Media Center

Press Release

OAS Assistant Secretary General: “We should do policy making with the people and not just for the people”

  June 24, 2010

The Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Albert Ramdin, inaugurated yesterday the “Seminar: Mechanisms for the Participation of Indigenous Peoples in the OAS,” which took place at the Organization’s headquarters in Washington, DC. In his speech, Ramdin urged participants to present recommendations to improve the work of engaging with the institution.

Greeting the nearly 50 representatives from indigenous communities of the OAS Member States, Ambassador Ramdin commented that this event “should be really seen in the context of the broader engagement of the organization with civil society in general,” adding that, “It is very important for us to provide you opportunities to learn about the mechanisms that exist within the organization to make the engagement with you much more meaningful, substantive and useful.”

Referring to the importance of concluding in a prompt and successful manner the negotiations for the American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Ambassador Ramdin recalled the efforts the OAS has undertaken to create more opportunities for bringing together civil society, especially the youth, minorities, civil society organizations, and indigenous peoples.

“We have done this based on the perspective that governments alone cannot be responsible for creating the environment for peace, stability, security and for prosperity in our countries. We need to involve all stakeholders, and that is why civil society involvement is so important,” he stated.

Ambassador Ramdin invited the Seminar’s participants to present their own observations on how to improve the mechanisms of participation in OAS activities for the hemisphere’s native communities, and affirmed that “this is a way to show that we are inclusive, that we are open, that we are transparent and that we like to hear your views on how we can incorporate them in the organization’s decision making.”

Finally, the Assistant Secretary General recalled that, from the OAS perspective, “policy making cannot be policy making for the people, we must do policy making with the people, creating partnerships with our stakeholders,” and added that the goal of the meeting is “to foster that kind of relationship, in which we work together to make your aspirations come true and find ways to relate them back to the organization’s work.”

The Seminar, which ends today, Thursday, seeks to generate a better understanding among representatives of indigenous peoples about their participation in OAS activities, and stimulate a dialogue that allows a deeper integration of those initiatives. To that end, representatives from over 30 countries joined the three-day meeting, which features presentations on the Inter-American system of human rights, the role of the OAS in the region, the Summits of the Americas, and information about OAS development projects. At the end of the seminar a roundtable discussion will take place in which indigenous representatives will present their conclusions and recommendations.

Event organizers made available for the general public and the participants of this seminar a virtual permanent network for the promotion and discussion of indigenous issues in the Americas. The network can be accessed here.

A photo gallery of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-254/10