In 2012, the support of Permanent Observers was a crucial element in achieving the goals of the Organization in the areas of promoting democracy, defending human rights, facilitating access to justice, ensuring a multidimensional approach to security and fostering integral development.
During 2012,Permanent Observer financial and in-kind contributions totaled more than US$14.6 million to support OAS technical areas.
During 2012, the deployment of seven Electoral Observation Missions (EOM) were made possible with contributions from France, Italy, Korea, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom: including general elections in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, the Commonwealth of the Bahamas and Belize; municipal elections in Nicaragua and El Salvador; and primary elections in Honduras. Institutional support was also provided to the parliamentary elections in Quebec, Canada, as well as to the primary elections in Paraguay.
In addition, the methodology for observing political electoral funding systems was finalized and applied during five EOM, while the specialized methodology for the incorporation of a gender perspective to EOM was implemented in three countries.
With contributions from France, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the United Kingdom, the Mission to Support the Peace Process (MAPP) in Colombia advanced in the preparation of informational materials to impact on public policy at the national and territorial levels, and the opening of spaces for joint efforts with communities and institutions.
The Mission also positioned itself well regarding the transitional justice process related to land restitution and reintegration support, including the strengthening of monitoring of this process, the generation of tools for data collection, and the analysis of safety conditions in areas targeted for land restitution. In addition, a gender perspective was strengthened in the MAPP, its work with civil society was consolidated, and the Mission was able to accompany the development of a human rights policy throughout Colombia.
The Universal Civil Identity Program in the Americas (PUICA), with financing from Germany, Italy, Korea, Luxembourg, Morocco and Spain, trained more than 2,000 staff members of the National Identification Office in Haiti, and supplied equipment and technology to 141 offices across the country, doubling the number of newborn records in hospitals in two cities in 10 months. Through awareness campaigns, approximately 151,571 people were legally registered and 17,099,416 legal records were issued. In Bolivia, a total of 1,081 birth records and 5,757 birth record corrections were issued, along with 4,297 legal documents; while in Ecuador 4,956 identification cards were issued and registered.
Through the Peace Fund, created in 2000, the OAS Member States are given a mechanism that allows for conflict resolution as contemplated under the OAS Charter, including direct negotiation, good offices, mediation, investigation and conciliation, judicial settlement, arbitration and other mechanisms to which the Parties jointly agree. The Peace Fund continues to work toward the resolution of the Belize-Guatemala border dispute through in-country education campaigns and confidence-building measures as the case moves to adjudication in the International Court of Justice. With cooperation from the European Union, Germany, and Spain, in 2012 the OAS made significant progress in providing technical and political support to the Belize-Guatemala border dispute through conciliation efforts and activities designed to promote the implementation of confidence-building measures.
Defending Human Rights
In the framework of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) Strategic Plan 2011-2015, and with funding from France, the Netherlands and Spain, the Commission has received over 1,925 new petition cases and 452 petitions for precautionary measures, of which 35 were awarded. It also published nine thematic and country reports on topics including the situation of human rights defenders in the Americas; the human rights of persons deprived of liberty; access to justice for victims of sexual violence; the death penalty; afro-descendants; access to information on reproductive health; and legal standards of gender equality and women's rights.
The European Union supported the participation of the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples in regional forums on indigenous peoples, women and their right to prior consultation, and accompanied the visit of the IACHR to Ecuador to obtain additional information on the situation of indigenous victims brought to the Court.
With funds from the European Union, France, Finland and Switzerland, the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression participated in international seminars on access to information, open government, freedom of expression and the rights of children, as well as in conferences on access to information and freedom of expression in Mexico, Brazil, Peru, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, and Haiti.
The Rapporteur on Human Rights Defenders, with the support from Ireland, disseminated its Second Report on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders in the Americas and participated in meetings on mechanisms and challenges on the protection of Human Rights Defenders.
FACILITATING ACCESS TO JUSTICE
With the support of the Netherlands and Spain, the Judicial Facilitators Inter-American Program was expanded to six countries along with the launch of a sub-regional program to support the Parliament in Central America. The Program established a network of 5,673 facilitators, 40% of whom are women. Judicial Facilitators provided access services to 10,000 cases, counseling and mediation services to 30,000 cases, and information on legal processes to more than 100,000 people.
With support from Germany, the OAS implemented the Program of Action on Indigenous Peoples in the Americas, which trains indigenous leaders on issues such as good governance, political participation of women, human rights and logical frameworks for the design and management of development programs.
ENSURING A MULTIDIMENSIONAL APPROACH TO SECURITY
At the Sixth Summit of the Americas, the Heads of Government mandated the OAS to prepare a study on the drug problem in the Americas that analyzes current drug policies and develops alternative approaches using an evidence-based methodology. The purpose of the Report, which was funded in part by the Government of Turkey, is to help Governments to establish a frame of reference to address this problem in their countries and to inform future multilateral policies and actions.
With the support of Italy, Japan, Norway and Spain, in 2012 the Program for Assistance to Demining in Central America (PADCA) organized educational campaigns in Colombia about the risk of mines and unexploded ordnance, promoted awareness campaigns, provided assistance to survivors, and oversaw the implementation of a management quality system and accreditation process of humanitarian demining organizations. The OAS assisted in the clearance of 214,751 square meters, the destruction of 113 explosive devices, and released 715,000 square meters in Colombia.
Fostering Integral Development
In 2012, thanks in part to the support of Spain, Israel and the People’s Republic of China, 442 scholarships were awarded for professional development. Similarly, through Partnership Programs for Education and Training, 530 scholarship opportunities were offered for academic studies. With the support of Luxembourg, 99 new student loans guaranteed by the OAS were awarded through the Leo Rowe Fund.
With partial funding from the People’s Republic of China and Serbia, the OAS organized the First Caribbean Forum for Small Hotels in Antigua and Barbuda, and in conjunction with the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism courses on tourist safety were held in Mexico, Jamaica and El Salvador.
The People’s Republic of China supported the II Inter-American Dialogue of High Authorities of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises to promote the exchange of experiences, the identification of cooperation initiatives, and the discussion of cooperation in public policies and programs to promote competitiveness, innovation and trade opportunities.
With the support of the European Union the OAS implemented, in conjunction with the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), the development of six renewable energy pilot projects in the Caribbean and contributed to the production and distribution of hundreds of clean stoves in Central America. In Honduras, resources from the People’s Republic of China facilitated the implementation of the Early Warning System for Floods in the Aguan River Basin.