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Mr. President, The Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs of St. Kitts and Nevis,
Your Excellencies and Honorable Ministers of Foreign Affairs,
Distinguished Heads of Delegations,
Distinguished Secretary General, Dr. Jose Miguel Insulza,
Distinguished Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Luigi Einaudi,
Distinguished Permanent Representatives,
Distinguished Permanent Observers,
Distinguished Representatives of International and Regional Organizations,
Distinguished Alternate Representatives and Delegates,
Distinguished Representatives from civil society organizations,
OAS Staff Members,
Representatives of the Media,
Specially Invited Guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Amigas y amigos todos,

I thank you Honorable Minister of Foreign Affairs of St. Kitts and Nevis and President of this General Assembly for the kind words of introduction.

I also thank all the delegations that have offered their congratulations upon my election to this post. I take good note of your advice, and, rest assured, I will be guided by the perspectives expressed by member states.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is with a deep sense of humility that I accept the honour you have bestowed upon me today in electing me as the 8th Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States. I do this in honor of my parents, who have taught me important lessons of hard and dedicated work, fairness and justice, and above all honesty and integrity,

This is an honour not only for my self and my family, but also for the Government and People of the Republic of Suriname, and the entire Caribbean Community (CARICOM), whose candidate I was.

I take this opportunity to express my sincere thanks and appreciation to the President of the Republic of Suriname, His Excellency Ronald Runaldo Venetiaan and to Suriname’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Her Excellency Maria Elizabeth Levens, for their unstinting support and efforts the past eighteen months.

I wish to put also on record my deepest appreciation to the Heads of Government of the Caribbean Community and Ministers of Foreign Affairs who have entrusted the trust and confidence in me by reiterating the Community’s endorsement of my nomination, and to those Governments which actively campaigned on my behalf.

I would also like to thank those colleagues who assisted with their technical and political advice and support.

Finally, but certainly not the least important, a heartfelt thanks to my better half, my wife Charmaine and my daughters, who were my mainstay throughout this campaign.

Mr. President,
Distinguished Ministers and Heads of Delegation,

My election to this post transcends purely national or regional considerations. I stand here today as the Assistant Secretary General-elect for all the nations of our organization and I fully intend to repay your trust in me by working to the best of my abilities to make the OAS stronger and more responsive to the wishes and needs of all its members.

I offer my very best wishes to Dr. Ernesto Leal, the Nicaraguan candidate, who joined me recently in the lection race for the position pf Assistant Secretary General.

Dr. Leal we know your qualifications and experience on inter-american matters. You have been indeed a formidable candidate and I thank you for keeping me and my campaign staff at the edge in the past weeks.

I also wish to extend my sincere appreciation to the Foreign Minister of Paraguay, her Excellency Leila Rachid, who in an early stage was presented as a candidature and who given circumstances withdrew her candidacy.

I thank Minister Leila Rachid for her interest and for the solidarity she has offered to me, Suriname and the Caribbean Community.

Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,

The OAS, as the premier forum in the Western Hemisphere for political dialogue and cooperation, now needs to underline its relevance by developing a forward-looking agenda that responds to changing political, social, economic and security realities in the various sub-regions of the Americas and the world.

For the nations of the Americas the OAS is a unique and common vehicle for resolving differences and setting shared goals that promote democracy, respect for the rule of law, social justice and economic development.

In my view, the OAS will only truly fulfill its hemispheric role with the active involvement of all members. This role should begin with a firm commitment to helping states maintain democracy and good governance, uphold human rights, promote social justice and equality, build sustainable economies and reduce poverty. In short, the recognition of the multidimensional nature of security and development.

We need an inclusive approach that will create the necessary support through stronger partnerships. I believe the OAS has many instruments to engage in this process of peace building, the foremost being the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

By strengthening a culture of cooperation, communication and transparency, so ably set by current Assistant Secretary General Einaudi, and by maximizing the efficient use of the organization’s capacity and resources, we will create ownership at all levels in the OAS. I believe that this is a fundamental requirement for this organization to perform at the highest level.

Mr. President,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I intend to do my utmost to uphold the principles of our founding Charter and to enhance the effectiveness and relevancy of the Inter-American System. Through a targeted process of modernization, restructuring and efficiency measures, we will improve our delivery capacity as well as the political functions of the OAS, while member states are expected to decide firmly sooner than later on the appropriate levels of funding.

The OAS needs to continue its good work in combating illegal drug trafficking and transnational crime, promoting transparency and continuing the fight against corruption, dealing with the effects of HIV/Aids in collaboration with the Pan American Health Organization, as well as promoting pre-emptive action to mitigate the impact of natural disasters.

All these challenges and intentions cannot be achieved by the OAS alone. The responsibility and demands clearly exceed our financial and institutional means.

Therefore, I am particularly interested in strengthening relations and expanding collaboration among the inter-American institutions, and I therefore support strongly Dr Insulza’s call for an intensified consultative process among regional and sub-regional institutions and specialized agencies. This will provide, for example, an important platform to execute mandates of the Summit of the Americas, in a much more coordinated manner.

I also call for increased collaboration with governments and organizations beyond our own hemisphere as well as strengthening the public outreach.

Secretary General Don Jose Miguel Insulza, I congratulate you with your recent assumption of your duties at the helm of this Organization and I am privileged to be part of that team. I thank you for your confidence in me, and your readiness to have me on board in this critical phase of our organization’s evolution. You already have expressed important objectives and thoughts. I share your vision and look forward to working with you, as a team, over the next five years to advance our common hemispheric agenda.

Two days ago, during the Opening Ceremony of this 35th Regular General Assembly we heard the current Assistant Secretary General laying out the parameters for multilateralism and for a successful application of this in the OAS. We – I – take good note of those observations so important in making this hemispheric body relevant to its membership.

Let me place on record my sincere and deepest appreciation for the tremendous job done by Ambassador Luigi Einaudi, both as Assistant Secretary General and as Acting Secretary General during a particularly difficult time for the OAS.

I value the work you have done over past months, upon which we can further build now, highly.

I have been privileged to work with you and know first hand your dedication and loyalty to the OAS and the Peoples of the Americas. I have learned much from working with you and I thank you for your sage counsel and willingness to share your vast experience and knowledge with me. We will keep in touch and I wish you and Carol the very best for the future.

Allow me also to pay tribute to previous Assistant Secretaries General, who have similarly made their mark and risen to the occasion in exercising leadership and strengthening the inter-American community. In this regard, I particularly wish to acknowledge and salute my predecessors from the Caribbean – Ambassador Val McComie of Barbados and Ambassador Christopher Thomas of Trinidad and Tobago, for their excellent service to the OAS

I also want to include in my thanks an often forgotten group, the staff members of the Organization, who in the past years have performed, often under difficult circumstances. We have good people working for the OAS, and I look forward working with them over the coming five years to make the OAS stronger and deliver in a timely manner more and higher output.

Mr. President,
Distinguished Ministers of Foreign Affairs,
Ladies and gentlemen,

I stand ready to start with the real challenge of serving our hemispheric Organization and I pledge to serve the Hemisphere and the entire OAS membership to the best of my abilities.

Ministers and Heads of Delegations, I thank you again for your trust and the high honour you have accorded me.

Muchas gracias. Muito obrigado. Merci beaucoup. Thank you.