsibilities that have been assigned to us. I have already noted the many tasks that we have undertaken to meet the mandates from the Summit. In addition to these tasks, the OAS is also providing secretariat and technical support services to meetings of ministers of trade, education, sustainable development, labor, social development, science and technology and culture, as well as those responsible for ports and for social investment funds. Support was also provided to interior ministers and ministers of justice, during the negotiations that led to the convention on corruption, and the meeting on terrorism.

We have also tried to implement mechanisms to ensure an orderly and systematic approach to building the inter-American juridical system as a basis for resolving our differences, which are sure to increase as the process of globalization and integration proceeds.

We are increasingly coordinating our work with the IADB and the World Bank and with the institutions of the United Nations system. I would like to point out that the IADB is becoming a very important source of funding for some of our most vital projects in the field of democratic development, thanks primarily to the special interest shown in this work by its president, Enrique Iglesias - who incidentally has honored us with his presence today.

In the space of just a few years, these and many other themes have become the subject of multilateral action and have come to form part of the Organization=s broad agenda. Until very recently, we were struggling to reinforce the role of the OAS as an inter-American forum, trying to generate greater expectations for its future, and to show that this is the proper institution to meet the growing desire for multilateralism.

Today, we are experiencing the opposite phenomenon: we are generating tremendous expectations about what we can do, about the Organization=s possibilities as a center of information, as a forum, as a depository of international treaties that will help to cope with problems in the hemisphere, as executing agency for a multitude of projects of hemispheric scope.

This situation implies enormous responsibilities, and recognition that it is we who must adapt the OAS to these new realities. The most immediate issue is the need to find a way for the OAS to continue reshaping itself and to be more useful in the process launched at the Summit of the Americas, a process that today is becoming the primary source of political mandates in the hemisphere. The Summit to be held next year in Chile will be a crucial moment where the countries of our hemisphere must define the place that the OAS should fill in the search for collective action and in carrying out hemispheric intentions.

If countries agree to rely still more on the OAS, we will face a number of new responsibilities. Therefore, we have a duty to prepare ourselves as much as possible, and to establish how much the OAS can do with its existing human, technical and financial resources and the current legislation and rules governing its operations, and what changes would be necessary to allow it to take on even greater responsibilities. This Lima General Assembly presents us with an excellent opportunity to examine and discuss these issues, so that in the future the OAS can project itself effectively as an appropriate instrument for providing follow-up to the agreements adopted in the summit meetings of presidents and heads of government. That discussion should include the valuable lessons that we have learned during the follow-up process to the first Summit.

Within the OAS, we have discovered that the chances of success for any initiative are increased significantly when the tasks we are assigned are express and specific: when they are ones in which the Organization has experience or a clear comparative advantage; when specialized meetings are held to fulfill the mandate; when there are close communication and coordination at the national level between sectoral ministries and foreign ministries; and when the responsibilities assigned to us are within the scope of our resources and can be managed by our Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Affairs.

I believe that we need to understand more thoroughly the benefits of pursuing multilateral initiatives within multilateral institutions. In this way the work can be institutionalized, and taken on as a series of cumulative projects, thereby reducing the risk of misunderstandings and disparities that are natural among countries of such diverse size and degree of development.

What can we suggest for the next stage, i.e., for following up the mandates that may flow from the Chile Summit?

The Summit process was designed as a process of states and for states. Institutions were assigned a major mission in carrying out specific tasks, but not in follow-up activities. This reflected fears that the sorts of problems that paralyzed the OAS in the days of the cold war, and the spirit of confrontation and rhetoric that dominated it then, would prevent it from responding promptly and effectively to such a vast plan of collective inter-American action.

In this new stage, when the process is tending to become institutionalized and when the OAS has recovered its capacity to undertake certain functions, we believe it is possible to revise the initial scheme with a view to strengthening it.

For this reason, allow me to suggest consideration of the following points:

We need to be assured that the OAS is increasingly capable of fulfilling its role as the principal forum for hemispheric dialogue.

The OAS is developing, within the new Inter-American Council for Sustainable Development, the capacity to serve as a center of documentation and information on the various processes that are moving forward on the agendas of hemispheric meetings. States and their governments need to have a specific facility that can assume the responsibility of compiling documentation, processing it and keeping it updated for all possible needs.

The OAS is in the process of acquiring a capacity to function not only as a center for exchanging experiences, but also as an institution within which to design hemispheric policies and to produce consensus documents on policy recommendations in a variety of areas, as in multilateral institutions such as the OECD.

The OAS, together with other American institutions, can provide the services of a technical secretariat. This is a function that is increasingly in demand at ministerial gatherings and sectoral policy meetings. To take maximum advantage of such meetings of national authorities, they must be able to count on proper preparation of the working documents they need.

The OAS can act for member states as the depository of the institutional memory of the Summit process, and of the agreements reached there, primarily through the secretariat services it provides at ministerial and sectoral meetings. To the extent that the hemispheric summit process takes on greater continuity, it would be useful to establish a clearly defined place in which member states, new governments and the community in general can find a clear record of what has been agreed upon, the documents provided by the secretariats and countries, the statements or points that countries wish to submit, and in general every one of the threads that make up the rich fabric of the process that was born in Miami.

We will need to refine and reinforce the mechanisms that allow the OAS to be the setting and depository of the new agreements that will govern our relations. This is a function that will demand growing attention and resources, but above all a strong political mandate.

It is our duty moreover to help to create a more efficient and expeditious mechanism so that we can swiftly and expressly incorporate mandates from the Summit, through resolutions approved by our General Assemblies. It would also be advisable to give the Secretariat and our Committee on Administrative and Budgetary Affairs the clear authority to make swift and definitive budgetary adjustments.

It will be more important than ever for the institutions of the Inter-American system to create proper systems of communications and information and to carry on with the coordination process underway, not only so that it can execute its work more effectively, but so as to make the best use of scarce resources.

The OAS is committed to a policy of optimizing the use of its resources, which will require countries to take some urgent decisions in the near future about activities that were related to the Organizations former priorities. Depending on the size and scope of its new tasks, alternative sources of funding will need to be examined, outside the traditional system of quotas paid by foreign ministries.

Our reflection about the future of the OAS, which we began in Mexico and are now continuing in Lima, must allow us to advance along the road to transforming the system to meet its new objectives and responsibilities, and to equipping it with the proper tools for responding efficiently to the new expectations and the growing number of mandates entrusted to it.

When, a few days after the presidential summit in Chile, we celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the signing of the Charter of Bogota, we must be sure that we can count on an OAS that is once again at the epicenter of the hemispheric dialogue, and on an Inter-American Council for Sustainable Development that is already equipped to be the principal instrument of inter-American solidarity and cooperation.

Mr. President, Ministers,

I cannot finish my remarks without reiterating my appreciation for the splendid contribution that Peru has made to our Organization. The work and dedication of the Peruvian mission, led so brilliantly by Ambassador Beatriz Ramacciotti, deserves to be recognized and admired by all. Let me also take this opportunity to thank the Peruvian foreign ministry and in particular ambassador Jaime Stiglich, for the many months of dedicated and demanding work that has been put into ensuring the success of this Assembly.

The days ahead of us must serve, not for reflecting about yesterday, but for thinking about tomorrow - a better tomorrow for our younger generations, for our children and for our childrens children, and for all those who live between the Arctic and the Antarctic, in the Andes or the Appalachians, on the pampas, on the prairies or in the islands. To ensure that in every corner of the Americas, people of all origins can reap the fruits of our labor and can look forward to a future of peace and equality, of hope and of progress.

I believe that the peoples of our hemisphere have one world before them. But it is not the wide and alien world of Ciro Alegria. It is for the sake of a more integrated world, a closer and safer world, that we at the OAS are working for the Inter-American cause. Therefore I can only end by citing the poet who once dedicated a song to this city, this melting pot of races, this point of encounter between the Spaniard and the Inca.

A Those whom we join in happiness,
those with whom we unite in misfortune,
we shall always be brothers,
and we shall never be strangers in Lima.

Thank you.

XXVII General Assembly