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OAS Permanent Council Approves the Plan of Action of the Social Charter of the Americas

  February 11, 2015

The member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) today approved the Plan of Action of the Social Charter of the Americas, which “reflects the member states' determination and commitment to eradicate poverty and hunger and urgently address the serious problems of social exclusion and inequality at all levels to achieve equity, inclusion, and social justice.”

The approval of the Plan is the culmination of a process of nearly 11 years of work. The negotiations over the Social Charter of the Americas , began in 2003 and the document was approved in 2012 during the XLII OAS General Assembly held in Cochabamba, Bolivia. In addition to approving the document, The Ministers of Foreign Affairs at that time instructed the Joint Working Group of the Permanent Council and the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI) to conclude the negotiations on the draft Plan of Action of the Social Charter." These negotiations ended last December, and its result is the Plan of Action adopted today.

The joint meeting of the Permanent Council and the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI) held this morning, was chaired by the Ambassador of Suriname, Niermala Badrising, current Chair of both Councils, who emphasized that the Social Charter and its Plan of Action "will serve as tools to jointly address our priorities and objectives in the economic and social arena." The approval of the document, she said, "is an important milestone with regard to the progress in the regional social agenda and a renewal of our commitment to the pillar of integral development." The Chair of the Council recalled that the Seventh Summit of the Americas, to be held in April in Panama, will focus its discussions on the issue of prosperity with equity and the challenge of cooperation, and in this regard she noted that the Plan of Action of the Charter "will be an instrumental contribution to the Summit’s agenda."

For his part, the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, joined the expressions of satisfaction and highlighted the "remarkable achievement" represented by the fact that "34 countries with such different economic, social, cultural and political realities were able to agree on what are the fundamental objectives and lines of action in which must work in the social field." He also noted that the Plan of Action is "very valuable, because it presents clear objectives in each of the seven areas that are formulated, with very specific lines of action."

The leader of the hemispheric institution said that in the issue of development it is important to have coordination among the agencies of the Inter-American system, and for that reason the Plan of Action will be a key tool, as its guidelines "broadly define what we will do and what we won’t do.” He encouraged members to use existing instruments such as ministerial meetings, interagency coordination and the Summits of the Americas Process to advance the objectives proposed in the Social Charter, and concluded by mentioning some of the remaining challenges, including implementation and measurement with quantitative indicators and the identification of monitoring mechanisms between countries "that will allow for the unification of criteria and facilitate the exchange of best practices."

The Chair of the Joint Working Group of the Draft Plan of Action and Permanent Representative of Dominica to the OAS, Hubert Charles, presented a summary of activities that allowed members to reach consensus on the Plan of Action. He said that the objectives and strategic guidelines set out in the Plan of Action of the Social Charter “reflect our commitment to strive for social advancement in our countries, the construction of more just and more inclusive societies, and the eradication of poverty, the last being a need rather than an aspiration in democratic societies." He recalled that the joint commitment to social justice and integral development "is long-standing," referring to the Protocol of Cartagena, in which in 1988 the member states pledged themselves to a united effort to ensure international social justice in their relations and integral development for their peoples, as conditions essential to peace and security.

The Plan of Action, which was adopted by acclamation and must be ratified at the next meeting of the OAS General Assembly this year, sets objectives and strategic lines of action "in order to help to achieve the principles, purposes, and priorities contained in the Social Charter of the Americas." These areas are: labor, social protection, health, food and nutrition, education, housing and basic public services and culture. The Plan provides that "member states are responsible for the implementation of the Plan of Action, based on their domestic laws, national realities, strategies, plans, and available resources," and that they may be supported by existing mechanisms of the OAS and other organizations of the Inter-American system."

The Plan´s development was also assisted by some specialized international organizations that were invited to participate in the negotiation process to identify efforts in line with the Social Charter and reinforce and supplement them, in order to avoid duplication and deepen synergies in shared goals. In this context, today’s joint meeting included presentations by the Assistant Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Francisco Becerra, and the Representative of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in Washington, DC, Miguel García Winder, who shared institutional perspectives on the social goals of the region and stressed the importance of the Social Charter and its Plan of Action. Both representatives reiterated the commitment of their respective institutions to the development goals of the region and expressed their satisfaction with the progress achieved in a shared social agenda.

"The right to health is a social right and as such it should be strengthened progressively in the search for a more inclusive and equitable health," said the Assistant Director of PAHO, who also emphasized that "the inclusion of this important concept and these strategies in the Plan of Action of the Social Charter is very important because it promotes the integration of the efforts of the health sector with all sectors of social development of the countries of the region."

During the meeting, the representatives of Dominica, Peru, Uruguay, Venezuela, Bolivia, Belize, Canada, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Colombia, the United States, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico, Suriname, Argentina, Haiti and Nicaragua took the floor to highlight the relevance of the approved document and its contribution to strengthening ties between economic growth and social justice, and stress the achievements and contribution of the Plan of Action to the objectives of development in the Americas.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video news of the event will be available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-036/15