Media Center



November 5, 2007 - Washington, DC

His Excellency, Dr. Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the OAS,
Ambassador Rudolfo Hugo Gil, Chair of the Permanent Council and Permanent Representative to Argentina,
Distinguished Ambassadors and Alternative Representatives,
Distinguished Delegates of the CIM, Observers and Civil Society,
Executive Secretary of the CIM, Ms. Carmen Lomellin
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to preside over the Inaugural Session of this VII Special Assembly of the CIM. As such, I wish to extend a warm welcome to all present for this important Extraordinary Assembly of CIM Delegates.

As you are aware, this Special Session which has been convened, resulted from a decision taken at our last Assembly of Delegates, held in San Salvador in November 13-15, 2006. In the aftermath of this decision, we have now come together to approve the Declaration of San Salvador on Gender, Violence and HIV; as well as to approve the proposed modifications to the Legal and Juridical Instruments of the CIM.

You may recall that we were unable to complete this aspect of our work at our last Assembly of Delegates because of the intense, extensive and productive discussions which these documents evoked - and the deficit of time in which to adequately address the matter. These discussions, commenced at the last CIM Assembly, have subsequently borne much fruit beyond the ambit of the Assembly. They continued in the working groups convened for this purpose and the ensuing consultations with delegates on this topic. I am sure that you will concur that the results have been well worth the wait.

Regarding the Declaration, I am pleased to acknowledge the efforts of our Immediate Past President of the CIM, Brazilian Delegate Dr. Nilcéa Freire and to thank her for her contribution to this topic. I wish to remind that Dr. Friere was instrumental in bringing this important issue to the Executive Committee during her tenure when she requested that we initiate a dialogue to consider incorporating the issue of the HIV into our agenda from a human rights perspective - and more specifically, from a gender perspective. Dr. Friere was insistent that we take into account the social implications of HIV/AIDS, so as to define effective strategies to help fight against this pandemic which is affecting the world in tragic proportions. The CIM decided that to address the issue in all its magnitude, it would be necessary to venture beyond the health aspects to embrace a multidimensional approach to the disease, underpinned by solid gendered analysis. If you may recall, HIV was the sole topic of the Dialogue of Heads of Delegation at the last Assembly of CIM Delegates held in El Salvador in November 13-15, 2006. Under the leadership of our host country, a robust discussion on the topic ensued which has culminated in this signal and historical Declaration in the hemisphere.

Therefore, I concur with the OAS Secretary General, Dr. Jose Miguel Insulza, who argues that it is of utmost importance that we give immediacy to approving the Declaration, since it clearly expresses the CIM’s position on the issue. Moreover, this Declaration will facilitate further work within the OAS - and even beyond the organization.

Already, the CIM is preoccupied with working in HIV, from the perspective of gender. One of our important initiatives on HIV to develop awareness on the topic, involves the CIM’s coordinating a Special Session of the OAS Permanent Council on HIV, scheduled for March 2008 to bring to the level of the political body within the OAS, the pertinent discourses on the multidimensional aspects of this issue. We will, of course, be strongly highlighting CIM’s specific position that the accelerated spread of HIV is exacerbated by gender-based violence.

Regarding other initiatives on HIV, we will be sponsoring two projects on the intersection of violence against women and HIV. These projects, one for the CARICOM sub-region and the other for Central America, have been presented to funding agencies for consideration. With regard to the Caribbean project, we will be working in partnership with UNIFEM and PAHO. It is our hope that these can be executed in 2008.

On the matter of modification of the Legal and Juridical Instruments of the CIM, these have been amended several times in the history of the CIM. In fact, we ought to be commended for - and satisfied with - the progress that we have made in achieving consensus on this current proposal. History will attest to this, because at one challenging point from 1957 until 1968, it took several Regular and Special Assemblies to have the Legal and Juridical Instruments substantially modified.

Previous modifications to the instruments had been proposed by Mexico and were approved at the CIM Assembly of Delegates in 1998. Consequently, we wish to thank Mexico for displaying a singular commitment to the modernization of the CIM through proposing amendment of its legal instruments.

As I close, I wish us speedy and successful deliberations as we seek to bring closure to a long chapter of negotiations on both the Declaration for HIV and the modification of the Legal Instruments.

I thank You.