Media Center

Press Release


  June 3, 2008

Amidst dire warnings that climate change poses “a clear and present danger to every country of this hemisphere,” Antigua and Barbuda’s Sports and Youth Affairs Minister, Winston Williams, argued today—at the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly in Medellín, Colombia—for urgent and strong collective action to cut green house gas emissions in the atmosphere.

Addressing the fourth plenary session on the final day of the 38th General Assembly, the Antigua and Barbuda minister further underscored a “quite grim” outlook for the Caribbean region, failing urgent steps to address “the seemingly irreversible upward trend of global warming.” The region could see extensive droughts that could affect the agricultural base of Caribbean economies, and water shortage could spell trouble for the region’s tourism, agriculture, infrastructure and development, he warned.

“Inaction is no longer an option,” Williams declared to the annual meeting of the hemisphere’s foreign ministers, convened by the OAS and chaired this year by Colombia’s foreign minister, Fernando Araújo. Calling for technologies that allow emission of clean air into the atmosphere, he made the case for widespread use of renewable energy sources, adding that additional resources must be made available to help poorer countries address poverty and those environmental challenges that drive disasters. “We, collectively, can determine our future and we owe future generations the opportunity to experience all that earth’s bounty hath in store,” the Antigua and Barbuda Minister told the OAS General Assembly.

Meanwhile, Colombia’s deputy minister for multilateral affairs, Adriana Mejía, delivered a report to the foreign ministers, observers and other delegates to OAS’ highest decision-making forum, highlighting the work of the OAS Mission of Support for the Peace Process in Colombia (MAPP). She said the solidarity and the willingness of the OAS and its Member States and observers have encouraged the Colombians to work tirelessly towards ridding the country of violence while consolidating security and peaceful coexistence.

Mejía expressed the Colombian government’s appreciation for the OAS’ support through its activities related to verification, cease-fire, disarmament, and ending of hostilities, as well as demobilization and reincorporation of former guerillas into society. She made special mention of the collaboration between the MAPP and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission in observing respect for human rights and for international humanitarian law.

Malvinas Islands, Bolivia’s maritime issues, migrant workers and human rights among other highlights

As well, the fourth plenary session touched on the question of the Malvinas Islands and, with respect to the maritime problems of Bolivia, that country’s Foreign Affairs Minister David Choquehuanca, along with Chile’s Foreign Affairs Minister Alejandro Foxley underscored bilateral efforts to resolve the problem. Meanwhile, Mexico’s Deputy Foreign Minister Jerónimo Gutierrez presented a report on the human rights of migrant workers and their families.

A series of other reports were also considered, including the OAS Permanent Council’s annual report, presented by Chairman Ambassador Michael King of Barbados. Also, highlighted in the General Committee Rapporteur’s Report to the Assembly, the Member States underscored the urgency of OAS action on the world food crisis. Addresses were also given by the Inter-American Juridical Committee; the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

And, prior to concluding the fourth plenary session, the OAS Member States elected new members to OAS bodies, as follows:

To the Inter-American Juridical Committee – Jean-Paul Hubert (Canada); Fabián Novak (Peru); and David P. Stewart (United States).

By acclamation, the Member States elected Uruguay’s Hebe Martínez Burle and Brazilian Carlos Eduardo Caputo Bastos to the Chile-based Justice Studies Center of the Americas; United States national Bradford Higgins to the Board of External Auditors; and Justice Suzie d’Auverge of Saint Lucia to the OAS Administrative Tribunal.

The General Assembly also agreed to the Permanent Council the election of the three government experts and one alternate government expert responsible for analyzing the progress reports of the states parties to the Protocol of San Salvador, and also to authorize the Secretary General to designate the independent expert and his alternate.

Reference: E-219/08