Media Center



October 31, 2016 - Washington, D.C.

Mister Chair,

Canada has always insisted on responsible and efficient management, not just as an end in itself, but to achieve meaningful results in critical areas. These must be in line with our aspirations for the Americas and consistent with the principles to which all member states adhere. The needs outweigh the resources available so we must make real choices.

Achieving these results requires a clear and thoughtful budgetary process. It requires that we, the member states of the OAS, share a vision of where the Organization is going; that we think and act strategically; that we are serious in setting priorities; that we are rigorous in our decisionmaking; and that we ensure full and effective follow-up.

Of course, it also supposes that we plan within our budget means; that we recognize the limits of our institutional capacity; that we avoid the trap of wanting to do all and be all; that we put needs before wants; that we think in hemispheric terms, balancing national aspirations with regional interests.

Canada has worked closely with fellow member states on these principles, and we will continue to do so.

The complexity of the budget exercise makes consensus hard to reach. We have before us clear evidence of that. Let’s remind ourselves that a Special GA is not the forum to discuss budget minutiae. We should be providing broad policy orientation and making the strategic decisions that will allow the Secretariat to execute the OAS’ programming.

Canada wants to see the OAS achieve its potential by focusing on priority, value-added issues. In order to realize this potential, we call on member states to accept the much-needed reform and modernization of the OAS, implementing outstanding recommendations of various working groups, audits, evaluations and other analyses. Priorities must be set and choices made now about which activities should continue to receive support. The current situation of personnel hiring freezes and rolling deferred building maintenance, among others, to address the gap between the budget and available funds, is neither strategic, sustainable, nor in the best interests of the organization.

As one of the largest contributors who always pays its assessed contribution in full and on time, Canada has been fully engaged on budgetary and management modernization efforts to put the OAS on a solid, long term financial footing and to improve its efficiency and effectiveness. We also continue to be a significant donor to specific funds, notwithstanding the increased risk associated to these recently.

As just a few examples of our continued commitment, Canada has provided the Comprehensive Action against Antipersonnel Mines (AICMA) program $1. 3 million over one year to provide the Colombian military with mine action capacity; as well as the Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia (MAPP) for $1M over one year.

Canada also provided $200,000 to the OAS/EOM for the referendum in Colombia this year.

Canada is providing $4,975,000 to the OAS Mission to Support the Fight Against Corruption and Impunity in Honduras (MACCIH).

Canada also provided a $19. 5 million contribution to the OAS Cooperation Plan towards a range of development work, with an $8.0 million contribution previous to that.

We are disappointed that more progress has not been made in implementation of initiatives under the Management Modernization Strategy that would address short and medium term financial issues. We need to press ahead on this.

We are pleased to note that significant payment of some arrears has taken place in 2016 and we hope that this continues. We also recognize, however, that the recent situation has been exacerbated by a reticence of member states to address significant underlying problems which have been regularly highlighted by auditors and other states. We have more than a cash flow challenge on our hands.

As further outlined in the Management Modernization Initiative, Canada believes that other measures must be taken to address shortfalls in 2017 and that no budgetary solutions should left off the table. This needs to include an urgent review of the real estate portfolio of the OAS in its entirety to guide our discussions. Related to this, the recommendation to sell some pieces of real estate with high maintenance costs and using the proceeds to fund infrastructure liabilities are clear priorities. These deferred infrastructure and IT infrastructure issues must be addressed given their negative impacts on employee productivity and safety, the health of the workforce and potential liability of the OAS, amongst other reasons. We must all agree that keeping crumbling, unnecessary infrastructure at the expense of real people to advance the OAS mission is not what we want.

Similarly, an evaluation of the National Offices could be helpful in determining how to achieve the optimal, most cost effective outcomes from the network, ensuring they are used to full potential.

In addition, continuing the overall modernizing of OAS financial management through modern accounting and budget practices is key.

Helping the OAS play to its strengths requires better resourcing of human rights work, where it is unparalleled in the region. The Americas has an established network of human rights mechanisms which bring to life our common values and protect the citizens of our hemisphere. We have clearly heard the appeal of the OAS’ human rights leadership figures and need to find viable, sustainable long term ways to increase financial and other support for their work. This too will mean choices must be made regarding other activities which fit less naturally into the OAS. Canada considers this should be at the top of our list of priorities going forward.

We thank the Chair for the opportunity to contribute to this discussion and look forward to hearing the views of other member states.