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July 15, 2005 - San Martín de Porres University, Lima, Perú

Today, the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza.

He has played an important role in government; under President Erwin Insulza he was the Chilean Ambassador for international cooperation, Director of Economic Affairs of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Vice President of the Agency for Foreign Cooperation. In 1994, under the presidency of Eduardo Frei, Insulza was Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and in September of that year he was named Foreign Minister. In 1999, he was Minister and Secretary General of the Cabinet of the President and the following year he was named Minister of the Interior and Vice President of the Republic by President Ricardo Lagos. When he left his post in May 2005, Minister Insulza had been at the Ministerial level for more than a decade, the longest continued period of tenure for anyone in the history of Chile.

Secretary General, you have the floor, sir.

Thank you very much. Director, ladies and gentlemen, ministers, congressmen, analysts. Armando Villanueva, thank you for being here. Welcome to the organization as always.

Ladies and gentlemen, I welcome all the public of the Americas witnessing this transmission, by radio and television. The subject which brings us together today is precisely one that I have had to face for a little less than two months now that is the present and the future, the prospects of the Inter-American System. I think it is also appropriate that this subject help us for the first lecture of the Americas being held outside the headquarters of the OAS, in Washington, to have it held here in the city of Lima, Peru. As I had occasion to say earlier, there’s a different period in Inter-American system since the signing in 2001 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, in whose preparation or development this country played a preponderant role and also we recall that Peru, the Ambassador of Peru, is the one who pushed things forward as Permanent Chair of the Council of the OAS and promoted the real functioning of this instrument so it’s just a matter of justice that the first mission or reference to it be done here in San Martín de Porres, the university which has been so fundamental also in supporting the Charter.

When we talk about the Inter-American System, I think it is necessary to describe what we are talking about because from a formal point of view I think it is an almost perfect system designed by architects, it has a summit, presidents who meet every three years; the main organization from a political point of view is the Organization of American States, which participates, which has a General Assembly where the foreign ministers meet every year, There is also a permanent council, ambassadors from all the countries, the 84 member countries and a series of meetings through secretarial meetings, the meetings take place throughout the year There is a bank involved, the Inter-American Development Bank. There are certain sectorial organizations: the most important ones, such as the Pan American Health Organization, the Institute of Agricultural Sciences, further to other institutions which are not really part of the Inter-American System but rather part of the United Nations, in the case of the Economic Commission for LA or Thomas Institutions like the Monetary Fund of the World Bank which devote special attention to Latin America. To that of course we have to add the existence of different organizations of the regional level or sub-regional, if you prefer, as is the case of MERCOSUR, CARICOM, the Central American Community, the Andean Community of Nations and the South American Group of Nations. The problem then or/of strength of the Inter-American System is not institutional. When one talks about the Ibero-American Summit nowadays one tries to simplify things though, referring to Rio, the Inter-American Group. There are a number of organizations, which as a whole, in their totality, resolve the problems of the region in certain perspectives. However, very often this institutionalism conceived as a promise on the one hand. How often do citizens of our countries who have had problems, who have been treated unfair say, “I will go to the OAS,” referring to the Committee on Human Rights of the OAS, of course. How often in our countries when there is a problem in the United Nations they also go there. It intervenes as well. That on the one hand is true and on the other, there is a certain perception of distance. The organizations are far away and the problem is how to bring them closer, how to relate them to people, how to make things more functional and better answering to the needs of our citizens. If we look at the Organization of American States, its main problem is not the subjects that the group covers, democracy, human rights, for example, peace and security and development; a trilogy which is almost complete of matters which we should be looking at in terms of the mandates that the chair, the presidency and other organizations contribute. Consequently, when we talk about the relevance or otherwise of the Inter-American System, we are not talking about something which can be criticized formally but rather we are also looking at the needs or the need that this group effectively in a priority manner deals with the problems of the region This is a problem of relevance of the OAS, or whatever system you’d like to call it, and we establish how this can occur. It is very important to look at the condition of the region nowadays because depending on the condition of the region derives this idea that we can also face things from the point of view of international organizations in facing a crisis or certain incapacity to respond. We are not going to go that far back in history, we will merely say that after the decade of the eighties, the so-called lost decades of LA, there were rules hand in hand with an important flourishing of democracy in the region, there were rules, as I said, a series of reform programs, proposals from economic modernization which go hand in hand with the political revitalization that democracy brought with it seemed to promise a new decade or an end of century which was far more positive and more valuable if you will for our region and of course when the promise of the nineties, the beginning of the nineties had been so huge characterized by a return to democracy which happily lasts in most of our countries, the promise had been so big, so important I would say, that the disillusionment was even more so and surveys of the year 2000, large studies on these subjects in the year 2000, showed for example, strong growth in insecurity, in general terms, not only an increase in delinquency which has been a problem in many large cities but also insecurity in employment, economic insecurity, loss of faith in the future, citizens, this was told to us, we found this in a study in the city of Chicago if I am correct, in the year 2000, they thought that the future of their sons was less promising than their own had been. Something that should never happened in our region before. There was also a growth with that of distrust and distrust most surely affects/affected democracy. The last survey Latin Barometer shows that people think democracy does not solve their problems and even more concerning that many people would be willing to change some degree of democracy in exchange for an improvement in their situations in general. They continue believing democracy is the best way, the best form of government but many of them do not believe that what they are living is really a democracy or many do not assign too much relevance in terms of the capacity to resolve the real problems they face. Most surely then, the situation in our region has not been as beneficial as we expected at the beginning of the nineties. But even though there is a recovery, there was a recovery last year, in the economies in the continent and this recovery is extended through this year so far, more reason enan is that there are important weaknesses, bottlenecks, important ones in the economic recovery of our region. So we are not looking at very promising years in the future. Among these bottlenecks, political instability is of course an advantage Latin America has compared to other regions, stability that is, politically. A recent study of ECLA on the objectives of the millennium shows a number of countries which are complying and others which are not complying. Not only are they not complying but they are falling back, they are losing ground, this would be in the achievement of their objectives, in other words, they are further away now of achieving the objectives of the millennium when the president signed the Declaration of the Millennium in the year 2000 here. And those countries are precisely the ones that have suffered political crises; six of them are among the seven which have suffered political crises, the most serious ones in this decade. In other words, those are the countries that in one way or another, for one reason or another, their governments have not concluded the process or their mandates but they have been changed as we say nowadays using institutional mechanisms. And the remainder, the remaining country, even if it is not one of the poorest countries in the region, it is the one in which the percentage of poverty has increased more in recent years. The relationship then, between political instability, economic crisis, poverty, inequality and governance, democratic governance at that, is a very visible relationship a very certain one in our hemisphere That is why it is so important that the summit of Heads of State in Mar del Plata in November this year come to refer to these subjects, employment, poverty and democratic governance. The problem is that we draw useful conclusions, proposals which are useful to get into these subjects which are so much at the heart of Latin America. And some comments on this, what am I trying to say when I speak of democratic governance. I am trying to say two things: first, one has to be demanding in terms of good governance. In other words, we in Latin America, for a long time now, we are, we are not in a period of development of a national state, we do have a situation of many states and many governments which leave a lot to be desired in terms of the delivery to their citizens of the benefits of economic growth and development and democracy in terms of efficacy, in terms of efficiency, in terms of justice and transparency. These crises nowadays are no longer ideological and no longer military either. It is not Camarada López or General Gonzáles who is threatening democracy. It is the citizens who are rebelling this policy when they feel that democracy is not delivering the benefits it has promised. Because in the long run, policy, in its essence, has to do with more than noble ideals. It has to do with what is beneficial for the people, with the achievement of beneficent results. That is why the politicians are there: to solve people’s problems not to create problems for people. We in Latin America have seen many cases of people who do not comply with their premise. And that leads to a crisis in trust, of incredulity, disbelief, which is undermining democracies very substantively. But at the same time, we have to be very careful accepting overnight this rebellion or the rebelliousness as the best manner of having the citizens participate. A journalist asked me today democratic responsibility which you talk about and participatory democracy where people demonstrate down the street and I said that is not participating, that is rebellion and conspires against the second subject of governance as important as the first one. And I am going to say this as I said it this morning, in spite of being obvious, it seemed clear, and that is that governments have to govern. We have to create conditions so that governments can govern. The countries, our countries, in order to progress, to develop, must be governed. This is something we cannot abdicate from, we cannot renounce to it, it must exist in our countries together with democratic guarantees to which all citizens have rights and it is necessary to provide them with these rights. There must be a capability to deliver effectively, transparently, with all the names you like to give it, benefits to the country, to people, in terms of growth, employment, security, etc. something which only a government that governs can do. There is a problem of course, there is volatility and lack of confidence that affects civil society, but in a hemisphere like ours we require political stability as well, to grow and to generate employment. And if we accept that the ups and downs of popularity or unpopularity need a change in governance we are providing too much of an advantage. So on the one hand, we have to recognize that the increase in governance, the quality of public policy is the main challenge in the system but we are trying to come up with proper balance between stability and good government. It is a question of having the governments which are elected democratically today, I am not going to name them. That the great deal of progress made in our region, our governments are all elected democratically, tremendous progress compared to two decades back. So these governments can govern democratically, respecting the rights of people and delivering benefits to the people and to the citizens in terms of growth, employment, public policies which are adequate. This was the big subject of the general assembly of the OAS held recently in Fort Lauderdale. How to verify on the one hand, that democracy be stable and on the other hand, that democracy work. And this is a delicate subject, on a continent which surely has known of subversions but of interventions as well and where it is not easy consequently to talk about, as we say, to be a little light about the need to monitor or supervise democracy provoking fears in some who believe that the one who is going to do the monitoring and supervising is the one that has the power to do it and that we are introducing a new method for intervention The Inter-American System has to be concerned. But effectively, the governments comply with the double requirement of being chosen democratically and govern for the people and at the same time they have to be worried about civility. Now we have a big advantage that I referred to earlier, which is this document subscribed in Lima in 2001, the Inter-American Democratic Charter, that is, a document which very much mentioned but not too well known I believe. When people mention it, when people discuss the document, when they talk about it, it seems that there are only four articles to the document: four articles that say what is to be done in case of a crisis. We call the council; the country is suspended. When many people talk about the democratic charter, they talk about it as though they were just referring to articles 17, 18, 19 and 20. Some of them even know them by heart. But they forget that the Democratic Charter gives us a definition that is more than adequate. It tells us what this hemisphere understands as democracy and as a very central point which consists in recognizing democracy as a right of the peoples of the Americas that the governments have the obligation to promote and defend. It also relates democracy with social, economic and political development. And then it tell us what each country has to do to have democracy and references to separation of powers, human rights and it tells us about justice and the judiciary, electoral systems, political parties; it talks about transparency, about participation of civil society, but it also talks about education and health. Consequently, when one says one has to verify democracy, one is talking about very specific things. There is no possibility in the Democratic Charter that each one defines democracy as he sees fit. It is defined for us. So I would like to have the OAS to monitor democracy in general, that each one of us comes along with his little package of what is happening in his country and some try journeying someplace where some celestial court tells them that their democracy is good or bad and that they got a seven an eight or a nine in terms of grades. But rather, I would prefer the OAS to be capable of verifying or examining how the institutions therein work, institutions of democracy. We have a committee on human rights, of great quality. We have a justice xx of the Americas which work with all the legal systems in the world, in the neighborhood per se, in the regions. We have the capacity to supervise the elections, which is very well known. We have a program on political parties. We have a convention, an Inter-American Convention on Transparency which we signed and are committed to respect. We have a series of mechanisms on participation; we can evaluate, daily, or annually, and see how democracy works in our region, not the democracy in the abstract but specifically how we are complying or not with the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Why? Not to intervene, not to monitor to improve to advise, to facilitate, to anticipate, thus crises can be avoided. To start with we can avoid some crises. If some mechanism of this sort existed when in Ecuador the Supreme Court was suspended in December last year, we could have gone and said, watch it this is a serious problem of separation of powers. You are getting into the institutionality which of necessity is going to have serious consequences. We could have warned; we all saw what was going on. But finally, there was no response and the crisis proved far more costly a few months back. So we can anticipate things and participate and instead we can work with the governments, not in a repressive manner or intervening in any way. We can just say unfortunately, all international studies on transparency are showing a very bad image. This matter of transparency is no great mystery. The tools for the fight against corruption are very well known. They all have surnames, first names. These are declarations of assets of public servants, transparency, system of financing, of policy, limiting expenses, transparency of donations and the existence of public financing. It is a question of laws, which pursue illicit enrichment, and unexplained or unjustified enrichment. These are not difficult things to implement. All we have to do is resort to international organizations which are already implementing a code of ethics or conduct, which ensure transparency and which could be applied perfectly. And the majority of international organizations or governments should be permanently pressuring so that this be applied. We can, then, conduct our American system, the Organization of American States to become not, even though some of our friends in the north liked referring to a watchdog situation of democracy, the watchdog of democracy... no, we do not want that, we want advisors of democracy, consultants, a facilitator of democracy, that’s what we want, the advisor, the consultant of governments so we can go on complying ever better with our activities, our goals and tasks and facilitate or bring our people far closer to the democratic system. There are other areas where coming closer is possible. We talk in the American State in the System about security a great deal, but security in general is referred to terrorist threats to subversive threats, etc. and not to daily life, for daily life situations. In the daily life of people, the subjects are crime, delinquency, the bad functioning of the police in many countries of our continent. This is far more relevant to our citizens. Similarly, natural disasters have far more relevance for the inhabitants of the Caribbean than some things that we are looking at here. So we should involve ourselves in those things as well and also involve ourselves in institutional development. So what we have to do is change the perspective the people bring to the problem, change the profile of the agenda. We work on to involve ourselves far more with the people, what people need from us. I’d like to conclude saying that I do not believe in intervention. Never have interventions or pressure in positions, never have they brought to our hemisphere beneficial results. I believe in reason and in consensus, and I believe that with the support of the governments of the countries which own the system we can make of our organization of American States an instrument which is efficient and bring it closer and make it more useful for all our citizens.

Thank you very much.