Media Center

Press Release

In Celebration of International Peace Day, OAS Takes Stock of Missions for the Wellbeing of the Hemisphere

  September 22, 2010

The Organization of American States (OAS) celebrated International Peace Day with a forum featuring the Chiefs of the various missions sent by the Organization in the last two decades to support and promote peace.

The third edition of the event, which took place in Washington, DC, highlighted the role of and contributions the OAS has made through peace missions in various countries of the continent for the prevention, management and peaceful resolution of intra- and interstate conflicts in the Member States.

OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin, who opened the event, underscored the important contribution the Organization has made to the promotion of peace in the region, and added that "achieving sustainable peace and security continues to be one of the most critical challenges for the hemisphere."

"Today, we want to pay tribute to OAS missions that have made a significant difference in the well-being of many of our citizens. While our missions and programs have varied from one country to another, OAS peace-building activities have been unique for their strong civilian component, which contrasts with other international peacekeeping efforts around the world," he said.

Ambassador Ramdin advocated for a structural approach to peace building and conflict prevention. "By this I mean a more proactive engagement, quiet diplomacy and democratic support for our Member States before conflicts erupt," he said, and explained the need to develop a peacebuilding architecture that promotes prevention rather than simply focuses on conflict resolution or management.

The OAS Secretary for Legal Affairs, Jean Michel Arrighi, on the other hand, explained the context and the initiatives the OAS and its political bodies have adopted to manage the recent political crisis and the Special Missions in which the OAS has intervened, specifically, the Mission of Good Offices in Ecuador and Colombia and the Good Offices Mission in Honduras.

"The OAS is a link in the chain of the inter-American system and as such it has contributed to the fact that this continent has been throughout the twentieth century the most peaceful continent on the planet," Arrighi said.

International Support and Verification Commission (CIAV) in Nicaragua

The Chief of Operations of the CIAV/ OAS in Nicaragua, Roberto Menéndez, spoke about the achievements and impact of the presence of the OAS in that country between 1990 and 1997. Among them, he highlighted the disarmament of 22,000 combatants, the repatriation and resettlement of about 18,000 families of former combatants, the humanitarian assistance provided throughout the country as well as the analysis of 80 cases of violence and violations of human rights.

In that sense, he asserted that the OAS "made a significant contribution to the culmination of a historic stage in Nicaragua marked by the clash between brothers, and ended the armed conflict."

Special Mission in Suriname

The Former Chief of the Special Mission in Suriname between 1992 and 2000, Edgardo Reis, referred to the political context and the activities of the Mission that collected about 4,000 pieces of military equipment as part of disarmament efforts.

"The mission was more than a tool for designing and implementing projects to promote peace and democracy. It was an initiative that was directly involved with the actions that brought peace to the country," he explained. Among them was the technical and financial support for the 1996 elections, the legal support for amnesty efforts and the acts of reconciliation and social integration.

International Civilian Mission In Haiti

For his part, Colin Granderson, the current Chief of the Joint Electoral Observation Mission OAS-CARICOM in Haiti referred to the International Civilian Mission of the OAS / UN in Haiti between 1993 and 2000. In his presentation, Ambassador Granderson said the mission was the result of intense pressure from the international community to react to the breakup of the country's constitutional order.

"The mission was considered from the begining an important element to help resolve the crisis and therefore contribute to reform the institutions and to institutionalize peace and the democratic processes in the country," he said. Although the objectives were met, said Granderson, lack of time, lack of perseverance and stability adversely affected the achievements and the changes did not take root in the country.

Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia (MAPP/OAS)

The Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia, held since 2004, was another key issue on the agenda of the Forum of Peace. The Chief of the MAPP, Marcelo Alvarez, stated that "the key word of the mandate of the Mission is accompaniment. This means that the Mission did not go to Colombia to start a process, but was invited to participate in the process." This was the first time that an international organization participated in the verification of a peace process on this scale in the country.

"Our work of accompaniment, verification, and articulation is done mainly on the ground, in communities affected by violence and where the institutional presence has been weak or non-existent," said Alvarez. In this sense, the Mission verified each of the 36 acts involving the demobilization of paramilitary units, and accompanied the groups "from the place of military action to the demobilization areas." It also followed closely the almost 18,000 weapons surrendered by the AUC since the beginning of disarmament until December 2008.


Raul Lago, Special Representative of the OAS Secretary General for Belize and Guatemala described each of the initiatives the organization has undertaken to mediate the territorial dispute between the two countries. Lago said that "in recent years we have been following this dispute of more than 150 years, and we have been seeking to reach what unites people rather than what divides them. He also recognized the fact that both countries have been able to cooperate in a civilized manner, always seeking dialogue and cooperation.

One of the major contributions the OAS has made to help resolve the territorial dispute was the Secretary General's proposal to bring the dispute to the International Court of Justice (ICJ) to seek independent arbitration. Both countries accepted this recommendation in June 2008 and in December of that year signed a special agreement in which they pledged to undertake the necessary consultation process to move in that direction.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-341/10