Media Center

Press Release


  June 30, 2008

Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin reaffirmed to the Organization of American States (OEA) Member State ambassadors today that the 38th. General Assembly held in Medellin, Colombia, June 1-3 was successfully orchestrated and was more focused, continuing the trend of fewer resolutions and declarations that represented “a very important improvement” in the Organization’s approach.

The full support and “very strong engagement” of the Permanent Mission of Colombia also contributed, Ambassador Ramdin told today’s sitting of the Permanent Council—the OAS’ second highest decision-making body after the General Assembly. As Secretary to the Permanent Council, the Assistant Secretary General has overall responsibility for organizing the annual gathering of the Member States’ Foreign Ministers that discusses and takes decisions on a wide range of key hemispheric agenda issues.

Ambassador Ramdin credited the early start of preparations for the General Assembly’s success, from a logistical and administrative standpoint. Greater efficiency was noted, including via a more effective application of technology with new accreditation systems that handled more than 1,200 delegates plus some 900 media representatives.

This year’s Assembly, under the theme of “Youth and Democratic Values,” included numerous meetings and forums, among them a model OAS General Assembly that Ambassador Ramdin said had provided an added opportunity to engage with the hemisphere’s youth; a forum that celebrated the 60th anniversary of the OAS charter; and a session with previous OAS Secretaries General.

Ramdin suggested the Member States needed to review aspects of the structure, timeline and duration for future sessions of the General Assembly, to make the various dialogue sessions more effective in achieving their stated objectives. A document on the distribution of mandates from the 38th General Assembly session was circulated, outlining the agenda for the 2008-2009 period, leading up to the next General Assembly session, slated for San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in June 2009.

Barbados’ Ambassador Michael King presided over today’s session, his last time in the three-month rotating chairmanship of the Permanent Council.

Honoring a Barbadian former Assistant Secretary General

Also during today’s session, Assistant Secretary General Ramdin presented to the Permanent Council members a just-released publication honoring the late Val McComie, the Barbadian diplomat who served as OAS Assistant Secretary General for ten years (1980-1990).

“A Great American Scholar, Diplomat and Public Servant: Valerie Theodore McComie, 1920-2007” is published in English and Spanish as a tribute to the memory of the first Caribbean national elected by member governments as OAS Assistant Secretary General, a position he held for two five-year terms. It documents the proceedings of a special Permanent Council session held May 9, 2007, when Member State representatives and OAS officials—past and present—honored McComie shortly after his passing.

Ramdin said the historic publication was necessary because McComie was not only a great scholar but also an eminent diplomat who carried out his OAS duties for ten years, with distinction. Importantly, McComie sought to build bridges between Latin America and the Caribbean, said Ramdin, underscoring the foresight and strategic vision that McComie applied as critical elements of his stint as OAS Assistant Secretary General. “This is the reason we felt it important to put on record, in writing, the recognition paid to him and it will be part of the history of the OAS,” Ambassador Ramdin added.

Other commendations and tributes

The Permanent Council members also today bade farewell to the United States Alternate Representative to the OAS, Ambassador Robert Manzanares, who had also served for a period as Interim Representative. Following an outpouring of praise heaped on him by his hemispheric colleagues, an appreciative Manzanares thanked everyone—from the OAS and from the member countries—for the support he received, and said he was leaving the OAS with a much deeper appreciation of multilateral diplomacy.

Member State representatives also expressed condolences to the government and people of Guatemala as well as to the respective families of Interior Minister Vinicio Gómez, his Deputy Edgar Umaña and the others who perished in a helicopter crash. They also expressed condolences to the government and people of Guyana on the recent passing of that country’s first President, Arthur Chung, who had served the country from 1970 to 1980.

Reference: E-256/08