Media Center

Press Release


  May 29, 2007

The Thirty-Seventh Regular Session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) will open in Panama City, Panama, next Sunday, June 3, with a focus on “Energy for Sustainable Development,” in recognition of the fundamental importance of energy resources for the future of the nations of the region.

OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and Panamanian President Martín Torrijos will inaugurate the three-day event—which will bring together the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of 34 countries—in a ceremony that will take place Sunday at 7 p.m. at the National Theater of Panama. During the following two days, the ministers will meet at the ATLAPA Convention Center, where they will have the opportunity to discuss and make decisions on a number of priority issues on the inter-American agenda.

The draft Declaration of Panama, which will serve as the basis for talks among the foreign ministers, recognizes that “energy is an essential resource for sustainable development of peoples, and that access to energy that is diverse, reliable, secure, and affordable is of paramount importance to economic growth with equity and social inclusion, and contributes to poverty eradication.” The document highlights the need to reduce countries’ vulnerability in light of fluctuating costs and demand; increase cooperation and energy integration; and, considering the challenges presented by climate change, promote clean and efficient energy.

The countries of the region also recognize that cooperation and alliances between the public and private sectors can help promote the hemisphere’s energy agenda. Thus on the eve of the ministerial meeting the OAS, in conjunction with the host government and business leaders, will hold the IV Private Sector Forum to study the issue of “Energy for the Development of the Americas: The Role of the Public-Private Alliances.” Participants in this event, which will take place May 31 and June 1, will include President Torrijos, Secretary General Insulza and Inter-American Development Bank President
Luis Alberto Moreno. Recommendations developed during the forum will be presented to the foreign ministers on June 3.

Given the importance the issue of democracy holds for the OAS, an international forum on June 2 will look at “The 2005-2006 Electoral Cycle in the Americas,” with an overview of election observations during a period of intense electoral activity in the region. Some of the challenges facing electoral systems in the Americas will also be discussed, as well as the role the OAS can play in supporting modernization efforts and electoral reforms, at the request of the respective member states. Secretary General Insulza and the President of Panama’s National Assembly, Representative Elías Castillo, will speak at the opening of the daylong event.

In the days leading up to the official opening of the Assembly, several other parallel events will take place, including:
• A meeting of Education Ministers to debate issues related with education in human rights;
• A Health Ministers meeting to discuss a “Health Agenda for the Americas”; and
• A conference on the rights of people with disabilities.

On the morning of Sunday, June 3, also within the framework of the General Assembly, the Ministers of Foreign Relations will hold talks with civil society. Representatives from non governmental organizations from around the region will have an opportunity to present ideas and recommendations for the consideration of the Heads of Delegation. That same day, the foreign ministers will meet with representatives of the private sector and with representatives of countries that are OAS Permanent Observers.

The official calendar of all General Assembly-related events is available on the OAS General Assembly Web Site.

The General Assembly is the highest OAS political body, and its decisions will help guide the regional organization’s activities and priorities for the coming year in such areas as promoting democratic governance, strengthening human rights, fostering sustainable development and addressing shared security concerns, among other issues.

Reference: E-141/07