Media Center



January 30, 2006 - Washington, DC

Mr. Chairman,

Allow me to congratulate you on your election as Chair of this important Special Session of the General Assembly. Let me assure you of my delegation’s support in your task - and the duty of all of us here - to ensure a successful outcome of our meeting.

The special session is convened to address critical issues for the sustainability of our Organization. Last June, in Fort Lauderdale, we agreed on the need to review the scale of quota assessments, establish a budget level for 2007 and look at ways to improve the financial situation of the OAS. All of these are key factors in allowing the OAS to fulfill its crucial mandate in the hemisphere effectively. We must tackle these issues constructively and move forward to get our house in order and establish a sound financial basis for the Organization.

In Canada’s view, a solid financial foundation for the OAS rests on four building blocks:
a) adopting a new, fair and equitable scale of quota assessments, b) addressing the issue of timely payment of quotas, c) ensuring that financial resources of the Organization are adequate and well targeted to meet the needs of the Organization and d) enhancing the effectiveness, accountability and transparency of the Organization.

Scale of quota assessments
The revision of the scale of quota assessments is long overdue. Maintaining the current scale perpetuates unfair distortions and undermines the effectiveness of the OAS, is unfair and counter-productive. The adoption of a new scale is of paramount importance to distribute fairly the burden of the expenses among Member States. We have been working on this issue for many years. It is time that we arrive at a solution . Canada has participated actively in the numerous debates we have had on this issue. We believe that the OAS should continue to base its scale on the UN’s as this is a tried and true method. There is no question that the introduction of a new scale will require adjustments, flexibility and compromise.

In other words - no matter what methodology we work out - it is political will that will open the way to a solution. Without political will – we will fail.

Timely Payment of quotas
As we consider how to address the current financial crisis of the OAS, the timely payment of quotas arrears takes on a particular relevance. It is difficult to contemplate increases in financial resources for the Organization or shifting the burden of expenses without also recalling the need to minimize the shortfall in the Organization’s resources caused by unpaid quotas and accumulated arrears. As of last count, arrears amounted to approximately 18.5 million dollars. These are important missing resources which would help address pressing needs, if they were available. It is evident that the payment by Member States of dues to the Organization, on time and in full, would go a long way towards alleviating the OAS’ financial plight.

We appreciate that countries do not fall behind on their payments because they want to - they have usually experienced financial or economic difficulties. Our intent is to help them become current again. Here again we can build on the good work that has been done before. At the General Assembly in 2000 in Windsor, Ministers agreed to a number of measures to promote timely payment of quotas . My delegation would like to suggest that the Secretary General evaluate existing measures and examine new ones, to be considered by the June 2006 General Assembly

Budget level and OAS restructuring
We all recognize that the current budgetary situation of the Organization is difficult. Multiplying mandates, including those emanating from the Summit process, have translated into increasing pressures on the OAS Regular Fund. If we want the OAS to continue to be an effective instrument for advancing hemispheric priorities, we need to ensure that it possesses adequate resources.

However But these resources must also be used responsibly, and effectively and in a transparent manner. Sound fiscal management and continued reform of the organization are all part of this equation. We also must ensure that these funds are allotted to the areas of activities of the OAS that are of priority to its member states. In this context, Canada also wishes to demonstrate its strong support of the recent efforts made by Secretary General José Miguel Insulza to modernize the General Secretariat of the OAS. We believe that the new structure will enhance accountability and transparency and will reduce duplication of efforts. This should allow the OAS to maximize the impact of its limited resources. Secretary Insulza’s reorganization It is also welcomed as it strives to have the OAS focus on the priorities of member states: democracy and human rights, integral development and multidimensional security. Further efforts and adjustments will be needed - especially in light of any new budgetary levels that we might approve, but the new structure is an important step in the right direction.

With these important reform efforts underway, Canada is convinced that the OAS will be better placed to manage pressures on the Organization. With respect to the call for a budget increase, Canada continues to advocate budgetary restraint and zero nominal growth for all international organizations, including the OAS. However, if all member states agree to demonstrate their serious commitment to the OAS, Canada will not block consensus for a modest and reasonable budget increase.

So, Mr. Chairman, The Organization is at a crossroads. This is not an other preparatory session or a rehearsal. The decisions we make today and tomorrow will have a direct impact on the future of the OAS as a dynamic, relevant and unique Organization dedicated to the well-being of our people.
I wish to assure you, Mr. Chair, that the Canadian delegation will do everything possible to ensure success in this difficult but essential task.

Thank you.