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Speeches

NESTOR MENDEZ, ASSISTANT SECRETARY GENERAL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
TO THE 46TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY

June 13, 2016 - Santp Domingo, Dominican Republic


His Excellency Danilo Medina, President of the Dominican Republic; Her Excellency Cándida Montilla de Medina, First Lady of the Republic; Her Excellency Margarita Cedeño de Fernández, Vice President of the Dominican Republic; His Excellency Andrés Navarro García, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic;

Ministers, senior public officials, heads of delegation, ambassadors, permanent representatives, and observers; distinguished presidents and directors of inter-American and international organizations; and my dear friend, the Assistant Secretary General:

If, by the year 2030, we want to leave poverty as we now know it behind us and to become a hemisphere of equity, where production and consumption patterns are transformed and make way for more sustainable models of coexistence, we must begin taking steps in that direction right away, and in that regard, we face a clear cultural and ethical challenge.

Progressing toward comprehensive sustainability in our hemisphere requires institutional transformation to realign the goals we are pursuing with the institutional underpinnings needed to attain them.

When the UN adopted the 2030 Agenda, with its 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs), it in fact created a clear roadmap for the actions to be taken by all our governments and their development partners at the national, regional, and international levels.

This new agenda posits that initiatives to end poverty in all its dimensions must be accompanied by strategies to encourage economic growth and address a series of social needs, including:

· gender equality,

· access to quality education,

· access to health and wellbeing, and

· access to opportunities for employment and economic development.


Sustainable development is an intrinsic element in a new model of ethics in governance.

Placing the common good at the forefront, above personal interests or perpetuation of power, is the essential and unavoidable starting point if we wish to be consistent with the 2030 goals.

I would say the same about the actions of businesses. Although profit guides the actions of the private sector, an ever-increasing number of business leaders have realized that the common good and environmental sustainability are becoming, in practice, their license to operate.

Nevertheless, in societies where conflict is permanent and the resolution of problems is incidental, uncertainty will constantly gain ground and will make it increasingly difficult to attain a shared future of sustainability.

The right to comprehensive sustainability is not only necessary for our generation; it is also a vital necessity for our children’s and our grandchildren’s generation.

We have an obligation, a responsibility, and a duty to ensure that future generations are able to choose a development model that is different from the current one. We therefore cannot leave them a mortally wounded planet, a shredded social fabric, an economic model with the market as the sole compass, and a political system based on short-term values.

Quite the contrary: we must decisively involve our youth so that young people can be the architects of their own destiny, and so as to create viable conditions for transformation and transition toward societies geared towards the common good and a higher quality of life, where rights are extended to all citizens.

We will advance in that direction, through our day-to-day efforts, if we build consensus instead of conflicts; if we solve problems instead of aggravating them; if we expand the enjoyment of rights to ever more people instead of curtailing them; if we include ever more people in productive processes and their benefits instead of excluding them; if the state and the market can come together to place people’s interests at the forefront.

The time has come for race, place of birth, gender, and sexual orientation to stop being obstacles that separate people from opportunities for progress in our hemisphere.

The Declaration of Santo Domingo will faithfully reflect the sense that the multidimensional challenges—economic, social, and environmental—of sustainable development must be addressed by innovative institutions, where sectoral interests relocate to the crosscutting dimension where values such as equity, inclusion, and shared prosperity are foremost.

Our hemisphere remains, even today, one of the world’s most unequal regions. Inefficiencies in the distribution of incomes, goods, access to basic services, and justice have been a constant factor that directly affects the full enjoyment of our citizens’ political, economic, social, and cultural rights and have a negative impact on the stability of our democracies.

For that reason, it is critical that we maintain the levels of social progress achieved in recent years.

The General Secretariat has cooperated with a variety of stakeholders from organized civil society, setting a clear example of how, by working together, we can move forward in attaining shared goals in the Americas.

The citizenry, as an agent of change and a key player in democratic societies, is demanding ever greater access to the comprehensive, high-quality information held by the authorities at all echelons of the public sector. That means having trained public servants who can help build public trust by assuring interested parties the broadest and easiest access to it.

We are committed to the continued promotion of the Inter-American Model Law, complemented by the Inter-American Program on Access to Public Information slated for adoption by this General Assembly.

Information and communication technologies (ICTs) are one of the main tools for building societies that are more transparent, more open, and better informed, and regarding which the Declaration of Santo Domingo calls for the promotion of equitable access with efficient use of available resources. That is also one of the priorities of the government of the Dominican Republic and obviously, as a basic concept in the Americas, we offer all the inter-American system’s support and willingness to cooperate in such cases.

It is equally clear that the use of technologies must also be guaranteed by all our governments with appropriate systems for the protection of personal data.

We should not forget that the General Assembly has itself reaffirmed the importance of protecting personal data and respecting the right to privacy.

In the Organization of American States, we have basic elements for the development of our peoples and fundamental instruments for democracy and democratization in order to protect human rights.

The OAS also carries out programs for peace that play a key role in that transition toward a more sustainable hemisphere. The Belize-Guatemala process is without a doubt one of our priorities, particularly because it is the only territorial dispute that is being mediated by the OAS.

In addition, our support for the peace process in Colombia through the MAPP-OAS mission is an unequivocal indication of our unshakable commitment toward that noble objective.

We must continue working at the community level, as we are doing with our judicial facilitators project.

We must continue pursuing the flagship projects that we have put forward for this administration—the School of Government, the Inter-American Education System, and the Natural Disaster Prevention and Management in the Caribbean and Central America initiative; and we must also work to combat corruption in the hemisphere, a disease that oftentimes threatens our democracies and where our efforts are vital. In this case an all-out attack is needed – a fight using the mechanisms that we have: the Inter-American Convention and the MESICIC, the follow-up mechanism, as well as the support mechanism we have created for the MACCIH.

We must strive for coherence, for coherence with our principles. If we call for inclusive, effective, responsible, transparent, and just institutions elsewhere, let us do the same within our own Organization.

That is what I am calling for today: I invite you to consolidate the OAS as an organization guided by principles and a shared vision of democracy, human rights, multidimensional security, and integral development.

For our collective action to build solutions, peace, and solidarity.

Let us embark together on the path that goes from the written word to action. Let us combine words and deeds and thereby bring the Organization of American States ever closer to people.

THANK YOU.