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OAS Assembly Adopts Social Charter of the Americas

  June 4, 2012

The ministers of foreign affairs of the Hemisphere adopted the Social Charter of the Americas today, by acclamation, at the second plenary session of the forty-second regular session of the Organization of American States (OAS), being held in Cochabamba, Bolivia.

The Bolivian Foreign Minister and President of the Assembly, David Choquehuanca, applauded the adoption of the Social Charter of the Americas in his country. He said, “my people and my Government are especially pleased that the Social Charter of the Americas is being adopted here, in Tiquipaya, in Cochabamba.” He said the document would serve to strengthen “existing OAS instruments on democracy, integral development, and fighting poverty.”

The Social Charter is based on the recognition that “the peoples of the Americas legitimately aspire to social justice and their governments have a responsibility to promote it. Development with equity strengthens and consolidates democracy, since the two are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.”

The Charter adopted in Cochabamba expressly recognizes “the contributions of indigenous peoples, afro-descendants, and migrant communities to the historical process of the Hemisphere” and states the need for governments to adopt “policies to promote inclusion and to prevent, combat, and eliminate all forms of intolerance and discrimination, especially gender, ethnic, and race discrimination in order to safeguard equal rights and opportunities and strengthen democratic values.”

It also maintains that the “promotion and observance of economic, social, and cultural rights are inherently linked to integral development, equitable economic growth, and to the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law in the states of the Hemisphere.” It adds that “The member states commit to promoting and to progressively realizing the full achievement of economic, social, and cultural rights and principles, through policies and programs that they consider are the most effective and appropriate for their needs, in accordance with their democratic processes and available resources.”

The Social Charter stems from a 2005 Venezuelan initiative. It was drafted by a working group of the OAS Permanent Council and the Permanent Executive Committee of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CEPCIDI). In May of this year, the working group approved the draft Social Charter and entrusted the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development with presenting a draft Plan of Action no later than August 31, 2012, for consideration by that working group.


The Foreign Minister of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, welcomed the adoption of the Social Charter of the Americas, an initiative his Government pursued for over a decade, and recognized the effort and dedication of his compatriot, Ambassador Jorge Valero, throughout the process. Valero, who served as Permanent Representative of Venezuela to the OAS and is now his country’s Ambassador to the United Nations, said that, from the outset, the objectives were the recognition of social justice and of the economic, social, and cultural rights of the American peoples, and that the necessary tools be provided to deal with poverty, achieve equity and social inclusion, and ensure a democracy based on human rights.


The Foreign Minister of Mexico, Patricia Espinosa, called the adopted text “a positive symbol” and said it was “especially meaningful” that Bolivia was the country where it was adopted. “Mexico celebrates the adoption of a commitment to overcoming poverty, which is the largest challenge in the Hemisphere,” said Foreign Minister Espinosa. She cited improving "competitiveness and production and creating quality employment” as means of generating wealth and achieving better distribution between work and social inclusion. Minister Espinosa also advocated the prompt implementation of the Plan of Action in order to assess “movement in the right direction” under the Social Charter.


The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru, Rafael Roncagliolo, expressed satisfaction at the Charter’s adoption, which he called “an important hemispheric milestone” in strengthening the social, economic, and cultural rights of citizens. The Social Charter, affirmed the Foreign Minister of the Government of Ollanta Humala, is a rigorous complement to the Inter-American Democratic Charter adopted 10 years ago at a special session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), held in Lima.


The Permanent Representative of Nicaragua to the OAS, Denis Moncada, welcomed the fact that "after nearly seven years of negotiations, the Plurinational State of Bolivia is the country in the Western Hemisphere where the Social Charter of the Americas has been adopted." The Nicaraguan Ambassador called the document “an expression of renewed commitment to overcoming poverty with tangible action to benefit all the peoples of our Hemisphere.” The Permanent Representative of the Central American nation also recalled the outstanding work of the Venezuelan Ambassador, Jorge Valero, whom he called the "architect" of the initiative.

Costa Rica

The Foreign Minister of Costa Rica, Enrique Castillo, affirmed that the Charter’s adoption is a "great milestone in the history of the inter-American system, one that represents a pillar of the framework of democratic institutions.” Minister Castillo, who has served as Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the OAS, said "what brings us together here is the common denominator of all the states: belief in respect for the human being, because the person, “by virtue of being that, deserves respect and is the raison d’ être of democracy.” He continued, “This event is the culmination of a process that began ten years ago, when we decided to strengthen our democracy and adopted the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which has now been expanded, enhanced, and decisively designed with the precepts contained in the Social Charter.”


The Foreign Minister of Argentina, Héctor Timerman, joined in congratulating Ambassador Valero for his lead role in the Charter, and underscored the importance of social inclusion to the proper functioning of democracies. “The Social Charter, as a consensus by the member states, calls for commitment from everyone,” he said, adding that “the only solution to the crisis is to address the challenges of social inclusion.” Minister Timerman said that the Charter was aimed at bringing about societies that provide more opportunities for sustainable development, and “part of the recognition that the peoples of the Americas have a legitimate aspiration to social justice, and that their governments have a responsibility to promote it.”


The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Carlos Raúl Morales, stressed the importance of the Social Charter of the Americas to people, from Alaska to Tierra del Fuego. In this regard, he argued that the adoption of the Social Charter helps to tackle poverty and inequality, a major historical problem for the Americas. The senior Guatemalan official said he was hopeful about the Plan of Action being adopted shortly and, in that regard, emphasized the need for the Plan of Action to be adopted as soon as possible so that “people can enjoy the attendant benefits of the Charter with respect to social justice, redistribution of wealth, and development.”


The Foreign Minister of Paraguay, Jorge Lara Castro, hailing the adoption of the Charter, expressed the hope that “this good faith commitment would promote social justice and deliver a decent standard of living.” Minister Lara Castro also called for human rights to be strengthened to contribute to concrete action being taken as set forth in the Social Charter. He linked the adoption of the Charter to the theme of the Assembly, “Food Security with Sovereignty in the Americas,” as both issues constituted “a demand by the people, to which the hemisphere’s leaders are committed.”


The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guyana, Carolyn Rodrigues-Birkett, recalled the threat that poverty and inequality posed to democracy in Latin America and the Caribbean, and this, she opined, underscored the member states’ commitment to using the Charter to address the problem. Democracy and social exclusion were not compatible, she asserted, explaining that this Social Charter was another important step in expressing our commitment to development with social justice.


Laurent Lamothe, the Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Haiti, noting that the main objective of his new government was to fight extreme poverty and social exclusion, strongly supported the adoption of the Charter. The Haitian minister also thanked “the countries of the region for their solidarity” towards his country, especially in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake in January 2010. Prime Minister Lamothe also announced that his government was seeking a new model for international support, in which aid would go directly to the democratically-elected government, rather than through nongovernmental organizations.


The Permanent Representative of Dominica to the OAS, Ambassador Hubert Charles, congratulated Venezuela and all of the countries involved in crafting and negotiating the Social Charter. By adopting this new tool, the representative of the Caribbean country said, the OAS was demonstrating that it was, at heart, a flexible organization, willing to follow new pathways in order to become more effective. Calling on the countries to ensure that their citizens understand the contents of the Charter, Ambassador Charles proposed that it be used to guide the quest for progress and development.

El Salvador

Ambassador Luis Menéndez, Permanent Representative of El Salvador to the OAS, described the Charter as “a tool that helps strengthen existing tools for countries to strengthen democracy, the fight against poverty, and integral development.” He said that this document, together with the Inter-American Democratic Charter and the 2003 Declaration on Security, formed the “triad of inter-American system” that responds to “the expectations of the peoples of the Americas.”


Minister Arnaldo Brown congratulated Venezuela for its role as promoter of the Charter, adding that his country looked forward to the implementation of the Social Charter. The Jamaican experience showed that it takes concerted effort and collaboration to address the persistent challenge of eradicating poverty, the Jamaican diplomat stated. Minister Brown went on to reiterate his country’s already stated position that poverty eradication must remain a top priority for the OAS, and that the Social Charter was one step forward in that regard.

Dominican Republic

The Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, César Dargam, hailed the consensus reached on the adoption of the Social Charter of the Americas, saying the document will help bring about conditions conducive to promoting more just societies. Minister Dargam spoke as well about his country's commitment to rebuilding Haiti. “We want to reiterate the statements made by our President, Leonel Fernández, at various international forums that the international community has a moral obligation to help forge a better future for Haiti, and for the Haitian people and the Haitian government to know that they are not alone and never will be, and that we will always be standing at their side. At a time when winds of confrontation are blowing throughout the world, we want to put priority on collaboration,” he said.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video of the event is available here.

The audio of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-206/12