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OAS Secretary General Offers to Be a Partner in a “Modern Multilateralism” for the “Benefit of the People of the Americas”

  March 3, 2010

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today presented his candidacy for reelection in a speech before the Permanent Council in which he offered to continue to be a “partner” in the use of a “modern multilateralism to apply our common agenda, as ambitious as it may be, for the benefit of the people of the Americas.”

The complete text of his speech in Spanish is available here.

Secretary General Insulza summarized the achievements of his first term in office, presented his vision of his second term and requested the support of all Member States.

With his sights on the future, the Secretary General urged the strengthening of multilateralism into something “broad, modern and inclusive.” “I don’t want the multilateralism of the Cold War, characterized by confrontation, or a supranational OAS that travels to countries to impose solutions or teach lessons. That style, which is proper of those nostalgic of the Cold War, has been buried, is in the past, and has no place in this Organization.”

The Secretary General named the European Union as an example of “modern multilateralism” and asked for a commitment from “our countries to common standards in matters of democracy, human rights, security and development” and to the creation of “networks and mechanisms that support them.”

Furthermore, the Secretary General called attention to the need for “the inter-American system of human rights, made up of the Commission, the Court and the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights to have at its disposal the capabilities and resources required to carry out its tasks, and we must try to make its decisions be recognized and obeyed by all.”

The Secretary General also indicated, among the objectives of a successive five-year term, “to increase our capacity to identify potential problems and to better foresee the critical situations that can threaten democracy in some member country,” “increase our support for democratic governance,” “create a balance between the effort the Organization devotes to political tasks and that which it devotes to the tasks of integral development,” and “to be able to take steps” in linking “in the most organic way” the Summit of the Americas to the OAS.

In making an assessment of his first term, the Secretary General noted that all problems in the region “went through here.” “Unlike at other times, the OAS has been present in all the big events of the region. Not even those who criticize us truly doubt the relevance of our Organization in these last years.”

Secretary General Insulza mentioned the role played by the OAS in various conflicts in the last five years: its mediation in the political institutional crisis of Nicaragua in 2005; its role in the “democratic transformation” of Bolivia; its special mission of assistance to the electoral process and institutionality in Haiti; its support for the reestablishment of the Supreme Court of Justice of Ecuador in 2005 and the process of constitutional reform in 2007-2008; its mediation in the territorial differences between Belize and Guatemala; its important role in the crisis between Colombia and Ecuador that broke March 1st, 2008; its Mission to Support the Process of Peace in Colombia (MAPP/OEA); its lifting of the 1962 Resolution to exclude Cuba from the Organization; its initiatives in the political crisis in Guatemala in 2009; and the political crisis in Honduras.

With respect to Honduras, the Secretary General urged countries to “reach the appropriate conclusions” from the crisis. “The multilateralism of today has its limits,” he said. “Our legal tools are the most powerful in the region today. In this case, however, they were not invoked in time. We rely on the executive power’s request to act.”

Toward that goal, he continued, “there is no doubt that, to strengthen our democracies, it is necessary to imagine ways to apply the Inter-American Democratic Charter before and not after crises become materialized.” The fact that the timely invocation of the Charter could have helped avoid the crisis is “sufficient reason to examine faster and more flexible procedures. Procedures that allow the Secretary General to bring the matters before the Organization to be able to act in a preventive way.”

The positions of OAS Secretary General and Assistant Secretary General for the next five years will be filled during a Special General Assembly election to be held March 24 at the Organization’s headquarters in Washington, DC.

Photographs of the event will be posted here

For more information please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-063/10