Media Center



September 10, 2003 - Washington,DC

Mr. Chairman… Mr. Secretary General… Mr. Assistant Secretary General... Ambassador Maisto… Distinguished representatives… Colleagues and friends...

It’s great to be back in this chair, even for a guest performance.

I feel the same sentiments as I did the very first time I sat behind the “Estados Unidos” sign and addressed the Permanent Council: pride at representing my country here in the House of the Americas, honor at forming part of this increasingly effective organization, and respect for all of our hemispheric neighbors gathered around this table.

Above all, I will never forget my privilege of having served as Chair of the Permanent Council.

Two years ago at my first Permanent Council meeting, I laid out some rather ambitious goals for myself and for the U.S. Mission to the OAS.
I promised that our delegation would remain focused on key hemispheric issues: promoting democracy and economic development, fighting drugs, enhancing hemispheric security, and countering corruption. I even put myself on the spot by listing the payment of the U.S. arrears as a central objective. On that last point, most of you probably thought I was either naive or disingenuous.

Looking back, I can only marvel at what has been accomplished in the past two years, not necessarily by me or the U.S. Delegation but by us, by all of us, by our organization, by all of its components and all of its member states.

Under the chairmanship of Colombia, we drafted and approved the Inter-American Democratic Charter, our roadmap for preserving and enhancing democracy for all citizens of the hemisphere. We responded to the terrible events of September 11, 2001 by reviving the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism, providing it with resources and a plan of action, and setting it to work. The leadership of Peru, Argentina, El Salvador, and now Uruguay has been prominent in this process.

Brazil took the lead in invoking the Rio Treaty as an expression of hemispheric solidarity against terrorism. Mexico chaired the group that drafted the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism, a document that puts our region in the forefront of international efforts to combat this scourge.

Working together in consensus, our delegations crafted Resolution 822 – a roadmap towards a settlement to the political impasse in Haiti, and Resolution 833 to seek a democratic, peaceful, constitutional, and electoral solution to the polarization threatening Venezuela.

Canada played a key part in coordinating the Summit of the Americas process with OAS activities.

The delegations of Chile, Jamaica, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines had a prominent role in working with their colleagues in the CAAP to strengthen the management, personnel system, and financial well being of the OAS.

Our capital reserves have been doubled, we have a reserve fund to maintain our historic buildings and a sizeable capital fund for scholarships, we’ve devoted more funds to education, strengthened the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy, capitalized the Fund for Peace, and have put in motion a management study to guide us in making further reforms.

With the leadership and Nicaragua, Canada, Chile, and Uruguay we opened a constructive dialogue on Cuba, and I hope that we will find a way to continue a constructive, informal dialogue on the role of this Hemisphere in supporting the inevitable transition to democracy in Cuba.

Our delegations worked in close harmony to empower the Inter-American Council on Integral Development in furthering cooperation for development in the Hemisphere.

All of our delegations, every one, can point with pride to these accomplishments. We have shown that multilateral diplomacy works at the OAS – that we can do much more than debate and pass resolutions.

The essential underpinning of all this activity is consensus and the sovereign equality of states – reflecting not just as the way we do business but the fundamental reality that our nations share a common vision and common values. This consensus will unlock the door to countless future successes at the OAS and in the Summit of the Americas process. It will enable us to think regionally and act multilaterally to solve problems and benefit all of our citizens. This is “multilateralism that works,” and my government values this effective forum.

The efforts of our delegations would be for naught if we could not count on the professionalism, skill, and dedication of the OAS Secretariat. Speaking personally, I am honored to be a former member of the OAS staff and consider myself privileged to have once again been associated with so talented a group of people.

To my colleagues around this table, let me say that each of you taught me a thing or two about being a better diplomat. I do not say this to flatter you but to hold you accountable for any mistakes I have made along the way.

Superbly led by Secretary General Gaviria and Assistant Secretary General Einaudi, each and every employee of the OAS deserves our deepest thanks and appreciation. Secretary General Gaviria is an able political strategist and tactician who always seems to be five or six moves ahead of the rest of us. Singling out Ambassador Einaudi and Ana O’Brien – both are indispensable resources for all of us – to me, they have been loyal and trusted friends.

Likewise, I would like to express my gratitude to the members of the United States Mission to the OAS – past and present – for their dedicated service to their country and to the cause of hemispheric cooperation. I am delighted to have been replaced by Ambassador Maisto, one of the most experienced and skilled diplomats the United States possesses, and I wish him and his team the very best of luck.

Mr. Chairman… Colleagues and Friends… Let me end off where I began. It has been a privilege and an honor to be a member of the OAS community. I will say, “Thank you.” I will say, “Best wishes.” I will say, “Good luck.” But I will not say, “Goodbye.”