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Statement of the General Secretariat regarding Civil Society Access to the Plenary of the General Assembly

  June 27, 2019

In relation to the situation which took place during the first plenary session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) today in Medellin, Colombia, the OAS General Secretariat notes that:

  • Prior to the beginning of the plenary sessions, the schedule of the General Assembly included several meetings with civil society, including a dialogue of these Organizations with the Secretary General, the Assistant Secretary General and the Heads of Delegations. This dialogue, held yesterday, lasted 3:24 hours. Video available here.
  • 841 representatives of civil society organizations, indigenous peoples organizations, Afro-descendants and workers’ organizations are accredited for this General Assembly.
  • Access to the General Assembly is regulated by its Rules of Procedure.
  • There are currently 100 positions available in the Plenary Hall for civil society and other social actors, and 33 in the General Committee.
  • The OAS, aware of the relevance of civil society and other social actors, and in order to ensure transparency, has sought to increase the space dedicated to these collectives throughout the process of logistical preparation for the Assembly: initially, only 40 spaces were contemplated; once the physical distribution of participants took place, it was estimated that 30 additional spaces could be made available; and today, in an exceptional manner, another 30 spaces were allocated.
  • In the weeks prior to the opening of the General Assembly, the OAS General Secretariat sent communications to the invited civil society organizations detailing the procedures of the Assembly, including the fact that access to the plenary would be allowed until the maximum number of available spaces was reached.
  • Taking into account that the number of civil society representatives who might wish to follow the sessions would exceed room capacity, a room with a capacity for 1,000 persons was arranged, with screens broadcasting the sessions live.
  • At no time did the Government of Colombia limit access to the General Assembly venue for civil society organizations and other social actors.
  • For tomorrow’s session, 3 representatives of each of the 33 coalitions which are composed of representatives from civil society and other social actors will have access to the Plenary Hall. In the coming hours, the OAS General Secretariat will ask the coalitions to designate their representatives to that effect. There are 33 spaces in the General Committee and as was the case today, the spaces will be occupied by one representative per coalition.

Following the mandates of the member states and its own convictions, the OAS General Secretariat reaffirms its commitment to the participation of civil society and other social actors in the activities of the Organization. The OAS is proud to be a pioneer organization in terms of its openness to civil society and it will continue to be so.

Reference: E-046/19