Speeches and other documents by the Secretary General


October 9, 2017 - Prague, Czech Republic

The Americas, like Europe, is a region where democratic principles and values are an essential part of the way of life. But we must not be complacent. Real challenges remain to ensure that all of our people benefit from democracy.

• In the Americas we have created something truly special. We have chosen as a foundation for our societies the shared values of inclusiveness, democracy, universal freedoms and human rights.
• These principles are clearly articulated in the founding documents of the OAS, the foremost political forum of the Hemisphere.
• These documents- the OAS Charter, the American Charter of Human Rights, the Inter-American Conventions, and theInter-American Democratic Charter- outline these fundamental beliefs and ideals what we have all agreed upon.
• These agreements recognize a series of rights as well as obligations that ensure a basic well-being for our citizens.
• There has been tremendous progress across the hemisphere in recent decades in the consolidation of our democracies and the growth in our economies.
• Vibrant democracy grows from within. Across the hemisphere we see countries at different stages of democratic development, based on different models, using different processes.
• Today, our democratic institutions are stronger and there is greater rule of law, offering better social protections. Our economies are more open and integrated, improving the quality of life for citizens across the Americas.
• However, our hemisphere remains one of the most unequal regions in the world and this inequality is the greatest weakness to both our economies and our democracy.
• Growing demands from citizens aggravate weak institutions and poor social services.
• Corruption, weak rule of law, and political polarization fuel the erosion of economic, political, social and human rights. The unequal distribution of income, access to basic goods or services and justice are a constant factor that further undermines development.
• To address these challenges, one thing is clear: the essential elements and principles of democracy are the immovable foundation upon which sustainable, just, and prosperous societies are built.
• In order to create balance, multiple centers of power in a society are required. No one entity, or position, or person should be strong enough to control the others. Legitimate power must be shared, dispersed and restrained. Both power and wealth are strengthened when diversified and shared.
• This is why the separation of powerbetween the branches of government is a hallmark of democracy. Each body, the executive, the legislative, the judiciary, they each have a vital role to play and a different set of voices to represent.
• People, processes, institutions, these entities are all corruptible. Principles are not.
• We can build inclusion, security and prosperity by strengthening democracy and the rule of law. But this commitment also means that we cannot be afraid to act when we see backsliding.
• This is why two and a half years ago I took on the leadership of the Organization with one slogan, “More Rights for More People.”
• Equality, opportunity, a prosperous economy, social development, human rights protections, citizen security- these are all elements of a truly democratic society. They can only thrive after strong democratic institutions have been built.
• No matter how developed our societies may be, we cannot become complacent. There are too many real and urgent risks across the region that serve as a warning.
• Corruption and bad practices are contagious. They are a disease that is easily spread and create a very dangerous precedent. So is the pursuit of power for power’s sake. We have one country in the Americas, Venezuela, where the leadership will stop at nothing to remain in power, systematically violating its constitution, dismantling democratic institutions, and seriously violating the political, economic and human rights of its citizens.
• We have already seen some copycat actions in other countries to roll back democratic rights, taken by emboldened leaders who are determined to cling to power.
In a region where our democracies have been hard-earned we must never forget that Government is a service to the public. It is not for profit or power. Those who are elected to represent the people, are there to channel the voice of citizens into the decision-making processes of the state. Their legitimacy is bestowed directly by their citizens.

• As Secretary General, I have the responsibility to give my voice to the people of the Americas that do not have a voice. As a human, I have a responsibility to stand against tyranny and injustice.
• I have, and I will continue to denounce challenges and threats to democracy across the region to uphold our commitment to these ethical and moral, values and principles that we have painstakingly outlined in long legal agreements.
• At the end of the day, it is our democratic values and principles that count.

Thank you