Media Center



January 10, 1995 - Washington, DC

"By harnessing the resources that result from collective action, each state can increase the possibility that concrete progress will be achieved at home."

Good afternoon, Ladies and Gentlemen. It is a great honor to be here to discuss the future of the Americas. I want to recognize the important contributions of the Inter-American Dialogue and its president, Mr. Peter Hakim, to the process that was launched in Miami last December. You have enabled a lively and enlightened dialogue leading up to that very important meeting. For this, we are very grateful.
The future of the Hemisphere started almost exactly one month ago as the Summit of the Americas completed its work in Miami. And, to understand what is in store for the Americas in the years to come, all one has to do is read carefully the Declaration of the Miami Summit. Therein lies a concrete and achievable plan of action for the Hemisphere. But before I present to you my interpretation of our future, allow me to set the stage.
First and foremost, the meeting of the 34 heads of state and government was different from any other meeting of this nature in one critical aspect. This was not a meeting between the "haves" and the "have nots" of the Hemisphere. This was not a meeting out of which a "Marshall Plan" or another "Alliance for Progress" for the Hemisphere was launched. This was not a meeting about establishing new flows of traditional assistance.
The political leaders of our Hemisphere came together, on an equal footing, with a deep appreciation that the future of each of our nations is intimately tied to the success of the Hemisphere as a whole. By harnessing the resources that result from collective action, each state can increase the possibility that concrete progress will be achieved at home.
There is much discussion about the relevancy of multilateralism in service of a nation’s agenda. I dare say this debate is healthy and should continue if only to serve as a check against the growth of unnecessary international bureaucracies and as a reminder that no matter how successful an international organization can be, it still remains an agency of its member nations.
However, one of the key messages from the Summit is that without an effective inter-American system, without an indisputable mandate and effective tools that can only be gathered through concerted collective action, the nations of the Hemisphere will not be able to promote and perpetuate the hold of democracy throughout the Hemisphere. Nor will they be able either to secure freedom for all of our people, or even to reconcile differences that impede the free flow of trade which, in turn, will provide the means to achieve social peace and prosperity for an ever-growing number of our peoples.
The point I want to stress is that the Summit of the Americas recognized that multilateral organizations such as the OAS can exercise a great deal of positive influence in international events. They can serve to promote collective action and solidarity. This is truer with each day that goes by.
In the past, nuclear power and the risk of retaliation prevented foolish actions. In the same way today, political rejection by the international community and the potential for multilateral sanctions contribute to the maintenance of order. It is a fact that it is no longer easy to act around the world without the consent of the international community and without a multilateral mandate. In every way, the Miami Summit tore down the wall that separated the North from the South of the Hemisphere and closed a dangerous and fearsome chapter in our history. In the past, our collective action was motivated by fear. Today, enlightened self-interest commands us to draw from our shared values to confront our common challenges.
There is also a very practical reason why the world is moving toward greater reliance on multilateralism. Collective action is more affordable and more efficient that unilateralism, both in economic and political terms. There is very little incentive or political will to expend capital on anything other than problems at home. Governments and their constituents prefer to invest in growth and jobs rather than policing the world. Sharing burdens and distributing the responsibilities in a broad way seems to be the way for today’s international actor to favor progress at home.
What does all this mean for the Hemisphere as we take our first steps into the future? The more American nations refocus their energies to resolve internal problems and advance their national agendas, the more effective action is required from the inter-American system.
In short, effective multilateral action today is highly feasible and cost effective for member states of our organizations. The Summit took advantage of this new reality. However, the OAS’ newly found relevancy as an international organization is not a license to do business as usual. The OAS can no longer be merely a political debating society. The mandates of the Summit are clear and demand real commitment, action and resources. The OAS will transform itself into an agency that can harness the power of collective action in service of our member states, and thereby free up national resources urgently needed at home. This is the will of our nations that was expressed in Miami.
The Miami Declaration of Principles represents a comprehensive view of the Hemisphere we agreed to build together. It can be summarized succinctly as democracy and sustainable development, economic integration and social change. It is not merely an articulation of ideals. It is a concrete plan of action with specific responsibilities assigned. First, we will create the structures and programs necessary to preserve and strengthen the community of democracies of the Americas. But the Miami Summit made it clear that democracy is not only about elections. Now, we must develop the capability to direct resources and expert advice to consolidate the hold of democratic institutions, to secure human rights and freedom, to modernize the state and to ensure transparency throughout society.
The Summit in Miami has clearly expressed the renewed will and commitment to work together to overcome the challenges facing all of the nations of the Americas in meeting the needs of all our people. Terrorism, organized crime, corruption, and drug trafficking can now be faced with all the members of the Hemispheric community forming a united front. In the Declaration of Principles, there are clear and identifiable actions. In each case, we will be following up systematically to implement their initiatives.
Second, the democracies of our Hemisphere have committed themselves to promote prosperity through economic integration and free trade.
The countdown to the year 2005 has already begun. By then, the Americas will have completed the huge task of creating a single marketplace free of tariffs for trade and investment. With a timetable and specific objectives in mind, we can meet this target date if we put aside rhetoric and truly harness our collective action.
We can already say that the basic pieces of the puzzle have been assembled. MERCOSUR, NAFTA, CARICOM, G-3, the Andean Pact and the Central American Common Market and two dozen bilateral trade liberalization agreements already exist. Now, as in a production line, we can move from the manufacturing of components to the assembly stage in order to pull them all together to create the final product, the Free Market of the Americas.
I say we must act quickly, because with time, the current mosaic of trade agreements could become a brake on the movement toward an Hemispheric marketplace. Furthermore, the bilateral process cannot offer viable solutions to potential trade diversion, discrimination against countries not currently included in the free trade agreements, and disincentives to investment as exists under the current situation.
I believe that we must make way for a multilateral strategy that promotes convergence since trade is no longer a matter that can be effectively handled by a single country or through a bilateral process of negotiations.
The multilateral approach could take the form of accessions to an existing sub-regional agreement. Or it could result in the adoption of system aimed at extending all of the benefits of the various existing agreements. Or finally, it could consist of simple liberalization rules that everyone could follow under a so-called standardization system. Perhaps moving toward what ECLAC calls open integration could be beneficial.
In any event, we must quickly confront a major impediment to any integration process. That is lack of information. I speak of the absence of easily accessible data on tariffs, rules of origin, rebate standards and so on. This is a real problem. Information is the fundamental basis for decision-making. Without high-quality information available to all, we will fail to make the sound decisions that will be required.
This disparity is even more pronounced in one of the areas that will need substantial attention if we are to reach the ultimate goal successfully. The OAS, supported by ECLAC and IDB. must study the impact on the smallest countries of joining large trade blocs with wealthier members. We must help the smaller countries in strengthening their technical and negotiating capacity so that they too may take advantage of the movement toward free trade.
The OAS has emerged from the Summit having regained a clear role in trade. We are prepared to contribute significantly to implementing this new Hemispheric agenda.
Our third objective will be to eradicate poverty and discrimination wherever it appears in the Americas. We must invest in our people so that all individuals throughout our Hemisphere have the opportunity to realize their fullest potential. Conferences are already scheduled for this year and next to begin the arduous task of seeking viable solutions to guarantee the full participation of our peoples free of discrimination. It is high time we recognize that there is no more room for well-intentioned rhetoric and that practical solutions must be found to make this possible as quickly as possible.
In observance of the International Decade of the World’s Indigenous People, we will devote critical energies to guaranteeing their access to social services by working with PAHO to develop health reform mechanisms and search for ways to combat the spread of diseases such as AIDS.
We will also establish Hemispheric-wide partnerships to promote education for all our peoples with the aim to eradicate extreme poverty and illiteracy. And resources will be applied to encourage the spread of micro enterprises and small businesses at the grassroots level to enable an ever-growing number of our peoples to participate in our common future.
And finally, the fourth critical element of the agenda of the Americas will be to guarantee sustainable development and conserve our natural environment for future generation. To quote President Clinton, sustainable development "means that we must pursue short term goals, consistent with our enduring means we must pursue individual opportunity consistent with our responsibility to our larger means that we must take for ourselves in ways that leave more for our children."
We will move forward to implement the decisions of the 1992 Rio Summit on the Environment and the 1994 Global Conference on Sustainable Development. To this end, the Miami Summit committed itself to the creation of specific partnerships to strengthen the Hemisphere’s ability to protect our ecosystems, maintain our biodiversity, control pollution, use our natural resources more wisely and to encourage more efficient, clean and sustainable energy production and use.
The inter-American system has been challenged to build an architecture for the Americas that will deliver on the expectations that have been raised in Miami. The IDB, PAHO and the rest of the system will also be hard at work implementing the changes called for in the Declaration of Principles. From telecommunications to health, to social and economic changes, the sister organizations of the inter-American system have earned a unequivocal vote of confidence and a clear mandate. You can expect us to work together to implement the future of the Hemisphere.
Just a few weeks ago, these goals were ideas being actively discussed throughout the Hemisphere. They comprised the hopes and dreams of all our peoples. Today, they are the new reality. This is the future of the Americas. But this future will happen only if we have the tenacity to roll up our sleeves and go to work to make each and every initiative a reality.
As I said during my inauguration as Secretary General of the Organization of American States, I was not elected to manage the status quo. So, I invite you to join me in the daunting task of building a better future for all of the Americas.