Media Center

Press Release


  May 18, 2006

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, today underscored the need to adopt better public policies to help reduce poverty and promote social and economic development in Latin America.

Speaking at a World Bank conference in Washington, the Secretary General outlined key challenges facing the region. He said problems related to the stability of the democratic system, and the lack of respect on the part of some governments for the rule of law and the democratic rules of the game, are among the main reasons for the high levels of poverty in developing countries.

Although economies are growing substantially and democracies have been strengthened in recent years, there is still “widespread disappointment in what democracy has achieved so far in terms of the reduction of poverty and income distribution,” said Insulza, who called this phenomenon a “political time bomb.”

The Secretary General stressed the need for “an enhanced role of the state in developing public policies that will confront the serious needs of a large portion of Latin American population.”

“The role of public policies is to deliver benefits for the people,” he said, noting that good governance, transparency and stronger institutions are needed to improve social development.

However, he told the experts gathered that “there is no magic bullet,” referring to applying one universal model of social policy throughout the Americas. Insulza noted the importance of analyzing each country separately.

The Secretary General was the keynote speaker during a panel on “Influencing Policy Dialogue: Policy Makers and Development.” The four-day conference, with the theme “Making Macro Social Analysis Work for Policy Dialogue,” brings together donor agencies, development practitioners, government representatives and scholars to find ways to improve the World Bank’s programs and work in this area.

Reference: E-121/06