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January 12, 2005 - Washington, DC

Translation provided by the Permanent Mission of Mexico to the OAS

Ambassador Manuel Maria Cáceres Cardozo,
Chairman of the Permanent Council,

Ambassador Luigi Einaudi,
Acting Secretary General of the Organization of American States,

Ladies and Gentlemen Permanent Representatives,

Ladies and Gentlemen Representatives of Observer States

Ladies and Gentlemen:

I am grateful for the opportunity of addressing you to present my vision of the Organization of American States, OAS, and my main proposals for a work program for the following years.

I come from a country with a very important trajectory in the construction of international law and the promotion of cooperation as the best guarantees for peace, security and the wellbeing of the peoples of the world. Thus, I must point out that I am fully convinced of the importance of multilateralism. I believe that the joint action of the countries is indispensable to overcome obstacles to peace, security and development that the international community.

It is impossible for a small group of States to find solutions to their demands without modifications to the regional context which affects everyone. International cooperation and coordination among regions and nations, with different levels of development, are features of the new dynamics imposed during this last decade.

In the present circumstances, in which the international community faces serious threats, it is necessary to double our efforts to strengthen the presence of the multilateral bodies --universal and regional-- in the global scenario.

The Organization of American States has had a key position in the development of common values and objectives among the nations of the region, objectives that have been nurtured by the growing number of democratic regimes that are being established. In spite of the progress we all acknowledge, the Organization is at a turning point; our countries face major challenges that must be overcome.

The agenda of the OAS must respond to the concerns and needs of all the member States. This requires overcoming the current situation where the OAS is perceived as unable to fully incorporate the aspirations of the countries with a lower level of development in Central and South American and with insular concerns in the Caribbean.
As we have experienced in recent years, social discontent due to a lack of response to grave problems, such as poverty, inequality and unemployment, represent serious threats to democratic stability in several States of the Hemisphere.

Within the framework of the OAS, an important political agenda has been developed, and it should, no doubt, be strengthened. Nonetheless, the time has come to implement an Agenda for Development with greater conviction, with an ample and comprehensive perspective to balance the political agenda and the agenda for development.

If elected, I will see that the issues attended by the Interamerican Council for Integral Development (CIDI) receive a renewed thrust within the Organization. Thus, I will promote that, through specific actions under the economic, social, educational, cultural, scientific and technological topics, we strengthen the agenda for a development that will complement the political agenda.

The fact that the OAS participates in the Tripartite Committee of the Free Trade Area of the Americas, FTAA, is very significant. Within the scope of the Secretary General’s attributions, I shall propose that under the framework of negations, preference is given to the acknowledgement of a special and differentiated treatment to nations with small economy, with the clear objective that the agreement will be comprehensive and takes into consideration the differences in the level of development and the size of the economies of the Hemisphere through various provisions in the calendar of the commercial adjustment and the constitution of mechanisms for funding.

A closer relationship of the OAS with the Economic Commission for Latin America and The Caribbean and the Inter-American Development Bank is fundamental. I shall submit for the consideration of the General Assembly and the Permanent Council the creation of inter-institutional mechanisms to strengthen the OAS’s links with these bodies.

With regard to social matters, I shall promote the creation of a Special Cooperation Fund of the Americas. This fund, with the cooperation of countries with greater resources, will seek to foster the development of our Continent’s marginalized communities.

It will also complement efforts made by the Hemispheric Cooperation Program, with the purpose of implementing special, differentiated treatment for small economies participating in the FTAA.

The Organization’s mechanisms for dealing with emergencies are insufficient. Every year, the unfortunate, sad scenes we see as a result of the devastating hurricanes that particularly affect the Caribbean islands, and the terrible events in Asia, show us that it is vital to act immediately. It is imperative to find creative solutions to mitigate the effects of natural disasters, as they are phenomena that put people’s safety at risk. Taking a long-term view, it is urgent to strengthen the financial capacity to support States facing such disasters and, at the same time, to develop preventive and civil defense activities to safeguard the largest number of lives possible, responding quickly and effectively.

If I am elected, I will devote my efforts to the constitution of a broader Fund for natural emergencies to quickly respond and minimize the damages caused by them in our region’s countries and territories. As we have seen, the effects of natural disasters are more destructive in poor countries and in countries lacking infrastructure.

Education is an essential element for development, to which the OAS should make a fundamental contribution. For the consideration of the States, I shall submit a Degree grant program, based on the program instituted by Mexico in the OAS within the framework of the Permanent Executive Commission of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development. The purpose of this program will be medium and long term professional training, which may have a multiplying effect on the creation of social and human capital.

I will also promote strategic alliances of the OAS with universities and centers of specialized studies, in order to offer remote education. I particularly intend to sign an agreement with the Latin American Educational Communication Institute, ILCE, by its Spanish acronym, with the purpose of achieving high quality contents and transmissions via existing satellites. Through these actions, I shall devote my energy to promote a project that will represent a substantial contribution in this matter, which is of the utmost importance for the member States.

Sustainable tourism is important for many of the States. The capacity of the General Secretariat for providing assistance in tourism planning and development will be reinforced, and the level of the section devoted to this area should be raised. It is necessary to establish a structure for the development of tourism, and I will draw on the successful experiences of the countries of our region.

In the above-mentioned cooperation-related issues, the Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development will play a priority role. I will work very hard to make the Agency a relevant center for cooperation and development in the Hemisphere. In these efforts, we shall try to increase resources from different sources in other geographical regions, including the permanent observers of the Organization. The Agency should strengthen its capacity to advise members States on project design and execution.

In addition, I will support efforts made to generate the necessary consensus regarding the development of a Social Charter and its Action Plan, to meet the expectations of all the Organization’s member States.

In the Special Conference on Security, held in my country, a multidimensional view was adopted on the new threats, concerns and challenges of the States of the Hemisphere, a concept promoted by the Caribbean countries in Bridgetown, Barbados. This new approach complements the vision of strategic security privileged for decades, but which is no longer sufficient to direct hemispheric cooperation in this field.

Among the new threats, concerns and challenges, aside from terrorism and organized crime, potential damage, among others, that could arise should there be an accident during the maritime transportation of oil or hazardous materials, such as radioactive and toxic wastes. Mexico is a country with a Caribbean shoreline, and the regulation of high-risk traffic is something that concerns us directly. Therefore, we are aware of the need to make progress in this area. We need to adopt the necessary emergency measures to preserve the continental environment. OAS has a key role to play on this issue.

In that conference it was made clear that no State, by itself, can overcome all the threats and that international and regional cooperation are needed. That is why, while paying the necessary attention to fostering cooperation on issues such as fighting drug trafficking, arms trafficking and the fight against terrorism, I will also work to develop formulas or strengthen the existing mechanisms, for the American nations to be able to face the new threats with greater possibilities of success, making sure that the small countries’ security concerns are also reflected.

No State in the Hemisphere is immune to the action of multinational organized crime networks. More than ever before, cooperation is essential for increasing our nations’ capacity to face up to this problem efficiently. I shall promote the work done by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission, CICAD, by its Spanish acronym, and its Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism, which has opened up a new era of trust and cooperation in the fight against the world drug problem. Furthermore, the future adoption of an Action Plan against Multinational Organized Crime, and its effective implementation, will constitute a new avenue of cooperation among the States in the Hemisphere, within the framework of the OAS.

The fight against corruption is at the core in the hemispheric agenda for the Extraordinary Summit of the Americas. I shall promote the strengthening of the Follow-Up Mechanism to the Inter-American Convention against Corruption, as well as the application of the UN Convention on this issue.

I shall promote the cross section incorporation of the perspective of gender in the hemispheric agenda, and the implementation of the Follow-Up Mechanism of the Belem do Pará Convention, at a time when fighting violence against women is a priority for all the States in the Hemisphere.

The OAS has provided important support for the member States’ efforts for the defense and promotion of democracy and respect for human rights. I shall maintain the due priority of these issues, to continue strengthening them in the Organization’s agenda, decisively and without exception promoting the consolidation of democracy and the enforcement of human rights. Our Hemisphere should avoid retracting on these issues. This is a very dear common heritage that we cannot underestimate.

The Democratic Charter is an instrument for guiding the OAS democracy-related actions. Its validity and strength derive from its application in situations of crisis.

If I am elected Secretary General, I commit myself to take before the Permanent Council all those situations that may endanger the free exercise of democracy in our continent.

I shall respect and promote the autonomy and independence of the Inter-American human rights system. I shall seek to strengthen its technical and operational capacities. From my country’s experience, I acknowledge the important contribution made by the Commission and the Inter-American Human Rights Court.

The OAS should contribute to the pacific resolution of controversies among the member States. The Organization is currently participating in various processes of rapprochement and conciliation in territorial, border and maritime boundary disputes. It is a sensitive issue for many countries. I offer active support to the nations that require it, to approach these issues in a constructive and sensitive manner.

In the sphere of internal conflicts where the States request the support of the Organization, and with the guidance of the Permanent Council at all times, we will be able to count on the constructive and objective participation of the Organization.

Mexico has had an important participation in some maritime boundary-related cases, such as in the Conference for the Caribbean Sea, as well as in the solution of conflicts when the parties have so requested. If elected, the yardstick I will use will be all that we have done as a country.

A matter of the greatest importance is the role of the OAS in the Haiti conflict. The Organization should play an active role, finding a short-term solution, and also a medium and long term one, that goes through the political sphere, and through the creation of conditions for sustainable development in that extremely poor nation. It is a matter of paying a historic debt to the Haitian people for the neglect and abandonment they have suffered.

Supporting the organization of fair and transparent elections in Haiti in 2005, with the participation of all the political actors, will undoubtedly be one of the most significant challenges for the OAS.

Facing the immediate future, it is important to learn from past lessons. In any continental or international community action towards Haiti, the role of the Caribbean Community is fundamental. I intend to establish close contact with CARICOM to jointly promote the development of future actions in that country.

To this end and to directly follow-up the topics of this region, I shall establish a Liaison Office for the Caribbean that will depend from the General Secretariat. This with no detriment to the role that the Assistant General Secretary shall play, who, notwithstanding his nationality, will support the General Secretary attending all the agenda of the Organization and responding to the interests of all member states.

The OAS is a regional body. That is why I will do everything that is required for the Organization to strengthen and harmonize its cooperation activities with the United Nations and its specialized bodies.

On the other hand, the OAS will strengthen its institutional presence in the forums and mechanisms of the region, such as the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS), the Central American Integration System (CAIS), the Andean Community of Nations (ACN), and the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR), as well as the Rio Group, the Ibero-American Conference, and the Latin America and Caribbean Summits with the European Union. To that effect, I shall go after a more active participation of the Organization, to promote the necessary synergies and achieve a more unified and coordinated vision of these processes to benefit the region.

Furthermore, the perceptions of all the social actors in the works of the Organization are fundamental. It is important to promote the participation of the civil society organizations of all the member States more actively, with the objective of involving them in the efforts to develop an integral agenda.

To modernize the organization and procedures followed by the Secretariat I will carry out a broad consultation with the member States to ensure that all their concerns are considered, jointly checking that the attention devoted to priority issues on the Organization’s agenda is not diminished.

I also have the intention to promote a better geographic balance of the Organization’s personnel by incorporating to the Secretariat citizens from countries that are under-represented so that will be a more equitable geographic representation.

I am fully aware of the difficult financial situation the OAS faces. Undoubtedly, a fundamental priority is to obtain the necessary resources. It is indispensable to analyze, in an imaginative way, the options that will provide us with a budget adequate to carry out the mandates of the Summits and the General Assembly, as well as to make an in-depth analysis of the agenda required by the Hemisphere. At the same time, the efficient use of resources through the measurement of results obtained must also be ensured.

In the development of this comprehensive agenda, I would like to stress the importance of generating a greater inter-relationship between the OAS as an organization and the Summits of the Americas. If elected as Secretary General, during the next Summit that will be held in Argentina I will propose the Heads of State and Heads of Government to study the convenience that when they meet, in future Summits, the meeting is preceded by a General Assembly before the meeting of Heads of State and Government in the future. The purpose of this would be to institutionalize what is already being done in practice, so that it will be our mandataries who will define the long-term hemispheric agenda.

Mr. Chairman:

The international community is facing today a fundamental challenge to turn multilateralism into the instrument that will allow us to progress in a common agenda, for the benefit of all the peoples of the world. It is not an easy challenge. Nonetheless, recent experiences force us to approach it with urgency.

The current review of the United Nations system, aimed at a reform of the Organization, also gives us the opportunity to reflect upon the need to rethink, with a strategic vision and realism, the role of the OAS vis-à-vis the international and regional situation.

The Organization has been without a General Secretary elect for almost three months. For the Organization to run at its maximum capacity and acknowledging the invaluable work carried out by Ambassador Luigi Einaudi in this difficult time and space, it is necessary that the General Secretary be elected as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, the situation our Organization faces due to the resignation of the Secretary General, and the reason for his resignation, has generated a not so positive perception of OAS which should be corrected rapidly and efficiently.

That is why, trying to recover people’s trust in the Organization, if I’m elected as Secretary General, a position that has never been held by a Mexican, like the Assistant General Secretariat, I shall submit my statement of income before this Permanent Council, with the necessary information to show there has been no abuse, or misappropriation of resources during my service as a public official. I also undertake to update said statement annually.

My experience as Secretary of Foreign Affairs has given me a political vision of the situation and needs of the region, as well as of the importance of constructing a dialogue and consensus. We have been able to reach common positions; by virtue of the fact that the nations of the continent are committed to preserving the values and principles we have defined and consolidated throughout a difficult history. We should now move forward, in order for the effectiveness of democracy to be transformed into development and well being for our peoples.

Thanks to my experience as Secretary of Economy and World Bank official I have developed a practical vision in terms of the management and execution of concrete projects in many of the countries of the region. They have shown that beyond and above politics, it is possible to achieve tangible results.

I believe that in this new test for the Organization, it is indispensable to have a combination of both visions. This facilitates the necessary political leadership and the implementation of practical and imaginative actions, to solve the urgent needs of the nations of the region.

My professional career has taught me that agreements and consensus are achieved through acting independently, considering the interests of all the parties involved and avoiding imposition.

I am certain that the OAS is a primordial forum in the integration of the hemisphere, where the perspectives of developed and developing countries are complemented. My country has a solid relationship with all the sub-regions of the hemisphere: we have a common border with the most powerful economy of the world and Mexico has been able to very successfully implement a free trade agreement; it has a clear sub-regional integration project designed according to the interests of the Central American nations; it is part of the Caribbean and is an active promoter of the full Latin American integration. This experience has convinced me that we can and we must overcome the divergences between advanced and developing countries and create the right framework to advance in the integration and cooperation. I shall promote the required balances so that the actions of the Organization will benefit all the peoples of the Americas.

If I am elected, I will put special emphasis on maintaining a fluent, permanent dialogue with the Permanent Representatives of all member States. Progress in the construction of a strong Organization responsive to everyone’s aspirations requires effective communication, and that is exactly what I intend to have with each of you, with the staff of the General Secretariat, with the representatives of civil society organizations and media representatives.

We are at a crucial point. The historic opportunity is here today. Let us not waste the chance to rescue the presence of the OAS in the regional and international agenda, to strengthen it and put it at the service of the States and the peoples of the Americas. It is with this purpose that I place my personal experience, based on my country’s trajectory, and all my enthusiasm to collaborate in this transcendental task, at the disposal of the Organization and its member States.

Thank you very much.