Media Center



February 13, 2013 - Washington, DC

It is an honor to receive the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Ban Ki-Moon, on his first official visit to this organization. Excellency, on behalf of the entire inter-American system gathered here at the headquarters of the Organization of American States, I bid you a most cordial welcome. As you all know, Article 1 of the Charter of the OAS declares that “Within the United Nations, the Organization of American States is a regional agency” Therefore I can properly tell you Mi casa es su casa..

The Americas and the United Nations have forged deep and broad cooperation ties, an unparalleled level of collaboration that dates from its creation. Our region, a pioneer of multilateralism, did not hesitate in supporting the new international system that came into being at the San Francisco Conference in 1945. Of the 50 founding member states of the United Nations, 22 are from the Americas and are members of this Organization.

That long-standing multilateral tradition has also given rise to multiple forms of cooperation between us. Our work for the advancement of human rights reached an important milestone with the adoption of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, a forerunner to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations.

Our defense of human rights won us recognition for protecting the citizens of the Americas through the difficult times of dictatorships and domestic strife, and we have been building on those endeavors in recent decades.

For more than 60 years, we have worked together continuously in several conflicts that have threatened peace in our region. We recently marked the 25th anniversary of the “Esquipulas Accords”, that opened the way for peace in Central America. Our organizations joined forces to monitor and verify their compliance, so that Central America might move forward in a climate of peace, cooperation, and solidarity, which unquestionably strengthened the effects and scope of multilateralism.

We also recall the deployment two decades ago of the International Civilian Mission in Haiti in which the two organizations mobilized as one on behalf of our sister republic, and, more recently, of course the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), in which the region's countries adopted a predominant role, in a gesture of hemispheric solidarity with one of the founding nations of our two organizations. We have recognized the leadership of the UN in our joint efforts in Haiti and have played an important role in helping organize, together with you, its full return to democracy.

Today, our region is consolidating its democratic regimes, cementing the rule of law, and experiencing one of the most positive chapters in its economic history. In this endeavor we must thank you for the continued consultations we have had every time a situation – fortunately few in recent years- arises that requires coordination and for the strong support we have received from you on each occasion. Your words and actions have made us feel that we are, indeed, your regional organization.

The Organization of American States and different agencies of the United Nations system have signed more than 20 cooperation agreements in the last decade alone. The United Nations has also worked with us through the participation of ECLAC, the ILO, the UNDP, and PAHO in the Summits of the Americas process, and its support is the most important for this regional dialogue.

We have developed a far-reaching cooperation agenda in the areas of education, gender, climate change, water management, drugs and security, and counter-terrorism, with invaluable results. We hope to continue enhancing our cooperation to complement our strengths and coordinate our efforts every time more effectively.

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Ambassadors, Distinguished Guests

The United Nations and the Organization of American States share a common responsibility where the world's problems are concerned. Protection of human rights, transparency of elections, consolidation of peace and security for our citizens, and integral development for our peoples are universal values that guide our work.

We want a world where the aspirations of our citizens are not stifled by lack of opportunities or by obstacles that restrict the inclusion of societies as dynamic as ours. We want a mutually supportive Americas region that acts in solidarity not only with its members, but with all the nations of the world that work tirelessly to ensure the dignity of their citizens. We want to work together to free our societies from violence and fear; to face the threats of drug trafficking and organized crime that damage our democracies; to allow every citizen of our nations to live in peace and security.

Mr. Secretary-General, we know that those aspirations are as dear to you, as they are to us. Your uncompromising commitment to the values of the United Nations enhances the organizational ties that unite our two organizations and command our grateful admiration.

Welcome again to the House of the Americas and thanks again for this important visit.

Thank you.