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Former President of the Dominican Republic Leonel Fernández Defends his Country's Position in the Dispute with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and Highlights OAS Role in Promoting Peaceful Coexistence in the Region

  November 13, 2014

The Former President of the Dominican Republic Leonel Fernández gave a lecture today at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS), in which he defended his country's position in the dispute with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on the right to nationality of the children of undocumented migrants, and at the same time highlighted the key role that the OAS has played in promoting civilized coexistence in the Hemisphere.
In his speech at the 57th Lecture Series of the hemispheric institution whose central theme was "The OAS, Democracy and Human Rights," former President Fernández stressed "the contributions" the hemispheric institution has made "in the prevention and resolution of conflicts among member states; in the maintenance of peace and security; in the creation of a permanent forum for political dialogue; in the fight against illicit drug trafficking and organized crime; in the protection of human rights; in the collective defense of democracy; and in promoting the rule of law."

After reviewing the history of the major milestones that mark the performance of the hemispheric Organization in matters of democracy and human rights, the former head of the Dominican State defended his country's position in the dispute with the Inter-American Human Rights System on the right to citizenship of persons born without documents on Dominican soil. In this regard he specified that in the Dominican Republic there is no "jus soli" law (a legal concept that grants citizenship to those born in a country), and therefore "Dominican nationality is not acquired simply by having been born in our territory.” In this regard, he disagreed with the Court for ordering the Dominican State to take steps to rescind all legislation that conditions the recognition of nationality via the "jus soli" Therefore, concluded Fernández, "no automatic grant of citizenship by way of jus soli is not a violation of human rights, as the Court misinterpreted." Broadening the context, he noted that "of the 194 member states of the United Nations, only 30 support the jus soli system without any conditions, which means that 164 states, among them the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Costa Rica, have chosen not to automatically recognize the citizenship of people born in their respective territories."

At another point in his speech, former President Fernandez said that the OAS has had three historical stages during its nearly 70 years of existence. The first spans from its inception in 1948 until the end of the Cold War, in 1989; the second, from that year to the present; and third, from the debate on the Strategic Vision, which seeks to adapt the organization to the challenges of the XXI Century.

Referring to the first stage, the former Dominican President said that the emergence of the Organization was marked by a bipolar world with the confrontation between Washington and Moscow. "The creation of the OAS practically coincides with the emergence of the Cold War, known by the Truman Doctrine in 1947, which designed a policy of containment of communism internationally," he said, recalling that it was decided in 1962 to exclude Cuba from participation in the Inter-American System due to its alignment with the "Sino-Soviet bloc."

Former President Fernández said that with the end of the Cold War, the Organization began a process of redefining its responsibilities and structures. "There was a shift in focus on the agenda of security and defense, until then focused almost exclusively on strategic or geopolitical threats in the region. From that moment, it went on to emphasize the prevention and resolution of conflicts and the war on drugs and protection against terrorism," he said. He recalled that during those years, the OAS sent missions to support the peace processes in Haiti, Honduras and Nicaragua, "and managed to become a key regional player in two crosscutting issues where it has concentrated its work: the promotion of democracy and protection of human rights." "In each of these respects, the performance of this international body has been leading, through intergovernmental discussion and the adoption of various resolutions, the creation of a set of international instruments and the monitoring of compliance with the obligations of the States," he added.

Also, the former Dominican President said that the OAS can be proud of its efforts towards creating a climate of peace, harmony and civilized coexistence among the peoples of the region. At this point, he referred to the term of the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, stressing his political skill in leading the destinies of the hemispheric institution in a difficult political situation. "I take this solemn occasion to testify my gratitude and special congratulations to Secretary General Insulza, who despite having to exercise his mandate in a period full of turbulence and with clouds on the horizon, due to his remarkable intellectual conditions, his strong personality and his sense of balance, has managed, with great wisdom, to overcome various difficulties and lead this institution toward a graceful exit in the various conflicts and difficulties," said the former head of state. As an example, Fernandez said that in 2009, during the tenure of Secretary General Insulza, the OAS overturned the suspension of Cuba from its participation in the Inter-American System.

Referring to the third stage, former President Fernández said that in the second decade of the XXI Century the OAS is compelled to rethink its goals, and redesign its institutions "to re-launch itself in new areas to ensure peace, security, prosperity and welfare for the people of the region." "We believe that with the experience, the talent available and the necessary political will, the OAS achieved will overcome all vicissitudes, triumph over all difficulties and write new chapters of glory that will realize the dream of the Liberator, Simon Bolívar, of a united region, working together to shape a future full of hope and dignity for our peoples," added former President Fernández, who currently chairs the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (Funglode).

For his part, the Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the OAS, Pedro Vergés, who delivered the closing words of the Lecture, noted that the intervention of former President Fernández "must be taken into account when we evaluate what we want the new OAS to be."

Before the Lecture, Secretary General Insulza held a bilateral meeting with former President Fernández attended by Ambassador Vergés; the Dominican Ambassador to the United States, Anibal de Castro; and the OAS Secretary for External Relations, Alfonso Quiñonez.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The video of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-493/14