Assistant Secretary General Speech


May 7, 2024 - Guatemala City

• Honorable Secretary of State of the United States, Antony Blinken
• Distinguidos Ministros de Relaciones Exteriores y Altas Autoridades de los Estados suscriptores de la Declaración de los Ángeles y Representantes de Organismos Internacionales.
• Amigos todos

Buenos días a todos y todas
En nombre de la Secretaría General de la Organización de los Estados Americanos y del Secretario General quiero agradecer al gobierno de Guatemala, al Presidente Arévalo, y al Canciller, y amigo Martínez por su hospitalidad.

The OAS commends the initiative of the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection for providing a platform for dialogue and action among its signatories to strengthen national, regional, and hemispheric efforts in the provision of regional policies that create safe, orderly, humane, and regular migration and bolster international protection and cooperation frameworks and the human rights of migrants.

We also welcome the launching of the LA Declaration website, a useful tool to serve as a repository for information sharing and gathering. The OAS stands ready to share relevant data and resources as its contribution towards enhancing the exchange of good practices and to inform the development of public policies on the three pillars of the LA Declaration.

To this end, I would like to briefly refer to the work of the OAS, which aligns with the commitments of the LA Declaration:

First, I wish to point out that the OAS membership includes all of the Signatory States of the LA Declaration. This allows for consistent coordination and mindful acknowledgement of the scope of the Declaration in our political deliberations. The OAS also has a proven track record in providing the necessary institutional support to high impact regional mechanisms and processes such as the Summit of the Americas Process and the Meetings of Ministers of Justice or Other Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas (REMJA).

With respect to our technical work in the area of migration, I wish to highlight the Comprehensive Regional Protection and Solution Framework (known as the MIRPS), which is a state-led mechanism that the OAS manages jointly with the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

Furthermore, this Program aligns with the work of the LA Declaration action package committees conducting similar work. In this regard, the OAS remains at the disposal of Signatory States to provide complementary support to the relevant committee pillars. This we believe will avoid duplication of our efforts and encourage strategic partnership.

Regarding countering human smuggling and trafficking, we have just finalized implementing a regional project in support of the efforts of 7 OAS Member States to prevent, investigate, and counter criminal activity linked to the exploitation of Venezuelan refugees and migrants. More than 2,600 immigration officers and first line responders have been trained in the prevention and investigation of human smuggling and trafficking.

We are also working with IOM, the UNHCR, and other partners in strengthening the capacities of local governments who play an integral role in aiding migrants and refugees on the ground. During last year’s Cities Summit of the Americas, we launched a comprehensive study of 25 countries and 109 localities and issued recommendations and best practices in managing migrants and refugees across cities in the Americas.

Mr. Chairman, before I conclude, I wish to identify untapped areas of collaboration within and expansion of the LA Declaration.

To date, there are 22 signatory states of the Declaration. We believe that in order for the declaration to be wide reaching, inclusive, and impactful, it should include the majority of the independent countries of the hemisphere, many of whom are member states of the OAS.

Along with the expansion of Signatory States of the Declaration, we also respectfully suggest increased participation from civil society, non-government actors and other international organizations. The OAS has extensive experience in engaging with Civil Society at High Level Meetings to ensure that their concerns are taken into account in our work.

In order to ensure continuity of this Declaration, we believe that its process should be institutionalized. We are glad for the announcement made by Secretary Blinken that they are headed in this direction.

The OAS already possesses the institutional structures and organs to aid in the sensitization among all relevant stakeholders about the merits of the declaration. The OAS also has extensive expertise serving as technical secretariat to Conventions, Regional Working Groups and similar bodies.

In light of this, the OAS can contribute to the fulfillment of the goals outlined in the Declaration by offering any needed support with institutional or technical anchor functions.

In conclusion, I extend heartfelt appreciation to the organizers for inviting us to participate in this important activity which serves as a channel for consensus building, robust dialogue, inclusive participation, and amplified collaboration among the signatory states and other stakeholders of the LA Declaration with full respect for human rights.