Secretary General

Inauguration of Luis Almagro as OAS General Secretary

Washington, D.C., May 26, 2015

The Secretary General of the hemispheric institution announced he will work with all the countries of the region "without exception" and expressed his conviction that "it is time to put an end to unnecessary fragmentations. Beginning on May 26, as Secretary General of the OAS, my efforts will be focused on making the Organization a useful tool in the interests of all the peoples of the Americas, wherever they are from," he said.

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Luis Almagro Lemes


Luis Almagro Lemes

Secretary General

Luis Almagro Lemes was elected Secretary General of the Organization of American States on March 18, 2015, with the unanimous support of 33 of 34 member states, and one abstention. Upon taking leadership of the OAS, he announced that one of the central themes of his mandate will be “more rights for more people,” and that he would work to bring the Organization closer to the new realities in the Hemisphere and contribute to ensuring more democracy, security and prosperity for all.

A career diplomat, Almagro was Foreign Minister of Uruguay from 2010 to March 1, 2015, and has extensive regional and international experience. In addition, he was elected Senator in the national elections in Uruguay in October 2014.

His time at the head of Uruguayan diplomacy was characterized by activism in defense of human and civil rights at the regional and global level, the insertion of Uruguay into non-traditional markets, the diversification of these markets, and the strengthening of the image of Uruguay as a democratic, fair, tolerant, and diverse society, with ever increasing rights for more Uruguayans.

As Foreign Minister for President José Mujíca, he defined several emblematic initiatives that put the small South American country on the global map, from receiving former prisoners from Guantanamo, to welcoming dozens of Syrian families who had been victims of the country´s conflict, to building support in the United Nations so that, beginning in 2016, Uruguay will become part of the Security Council.

Moreover, Uruguay has maintained its presence in Haiti to ensure the continuity of the process of reconstruction in the country following the devastating earthquake of 2010.

Knowledgeable about the new regional alignments, Almagro was an active participant in the consolidation of UNASUR and CELAC and as member of the special UNASUR delegation to Venezuela in 2014 he was recognized as an advocate of dialogue between the government and the opposition to stop the violence at that moment.

As a consensus builder in the region and at the same time a driver of new initiatives, during his term at the head of the country´s diplomacy, he achieved the long-desired entry of citrus products into the United States, a key market for the sector, while moving forward with bilateral cooperation programs in areas of scientific-technical innovation.

For its part, Uruguay developed specific programs of cooperation for development with Bolivia, Paraguay, and several African nations in the context of the vision of international solidarity that characterized the term of the former Foreign Minister.

Mister Almagro was also Ambassador to China for five years, after occupying senior diplomatic posts in the Foreign Ministry of his country, and in the Embassies of Uruguay in Germany and Iran.

In 2014 Foreign Policy magazine named him a Leading Global Thinker, one of ten decision-makers in the world who have been granted this international distinction.

Almagro, a lawyer by profession, is married and has seven children. In addition to Spanish, he speaks English and French.

Journal Articles

Op-eds

2019

  • “Freedom Flame of Expression” Award by the Center for the Study of Regulations in Telecommunications in Latin America (CERTAL).
  • Americas Society Gold Medal.
  • AJC Champion of Democracy Award by American Jewish Committee (AJC).
  • CHLI Ileana Ros-Lehtinen International Leadership Award by Congressional Hispanic Leadership Institute (CHLI).
  • Global Equality Champion por el Human Rights Campaign.
  • Romulo Betancourt Prize for Democratic Diplomacy por el Human Rights Foundation.
  • Honorary Membership Rotary Club Bethesda-Chevy Chase, by Rotary International, April 2019.

2018

  • 16 de marzo -Recibió el VIII Premio FAES de la Libertad. En honor a la labor de defensa de los valores y la democracia que lleva a cabo el Secretario General de la OEA en América Latina. (España).
  • 12 de abril - Alas de Libertad, Red Liberal de America Latina (RELIAL), in recognition for inspiring others to fight for liberty (WDC)
  • 8 de mayo - Premio al Liderazgo Global 2018 de @YOA_Orchestra (WDC)
  • 15 de mayo - Legislatura de la Ciudad Autónoma de Buenos Aires lo designa “Turista distinguido”, en el marco de su participación en el G20 Cumbre del Consumidor. (Buenos Aires).
  • 20 de julio - Recibe las llaves de la ciudad de Medley (Florida).
  • 9 de agosto - Recibe la distinción “Referente de la humanidad” por parte de la fundación @FJovenesLideres. (Buenos Aires).
  • 25 de agosto -  Recibe la llaves de la ciudad de Miami de manos del Comisionado de Distrito, Wifredo Gort, en evento organizado por la Cámara de Comercio Uruguayo-Americana. (Florida).
  • 8 de septiembre - Recibe premio de la XV Cumbre Latinoamericana de Marketing Político y Gobernanza en Miami. @cumbre_latino. Se lo dedica a todas las víctimas de abusos de DDHH y de las dictaduras que hay en el hemisferio.

2017

  • The Oswaldo Payá Prize, which he should have accepted from Rosa María Payá, Director of the Red Latinoamericana de Jóvenes por la Democracia on February 22 in Havana, Cuba. However, this was not possible because the Cuban government itself prevented him from traveling to Cuba to accept the award.
  • The Rómulo Betancourt Order of Venezuelan Exile, which he accepted in Doral, Florida, on April 13 from the organization Venezolanos Perseguidos Políticos en el Exilio.
  • An award during the XIV Latin American Political Consulting and Governance Summit on April 13 on the Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College in Florida for his work in defense of democracy and liberty on the continent.
  • The Freedom Award from Freedom House, which he received on April 27 in recognition of his work on behalf of Venezuelan political prisoners.
  • The 2017 Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award, received on October 2 from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems.
  • The Francisco de Miranda Award, received on October 27 for his work defending freedom in the region.
  • The Press Freedom Grand Prize from the Inter-American Press Association, received on October 28. The president of the IAPA, Matt Sanders, said Mr. Almagro received the Prize “for his invaluable defense and promotion of freedom of expression and of the press as the very essence of democracy, as is recognized by the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”
  • The World Peace Prize from the World Jurist Association, received on October 31.
  • Mr. Almagro was also awarded an honorary doctorate from the Universidad de San Martín de Porres, Lima, Peru, on December 7, 2017, for his work to revitalize the OAS, his fight for democracy, and his flagship policy: More rights for more people.
  • 4th place in the Top 100 Leaders List from Multilateral Organisations by Richtopia.

2016

  • In Canada he was named one of the 10 most influential Hispanic people, an award that the Canadian Hispanic Business Alliance has given out for the past 10 years.
  • He received the Oswaldo Payá Liberty and Life Prize for his “outstanding efforts in defense of democracy.” The Latin American Youth Network for Democracy announced that Mr. Almagro was awarded the prize for “his coherent response to the political and social junctures through which certain countries experiencing crisis and democratic regression in Latin America are traversing.” The award is given to people or institutions who have stood out for their effective promotion and defense of human rights, life, and democracy.
  • Secretary General Almagro also received an award from the Inter-American Institute for Democracy (IID). Headed by Carlos Alberto Montaner, the IID chose Mr. Almagro as the winner of the 2016 Francisco Miranda Prize for his committed “defense of liberty and democracy in the Americas.”
  • The Secretary General was also selected to receive one of the awards bestowed annually by the Ibero-American Association of Communication (ASICOM) at a ceremony in the Paraninfo Hall at the University of Oviedo, Spain. Sergio Jellinek, the Secretary General’s strategic communications adviser, received the award on his behalf.
  • The Secretary General was awarded the 2016 Mark Palmer Prize, which the Community of Democracies gives to diplomats or international officials in recognition of their work to strengthen democracy and promote human rights.
  • He was also the recipient of the TIC-Americas 2016 “Entrepreneur of the Year” Award granted by the Young American Business Trust in June 2016.

2014

  • H prize Secretary General Luis Almagro was granted this distinction by Uruguayan civil society groups in recognition of his firm defense of the rights of the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered persons, both at national level and international level, including on behalf of Uruguay in the various international bodies and organizations of which it is a Member.
  • Foreign Policy Magazine Global Thinker.