Media Center



January 30, 2006 - Washington, DC

My delegation first wishes to thank the missions of Mexico and Brazil. The proposals they have presented for discussion have provided us with a solid foundation and positive point of departure for our negotiations in this Special General Assembly. In addition, I must thank the gentlemen who have taken on the tireless task of dealing with the OAS finances over the last year: Ambassador Joshua Sears, Amb. Manuel Cáceres and Ambassador Frank Almaguer. These gentlemen have clearly defined our mission for this assembly and the decisions that we must make.

On December 14 Secretary General Insulza presented us with a vision for the OAS to advance our collective agenda as the premiere political forum in the Western Hemisphere. He also addressed the serious financial situation confronting the Organization today. And the Secretary General ended his remarks today with the commitment that has the most to do with the work of the OAS – greater accountability to reassure Member States that their funds are well spent.

More and more each day, the challenges that face the nations of the region are not contained within their own borders. Member states have increasingly turned to the Inter-American System for solutions, and to the OAS as a guardian of that system. This has placed an enormous demand on this institution to take a more active role in order to successfully advance our shared hemispheric objectives, goals, and values.

The OAS today is vital in addressing the critical areas of:

representative democracy;
human rights;
multidimensional security;
the fight against corruption, terrorism and illegal narcotics;
trade; and, of course,
social development;

Yet all of these achievements and newfound responsibilities come at a price—not a figurative cost—but a real price-tag. In fact the Secretary General has documented the increasing costs of continuing to implement the mandates that we have assigned the OAS.

As OAS Permanent Representatives we often, and necessarily, focus on our political role. However at this meeting we must assume our role as managers of an organization.

The United States supports the goal of arriving at a quota scale that will allow us to move forward and discuss the finances of the organization.
The US quota is 59.47% of the total budget and the U.S. will maintain that level precisely. In the calculation of any revised quota scale that fact must be taken into account. We concur with delegations who have stated that a higher US quota percentage would not be in the best interest of the OAS.

The United States will continue to contribute $44 million to the organization and we are actively seeking to increase this amount, maintaining the quota percentage assigned at the 1990 General Assembly in OASGA resolution 1073. Nevertheless, in addition to our quota contribution, we will continue the practice of providing additional monies to voluntary and specific funds, which has averaged $20 million annually in recent years.

Throughout this process of determining a quota reassessment we must also bear in mind that the perfect mathematical formula to calculate quotas is meaningless unless there is political agreement. In devising a new quota scale, we must take into account certain realities—that countries are likely to resist is a formula that increases their quota dramatically and suddenly. Only political will can lead us to a negotiated solution---not a calculator. We need a political solution. The proposals of Brazil and Mexico provide the serious point of departure for such a solution.

The new Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, has reviewed the budgetary and financial situation of the OAS and has concluded that the time has come to increase the budget of the OAS if it is expected to carry out its mandates. The OAS budget has been straight-lined for the past 11 years while the mandates and tasks assigned to the Organization have increased substantially.

We recognize that the budgetary constraints and the accompanying financial difficulties have had, and will continue to have, a debilitating effect on the General Secretariat. It is obvious that the infrastructure of the OAS is growing weaker as a result of its persistent budgetary constraints. We can no longer ignore the repercussions that this is having on the organization as a whole.

As members, we all have a duty to enable the General Secretariat to carry out the mandates resulting from our General Assemblies and the Summits of the Americas process. We hope, indeed we trust, that we can arrive at a quota scale acceptable to all so that we can move forward toward a decision to raise the budget ceiling and improve the finances of the organization as a whole.

This meeting is vital to finding a solution. The Secretary General is seeking a budget increase in 2007, a goal that has eluded many of his predecessors. We cannot leave this General Assembly without having made the tough choices necessary on the quota reassessment and a budget increase. Both issues require a decision by consensus--they will not be determined by the largest contributors. The direction of this meeting is in the hands of ALL 34 member states.

We have a very short time and must ensure that we do not neglect one important issue for the other. We cannot afford to delay these decisions. At the end of this two day gathering we must make hard, concrete decisions and take action on a way forward.

Thank you very much.