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500 University Students from the Hemisphere Debate Citizen Insecurity in the Americas during the 29th Model OAS General Assembly in San Salvador

  May 18, 2011

Today, May 18, 2011, the Twenty-Ninth Model General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) for Universities of the Hemisphere (29th MOAS) was inaugurated on the campus of the “Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas” (UCA) in San Salvador, El Salvador, with the participation of some 500 students from 29 universities in Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, the United States, France, Guyana, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, and Venezuela.

Said event is organized by the OAS jointly with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of El Salvador, the Secretariat for Social Inclusion of El Salvador (SIS), the UCA and the University of El Salvador (UES), and with the support of the Government of Spain.

The objective of the 29th MOAS is to sensitize youth in the Americas and the public in El Salvador, as well as university students from the region, on the principal issues on the inter-American agenda to be discussed during the next OAS General Assembly in San Salvador from June 5 to 7.

During the inauguration ceremony, the Foreign Minister of El Salvador, Hugo Martínez, noted that “there are no excuses to postpone the union of our peoples” and highlighted that the 29th MOAS offers young people a unique opportunity to appreciate the vision and mission of the OAS as well as the work it conducts in promoting and protecting human rights, the strengthening of democracy, and in fomenting integral development and multidimensional security.

The Foreign Minister described the “honor and pride” that hosting this MOAS represents to El Salvador, emphasizing that the results produced by the students will serve as input for the discussions during the 41st General Assembly. Furthermore, he emphasized the Government of El Salvador’s conviction for the need to approach security from a multidimensional perspective instead of a coercive one and that “without citizen security no democracy is viable.”

The Director of the Department of International Affairs of the OAS, Dr. Irene Klinger, remarked on the decision by the government of El Salvador to dedicate the 41st General Assembly to the subject of citizen security that it is “extremely appropriate, since the important successes achieved by the region during the last decades in consolidating democracy, overcoming poverty, and in general improving the life conditions of our peoples will be severely affected unless we are capable of offering security to our citizens.”

Dr. Klinger said that “democracy does not exist without complete freedom of expression and association,” and that today there are still “de-democratizing” factors such as citizen insecurity; poverty, inequality, and discrimination; institutional weakness and a tendency towards Caesarism; as well as limitations to the exercise of civil sovereignty and human rights. With respect to citizen insecurity she added that currently “the possibility for a young Latin American person to become the victim of a homicide is thirty times greater than that for a European one.”

The National Director of Youth, Miguel Angel Pereira, on behalf of El Salvador’s First Lady and the country’s Secretary for Social Inclusion, Mrs. Vanda Pignato, asserted that “youth today is an agent of change that is called on to solve the problems of the world and guarantee respect for their rights.”

Father Andreu Oliva, Rector of the UCA, in his welcoming remarks noted that the “democratic celebration that is the MOAS agrees with the principles and mission of the UCA in seeking the political and economic transformation of the States of Central America, and the youth are today the future leaders of society.” He added that organized crime “generates tremendous anxiety and uneasiness in the Hemisphere, affecting the values on which the realities of mankind are built,” and noted that the work the students carry out during the MOAS will contribute to the common efforts of the region in overcoming such challenges.

Mr. Rufino Quezada, rector of the University of El Salvador, recalled the “historical contributions of university youth in favor of justice and democracy,” and highlighted the importance of the MOAS agenda since it contains “the real problems we are facing.”

During the 29th MOAS, which will end on Saturday, May 21, 2011, the students will analyze issues related to the promotion of democratic values, the strengthening of democracy, protection of human rights, preventing youth violence, fomenting integral development and the participation of civil society. Furthermore, they will issue a declaration on “Citizen Security in the Americas” to be presented to the Member States at the 41st General Assembly.

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Reference: E-676/11