Media Center



June 10, 2003 - Santiago, Chile


Madam Chair,
I would first of all, on behalf of the Government and people of the Republic of Suriname, like to thank the Government and people of your beautiful country Chile for your hospitality and the splendid way in which you have organised this year's annual meeting of this august body.

I take this opportunity to congratulate you on your election as Chairperson of this General Assembly. It gives me great pleasure to congratulate yet another woman as Chairperson of the OAS General Assembly. We have, thus, had chairwomen for two consecutive years. I hope this means that our countries are on the right track with regard to implementing article 28 of the Democratic Charter on the promotion of full and equal participation of women in the political structures of our countries as a fundamental element in the promotion and exercise of a democratic culture.

Madam chair,
Democratic governance is one of the main pillars of our Organisation. Article 26 of the Democratic Charter states that: "democracy is a way of life based on liberty and enhancement of economic, social, and cultural conditions for the peoples of the Americas".

However, our hemisphere is faced with the reality of globalization and trade liberalisation, which bring the promise of prosperity, but have so far left most of us with more disadvantages than benefits. With the economic difficulties that most of us are currently facing, the lack of proper social safety nets for our citizens, and the recent shift of focus from development to security issues, we are not yet able to offer our people the democratic way of life based on liberty and improved economic and social conditions as set out in the Democratic Charter. We should therefore not lose sight of the most critical development issues for our countries. It is, thus essential that we work together with the rest of the international community and that we all live up to our international commitments to reach these goals. The discussion on "Democratic Governance in the Americas" comes at a time when many question the use of multilateral diplomacy and multilateral institutions.

At present, the United Nations, the World Trade Organisation and some other leading international institutions are facing diplomatic difficulties. The OAS needs to be watchful that this international political trend does not affect nor destroy the many political and diplomatic achievements we have reached in this Organisation. The practice of coalition building and consensus established in the OAS has for some time now been the essence of democratic action in the Americas, and this needs to prevail.

Madam Chair,
Democracy, good governance, respect for human rights, international law, peaceful resolution of international disputes, refraining from threat or use of force and full respect for sovereignty and territorial integrity of all states have always been the principles guiding our thoughts and international actions. These basic principles have always been at the center of Suriname’s foreign policy. We are therefore very happy and satisfied to see them respected and serving as cornerstones and guiding principles of OAS relations and cooperation.

The status of democracy in our region is not yet satisfactory and it undoubtedly still deserves some form of sustenance, but we could nevertheless be proud of the achievements we have had so far. We can all be proud of the document: “the Inter-American Democratic Charter”, which states in Article 1 that “the Peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy” and I add: the right to social and economic development.

The OAS needs to continue its work and responsibility as the sole organ in our hemisphere devoted to the protection of hemispheric democracy. The need for the good offices of the OAS to help people and governments of the Americas to overcome institutional problems will always persist, because there are always going to be threats to democratic institutions. It is therefore important to prove our commitment to the democratic objectives of this organisation, so there will not be any question nor any ambiguity, about the consensus of this Organisation with respect to the protection of democracy in the Americas.

And of course, to have "Democratic Governance in the Americas" we have to start this process at the national level. We are aware that the main responsibility for the success of democratic systems rests with national elected authorities.

We should make sure that all national actors are involved in the democratic process. At the international level, we should see to it that we all live up to our commitments, and continue to improve democratic processes.

Madam chair,
The OAS is certainly on the right track and needs to stay the most effective regional and multilateral example to resolve political differences and offer opportunities for peace, democracy and freedom for all our peoples.

Thank you!