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OAS Permanent Council Commemorates Pan American Day and Anniversary of its Charter

  April 14, 2011

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today commemorated Pan American Day and the anniversary of the signing of the Charter of the OAS, adopted in Bogota, Colombia, on April 30, 1948.

During a protocolary meeting held in Washington, DC the Secretary General of the OAS, José Miguel Insulza, offered an analysis of the achievements the countries of the region have made in recent years and the challenges they face, asserting that this is a day “not only to congratulate ourselves for our successes and possibilities but to take stock of our challenges.”

Recalling the history of the hemispheric organization and its member countries, the head of the organization highlighted democracy and economic growth as two of the most important achievements. “Unlike in other years, today we can look at our region with much more optimism. Today we have democracies throughout the region,” he said, and recalled the important economic growth the continent has seen in recent years and the lessons the governments of the Americas have learned from previous crises that have allowed them to come out of this most recent world economic crisis as “the first ones and not the last ones,” as happened before. “This is a great achievement,” he said.

Nevertheless, he recognized that there are still fundamental challenges to face. Among them, he mentioned taking advantage of economic growth and making it sustainable, “even when the value of natural resources is no longer the same”; the poverty that prevails “in a region that is no longer poor and yet a third of its citizens is”; and discrimination. “The challenge is a better distribution of wealth,” he concluded.

The Secretary General also referred to issues such as crime, violence, drug trafficking and trafficking in persons, the illegal flow of weapons and other issues of citizen security that will be the focus of the OAS General Assembly to be held in San Salvador from June 5 to 7, 2011, and he mentioned the challenge of substantially improving the quality of governments and public management.

Finally, Secretary General Insulza asserted that “this is a day for us to set ourselves the goal of continuing in the sustained efforts this organization has undertaken to overcome these challenges in a definitive way.”

The current Chair of the Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of Grenada to the OAS, Gillian Bristol, for her part, recalled the history of the Organization, which since 1948 “has experienced change, growth and renewal,” and recalled that the OAS “has responded to unprecedented social, political and economic realities in its Member States and further abroad with countless resolutions, technical cooperation and assistance, observer missions, diplomatic intervention, legal guidance, inter-American conventions, inter-American entities, and so much more.”

Among the examples of successes she mentioned “the development of an unprecedented concept of multidimensional security, the promotion of confidence-building measures, the entry into force of the Convention of Belém do Pará, the adoption of the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” all of which are “irrefutable instances of our collective response to new challenges and concerns and the creation of revolutionary frameworks and understandings.”

Finally, she urged the Member States represented in the Council to continue to work for the wellbeing of those they represent. “While these two anniversaries give us an opportunity to trace the OAS’s beginnings, if we are to better serve the present and the future we must strive to improve on the legacy left us and leave our own indelible footprint on the history of hemispheric integration, cooperation and advancement,” she said, and she recalled that “our predecessors were visionary, daring and persistent in the pursuit of their aspirations for this hemisphere. We have proven that we can do likewise.”

A gallery of photos of the event are available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-625/11