Media Center

Press Release


  March 26, 2008

The Organization of American States (OAS), through its highest body, today formalized the establishment of two new Secretariats, one for Legal Affairs and another for External Relations. During the Thirty Fifth Special Session of the General Assembly, convoked by the Permanent Mission of Ecuador to the regional Organization, the representatives of the member nations adopted a resolution which defines the new dependencies of the General Secretariat.

Secretary General José Miguel Insulza who presented the Executive Order by which the Secretariats were created said that these constitute part of a process of reorganization of the organizational structure, “all inspired by a same philosophy, to make the General Secretariat and its dependencies a more efficient tool for achieving the goals of the Organization and for the implementation of its mandates.”

“Each new modification in the structure has contributed to more clearly aligning the General Secretariat dependencies with the mandates that the political bodies have entrusted it with, as well as with the objective needs that the evolution of the political, economic and social tendencies of our region impose on our work,” stated Insulza.

During her remarks on behalf of the group of nations that conglomerate the Central American Integration System, the Ambassador of El Salvador, Abigail Castro de Perez, said that “the Secretary General’s approach in defining the structure of the central and permanent organ of the Organization is pragmatically political.”

“It is important to acknowledge that this redefinition of the structure is inscribed in a larger context: to strengthen the credibility of the OAS on the basis of how it executes the hemispheric agenda and the implementation of the numerous and multifaceted mandates entrusted by the General Assembly and the Summits of the Americas,” added Ambassador Castro.

The Legal Affairs Secretariat is created to advise on international American law, support the follow-up of Inter-American conventions, serve as depository for treaties, manage the Inter-American Program for the Development of International Law, and other services of juridical Inter-American cooperation. Jean Michel Arrighi will head the Secretariat.

The External Relations Secretariat will broaden the diffusion of the work carried out by the OAS in the promotion of democratic governance, human rights, development and multidimensional security. It will be headed by Suzanne Laporte.

For his part, the Chair of the Assembly, Ambassador Efrén Cocíos from Ecuador, said that the restructuring “will be in line with the desires of everyone here, that the Inter-American system honor its commitment to better serve the people of the hemisphere.”

The Ambassador of Grenada, Denis G. Antoine, acknowledged the efforts of the OAS Secretary General to continue improving the modernization of the Organization and urged that the nations of the Caribbean acquire greater relevance in the body.

Reference: E-096/08