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OAS Permanent Council Commemorates International Women's Day and Convenes Special General Assembly to Continue the Debate on Drug Policy

  March 28, 2014

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) held today a regular meeting to commemorate International Women's Day, celebrated on March 8. Furthermore, it agreed to convene a Special General Assembly on September 19, in Guatemala City, to further discuss the World Drug Problem in the Americas.

Several delegations highlighted Women's Day as an occasion to underscore the rights, the participation, the unique role of women, and the existing challenges on issues related to gender equality. The event began with a presentation by the Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), Carmen Moreno, who spoke of the three priority issues on which the Commission is focusing its work: human rights and gender violence; women's political citizenship for democracy, and the implementation of an institutional gender policy at the OAS. "These international celebrations give us an opportunity to reflect and take stock of the situation, and to identify best practices and lessons learned. In the specific case of the CIM, they help us focus and strengthen our advisory work and our technical support to member states," asserted Moreno.

The CIM Executive Secretary said that the region currently has a strong legal framework on the rights of women and gender equality, but there are still some deficiencies. "The greatest challenge to equality between men and women and the full exercise of their rights is the consistent application of this legal framework and the recognition of these rights, which are written on paper, but in reality do not exist as rights for many women of this region. Women still face daily discrimination and manifestations of violence that deny effective access to their rights," she said.

With regard to violence against women, the CIM high representative cited data from the World Health Organization (WHO) indicating that one in three women experienced physical, sexual and/or psychological violence at some point in her life. "This shows that 20 years after the adoption of the Convention of Belém do Pará, women still do not have the ability to exercise their right to a life free of violence," she said. Moreover, she added that there are other pending issues to resolve, such as the absence of sexual and reproductive rights in national legal frameworks, the persistent exclusion of women from the political agenda in the countries of the region, and the under-representation of this gender in courts where their lives are being decided upon.

In their interventions, permanent representatives recalled the role of women in the public life of the Hemisphere’s countries and referred to the various policies implemented in their respective states to ensure the protection of the rights of women, to fight against gender violence, to promote equality and ensure parity at different branches of powers and state institutions. They also commented on the existing challenges related to domestic violence and discrimination.

During the regular session, the Permanent Council agreed to convene a special session of the General Assembly on the World Drug Problem in the Americas in order to comply with the provisions of the "Declaration of Antigua Guatemala: For a Comprehensive Policy against the World Drug Problem in the Americas". The Assembly will be held on September 19 of this year in Guatemala City, Guatemala.

The Council also approved the Implementation Plan to Evaluate the OAS Scholarships and Training Programs, presented by the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI), which aims to assess the impact, relevance, sustainability, efficiency, and profitability of such programs.

The Council also took note of the presentation of the Permanent Representative of Argentina, Nilda Garré, on the past, present and future of the White Helmets in the framework of the OAS. "Nearly 20 years ago, the OAS, through a resolution of its General Assembly recognized the White Helmets initiative as a valuable tool in the fight against hunger and poverty, as a response to disaster risk reduction, and as natural partners in the Hemisphere," said Ambassador Garré. She added that "today the White Helmets-OAS relationship is a strategic alliance under which several initiatives are developed," and she mentioned twenty countries in the region that have been recipients of this initiative.

Finally, the President of the Council and Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic, Pedro Vergés, during his last session at the head of the body, stated that for his country "it has been an honor to chair the Council over the last three months." "We tried to live up to the circumstances which, as you know, have not been easy at times," said the Dominican diplomat.

The Council began the session by observing a minute of silence to pay tribute to the former Spanish President Adolfo Suárez, who recently passed away and who played a key role in the Spanish transition to democracy.

During the meeting, representatives of Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Ecuador, El Salvador, the United States, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua , Panama, Paraguay, Peru, the Dominican Republic, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago (on behalf of CARICOM), Uruguay, and Venezuela took the floor. The Chief of Staff of the OAS Secretary General and the Permanent Observer of Spain also took the floor.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video of the event will be available here.

The audio of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-117/14