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OAS Secretary General Highlights the Role of Inter-Americanism in Addressing Current Challenges

  March 6, 2012

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today highlighted the role that inter-American cooperation can play in resolving current and future challenges, in a lecture titled "The Inter-American agenda, meeting the challenges of globalization: old and new players in the world order.” The lecture was delivered at the Metropolitan Autonomous University in Xochimilco, Mexico.

The Secretary General said that the issues that involve all the countries of the region are still numerous and relevant, he explained that "the continental agenda contains some features of discord that are often present,” it is also "mostly composed of construction issues and common challenges." In that perspective, he said, it redoubled the importance of the Summit of the Americas, to be held in Cartagena de Indias (Colombia) April 14 -15 with the Heads of State and Government of the continent.

The head of the hemispheric organization added that "Inter-Americanism has a role to play and an agenda to follow" and from a positive perspective indicated that "the only actual problem that the Organization or the Inter-American System may face is that all countries may not have enough enthusiasm to take on hemispheric cooperation." Furthermore, he said "the fact that the world has changed enormously in recent decades should generate new opportunities for cooperation, recognizing the importance of a set of common themes that cannot be addressed only by some regions, but by the hemisphere as a whole."

Highlighting the transcendent value of international cooperation, the OAS Secretary General urged countries to address the common agenda "with a spirit of cooperation, full respect for each other, and full respect for the diversity of a region that has a common destiny, despite nations sometimes expressing that common destiny in very different ways." To do this, he said, the countries gave themselves a set of legal rules such as the OAS Charter, the American Treaty on Pacific Settlement or the Pacific Inter-American Convention on Human Rights, which "make the American continent one of the largest and richest the world” in this matter.

The Secretary General also pointed out that the hemisphere consists of South America, North America, the Caribbean, and Central America, distinct areas within a large region in which each has a role to play. "Economic ties, social and political ties to this hemisphere show the need for common action, so it is necessary, more than ever, that their Heads of State and Government meet to address their challenges," he said.

The existence of a hemispheric policy and the common action of all the countries of the continent, "are not inconsistent with regional policy," said the Secretary General. Therefore, the attitude of the OAS has been "keeping relationships with various regional organizations" such as UNASUR, MERCOSUR, CAN, CARICOM, or SICA, "understanding that some issues are common to the entire hemisphere and others are not."

Regarding the current situation of democracy in the region, Secretary General Insulza stressed that the Americas, along with Europe are, "one of the two democratic continents of the world". Of the 35 independent states that comprise it, "34 governments have been democratically elected and are bound by common rules of democratic management, practice, and respect for human rights." However, at this point he recalled that a democratic country is not only defined by "having periodic, transparent, and competitive elections,” it also means that governments have to "act democratically," as stipulated in the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

In referencing the strong political base achieved by countries in the hemisphere, Insulza added that the Hemisphere also enjoys an unheard of state of economic stability, as demonstrated during the recent economic crisis, which began in the United States and spread to Europe. He stressed that the crisis found the Americas on a good foot. "The economies of the South, they were always protagonists of the crisis, and this time they showed surprising strength," he said, referring not only to the "successful management of their economies" before and during the crisis, but also to "the strong export growth, not only to the United States and Canada, but also to China and other Asian countries."

Despite his emphasis on the economic stability exhibited by the region, the head of the OAS recalled the situation faced by Haiti after the January 2010 earthquake. He said that while the region has applied effective measures that have reduced poverty from 42 percent of the population in 2002 to 32 percent in 2010, "the humanitarian crisis that Haiti continues to suffer has been the only real obstacle that his trend has encountered in recent times,” and called upon the international community not to end the aid to that country.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-077/12