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Secretary General Insulza Reaffirms “Validity and Effectiveness” of OAS as Forum for Dialogue

  June 3, 2012

- The forty-second regular session of the General Assembly of the Organization is inaugurated by the President of Bolivia, Evo Morales, and the Secretary General of the Organization of American States.

- President Morales "welcomes the OAS with joy and hope."

The Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, today reaffirmed the “validity and effectiveness” of the organization he heads, while in Cochabamba (Bolivia) at the inauguration of the OAS General Assembly’s forty-second regular session. He emphasized the institution’s work and its perspectives for the future. Insulza also expressed his "profound faith in the inter-American system, especially in our hemispheric organization, which is so criticized by many but continues to show, every time a serious problem arises in the region, that its effectiveness and relevance transcend short-term situations and the positions taken by some on specific topics."

He said "the very holding of this General Assembly session, the distinguished presence of so many foreign ministers, and even presidents, of member states, shows, better than words could, that this is a valid and effective forum where everyone is heard, where all can bring their problems and seek solutions. In that tolerance, in that ever-present wish and purpose of maintaining unity in diversity, of placing dialogue before confrontation, is where the strength of this Organization lies." Addressing the high officials in attendance, he said, "Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen delegates, let us make this General Assembly session a fresh demonstration that we all want it that way."

In his opening remarks, the Secretary General praised “the significant efforts” made by the Government and people of Bolivia in hosting the General Assembly and thanked them for their hospitality and "interest in our work." He also congratulated the Bolivian President, Evo Morales, on his choice of “Food Security with Sovereignty” as the central theme of the Assembly session. He called the Cochabamba event “a unique opportunity to continue this discussion and reaffirm our commitment to overcoming poverty, promoting integral development and economic growth with equity, and reducing the hunger rate.”

The diplomat stressed that the OAS “remains an essential institution; those who turn to the OAS continue to grow in number; they know that here they will always find an opportunity for dialogue, a place where, even when their concerns may not all be resolved, at least they will be heard and recognized.”

At one point in his speech, he pointed to the expected adoption of the Social Charter of the Americas in Cochabamba, which he called “a vital impetus” to the social areas. In that document, he said, "the member states pledge to do what is necessary to ensure that the economic development we are experiencing is accompanied by social development.”

Secretary General Insulza identified, as some of the most important tasks of the hemispheric organization, the ever-more-frequent electoral observer missions; facilitation of processes such as to address the Belize-Guatemala dispute; collaboration with the peace process in Colombia; contributions to the development of civil registries, as in Haiti; the necessary follow-up to the Convention of Belém, on Violence against Women, and the Inter-American Convention against Corruption; administration and processing of hundreds of scholarships; arduous work to eradicate mines from the entire region; and serving as depository of over 200 international treaties and over 6,000 bilateral agreements.

The “relevance of this agenda,” he went on to say, is demonstrated by the mandates entrusted to the hemispheric organization by the Heads of State and Government at the recent Summit of the Americas. He mentioned, among other things, the study performed on the efficacy of various anti-drug strategies; increased action by the Social Protection Network to fight hunger and malnutrition; increased efforts to fight organized crime; and development of institutions with the technical capacity to examine phenomena that cause natural disasters.

He went on to say, however, that the present economic situation, both globally and within the Organization, requires one to “focus the activities.” To that end, the Secretary General mentioned his proposed strategy for placing the institution on the road to the future, based on delving more deeply into the four pillars “of the Organization’s evolution: democracy; human rights; peace and security; and integral development.”

In particular, Insulza emphasized human rights and democracy. On the former, he said “we must be especially careful, because defending human rights is one of the main functions of this Organization.” But, he said, “it is also true that some problems have arisen recently that we must resolve” in order to “improve and strengthen” the inter-American human rights system. To that end, he said, the Assembly had before it in Cochabamba the report of the Permanent Council’s special group to reflect on the system, and thus it could adopt, “with the necessary prudence, decisions to move the process forward constructively.”

On democracy, the head of the OAS cited the need to “more profoundly uphold the values” set forth in the Inter-American Democratic Charter. “This is an essential task for the OAS; therefore we will continue to give it the high priority it deserves.”

President Morales Says Bolivia “Welcomes the OAS with Joy and Hope”

President Evo Morales, in his speech, thanked the OAS and Secretary General Insulza for their cooperation in holding the General Assembly session in Cochabamba. He said, “today Bolivia welcomes the OAS with joy and hope.” The Bolivian leader recalled that his country had last hosted the OAS 33 years earlier, and under very different political circumstances.

The head of state of the host country summarized its economic and social performance during his six years in office. He pointed to social protest and nationalization of natural resources as the basis for liberation of the Bolivian people.

In concluding his remarks, the Bolivian leader applauded the likely adoption of the Social Charter of the Americas in Cochabamba. He called on the OAS to serve the peoples of the Americas and to defend Mother Earth and the indigenous peoples.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-203/12