A very pleasant afternoon to all:
I am pleased to welcome you to the Thirty-Fifth Model OAS for High Schools. It gives me great pleasure to see so many young leaders and future diplomats in the “House of the Americas”. We welcome this opportunity to contribute to the molding of youthful minds, inspiring in the process the next generation of leaders that will shape the Americas. Thank you for your energy and commitment to this program.
The OAS, as the region's oldest multilateral organization for political discourse and dispute resolution, is an example of active diplomatic practice. Diplomacy is not only important in times of conflict or war, but is even more relevant in times of peace to ensure democracy, prosperity, and security; the same values that this Organization works to preserve. Through these ideals combined with diplomacy in action, the OAS seeks to guarantee the rights of citizens of the Americas, including access to educational and employment opportunities.
We stand at a crucial moment in history, in which the work of international organizations has assumed even greater relevance given the complexities which loom on the international landscape: global financial crises, climate change and global warming, rising unemployment, terrorism and insecurity, discrimination and human rights violations are among the main issues facing our region.
This not only poses questions but also challenges: How can we, as leaders, contribute to shaping the Americas? How relevant can we be in stirring the consciousness of our citizens? We live in an era in which people who feel poorly represented or unjustly infringed resort to Facebook, Twitter and other social media to have their voices heard and their grievances articulated. The Internet and technological advancements have brought a new dynamic of influence and provided audiences with a range of outlets and resources that shape public opinion.
Many of you, I imagine, are thinking about pursuing a career in public service for your country and the Americas, and I encourage you to pursue this goal with the most ardent fervor. As our hemisphere and our world evolve, there is an increasingly poignant role to be played by innovative leaders as contributors to a world of equity, peace and stability…to be steadfast in building consensus through dialogue, towards a hemisphere and world in which the rights of all citizens are guaranteed.
As you will experience through the MOAS, we must focus on finding immediate solutions on multilateral cooperation as strategic necessities of for the Americas today. A country is unlikely to succeed if it takes unilateral action in confronting global issues. Adapting to new challenges and being ready to lead in providing solutions are critical traits of those seeking positive change.
Just as importantly, skills for negotiation are critical in conflict resolution, and listening is perhaps the most critical skill that a leader should have. As you learn through the Model, delegates must understand and represent the positions of their governments, but they must make an effort to listen and understand opposing positions. I am confident that your participation in the MOAS will strengthen your burgeoning leadership skills, and I am hopeful that with the new knowledge and experience acquired, you will become a stronger voice in your school and community on women’s rights, sustainable democracy, peace building, civil society participation, and environmental governance.
We need young leaders like you to shape the future of the Americas, and to keep working for democracy, prosperity and security in our region.
This year we are pleased to welcome the participation of four new high schools to the Model: Bautista de Carolina School (Puerto Rico), Lamatepec School (El Salvador), Aspaen Gimnasio Cartagena (Colombia) and the University of the West Indies (U.W.I.) Open Campus pre-University Center (St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago).
We look forward to engaging new high schools and continuing the promotion of cultural enrichment and networking among the youth of the Americas.
I believe that the MOAS is an excellent hands-on experience to promote leadership and civic duty among the youth, as well as diplomacy as a pathway to resolving common challenges. Participating in a MOAS is a transformative experience. I encourage you to represent your country with diligence and enthusiasm, and to commit to lifelong honing of the knowledge and skills that you would have acquired and dutifully exercised over the next three days.
I wish you the best of luck in your deliberations and proposals, confident that your experience in this MOAS will positively impact your life as a youthful ambassador of your hemisphere, and as a future leader of the Americas.
Thank you very much.