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Dialogue among Heads of Delegation at the OAS General Assembly in Lima focused on Peace, Security and Cooperation

  June 7, 2010

The Second Plenary Session of the 40th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) took place today in the Museo de la Nación, Lima, with the participation of some 30 foreign ministers, vice ministers and ambassadors of the member countries of the Organization.

Representatives of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Dominican Republic, Canada, Chile, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, Jamaica, Argentina, Ecuador, Colombia, Suriname, Nicaragua, United States, El Salvador, Bolivia and Uruguay spoke in the session, which was chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Peru, José Antonio García Belaunde. The central theme of the meeting, “Peace, Security and Cooperation in the Americas,” was addressed, as well as the national, regional and continental initiatives undertaken to promote peace and security.

The dialogue began with the intervention of the Minister of Foreign Affairs, National Security, Labor, Immigration and Social Security of Saint Kitts and Nevis, Sam Condor, who said that “conflict, violence and citizen safety are ultimately governance, security and development issues,” adding that he is satisfied with the fact that the OAS addresses these issues.

For his part, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Commerce and Trade of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Louis S. Straker, said the theme chosen for the 2010 Assembly “allows for some continuity and synergy with the ongoing work of the OAS,” and asserted that “true security cannot exist without peace, and peace in a society such as ours is unattainable without the cooperation that we continue to forge with our multilateral and bilateral partners.”

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic, Carlos Morales Troncoso, said that the Declaration of Lima they look forward to adopt “clearly touches a sensitive nerve in Latin America and the Caribbean, the nerve of security. To place this issue on the table responds perfectly to the preoccupations expressed and caused by the sporadic tensions linked to security and the need to overcome them.”

Afterwards, the Permanent Representative of Canada to the OAS, Graeme Clarke, on behalf of his country’s Minister of State of Foreign Affairs for the Americas, Peter Kent, spoke of the strengthening of peace and security in the hemisphere as “one of the essential objectives of the OAS.” In this context, he announced a new partnership between Canada and the OAS that seeks to expand the OAS’s role as facilitator and mediator in the removal of landmines.”

The subject of immigration was also part of the debate between the Ministers. The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Haroldo Rodas Melgar, said his country “privileges the exhaustive review of the situation of migration in the hemisphere to have a human emphasis where dignity and respect for the fundamental rights of the individual must condition every piece of legitimate migration legislation,” Minister Rodas added that “the Member States would have to legislate taking into account that we share a geography and common values and recognize that each day we are more interdependent.”

In her speech, the Secretary for External Relations of Mexico, Patricia Espinosa Castellano, focused on the work of the OAS. “Our Organization continues to be indispensable to shore up democratic life in our hemisphere,” she said, pointing out the interest of the countries in “having a strong OAS, with capacity for action, whose work converges on regional and sub-regional efforts in favor of democracy.”

Regarding the same subject, the Secretary of State of the United Status, Hillary Clinton, said that under the leadership of President Obama her country has renewed a “robust multilateral diplomacy” and as part of that initiative supports the OAS as the “foremost multilateral organization of the hemisphere.” She explained that this vision is based on the fact that today “the OAS’s goals of strengthening democratic institutions, safeguarding human rights, promoting inclusive development, and enhancing multidimensional security are more important than ever.”

Along these lines, Secretary Clinton proposed three steps to strengthen the hemispheric organization: refocus the institution on its core mission of advancing strong democratic institutions; work to reform the OAS budget considering that the current path is “fiscally unsustainable”; and moving ahead with the implementation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ecuador, Ricardo Patiño, took the opportunity to share with the delegates some of the concrete actions of strengthening peace and cooperation that Ecuador and Peru have implemented in the last decade. “They are friendship mechanisms that concretely and not only rhetorically, allow us to speak of progress in the implementation of effective peace zones,” he said, adding that among said efforts is humanitarian demining, health care and cross-border security.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, Jaime Bermúdez Merizalde, spoke about the fight against drug trafficking, organized crime and national security. In his speech he rejected coups d’état and “physical or verbal” interventionism, calling it “unacceptable.” Furthermore, he said his country “is committed to a peace zone, but for it to be a zone of peace and security there must be a full commitment with democracy, where there is institutional independence, civil freedoms, effective transparency and security for all.” With those words, the Minister suggested the strengthening of the application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

On other issues, the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Culture of Bolivia, David Choquehuanca, focused his speech on the subject of nuclear disarmament, the limitation of weapons and the problem of small arms and light weapons (SALW) “that seriously affects the region and causes huge damage, of all types, to our societies and in particular to the region.” In that sense, he asserted that his country is committed “to help achieve agreements that allow the development of an appropriate answer to this global problem, which must be confronted jointly and by every state according to their common but diverse responsibilities.”

Finally, the Uruguayan Minister of Foreign Affairs, Luis Almagro Lemes, urged the member countries of the OAS “to continue working actively to strengthen cooperation, promote constant dialogue on the main challenges faced by hemispheric peace.” Placing special emphasis on the promotion of peace. Minister Almagro pointed out that “the commitment of continuing to promote a culture of peace and promoting education for peace in the countries of the region constitutes an inescapable imperative for the strengthening of the democratic system.”

The various interventions of the Ministers coincided on subjects such as organized crime, drug trafficking, violence and the strengthening of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, among others. A large part of the representatives took the opportunity to congratulate the Secretary General for his recent reelection as head of the OAS.

A photo gallery of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-234/10