Media Center



  May 31, 2009

San Pedro Sula, Honduras – The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, held today an informal dialogue with more than 150 civil society representatives; an activity organized under the framework of the 39th OAS General Assembly that will take place in San Pedro de Sula on June 2nd and 3rd.

In his welcoming remarks, the Secretary General noted that “today we have a broad agenda, with new issues inherited from the Fifth Summit of the Americas, including security, the fight against poverty, energy and the environment. It is important for us today, to be able to talk about all of these issues, contribute to the debate, and create a positive interaction in a friendly environment.” He also added that “these gatherings, that have been growing over the years, represent a continued and fruitful collaboration between civil society and the OAS.”

The informal conversation, that lasted over two hours, was an opportunity for participants to present their concerns on the major challenges in the region and on the main theme of the General Assembly - “Toward a Culture of Non-Violence”. In this sense, civil society representatives focused their statements on the current situation that many countries of the region are experiencing in terms of insecurity, injustice, discrimination, and crime.

“Today, one of the main problems in the hemisphere is violence, an issue raised by the Heads of State of the Americas during the Summit,” said Insulza. He also commented that “it does not make sense to maintain the current discourse that says that Latin-America and the Caribbean are peaceful, because there are no wars, while we have the current high level of violent deaths that in some countries reaches fifty victims for every hundred thousand inhabitants”. At the same time, he reiterated the Organization’s commitment to place the issue of non-violence at the center of its programs and activities.

The Secretary General also offered to prepare a report on the state of discriminatory crimes in the Americas, and highlighted the OAS efforts to advance in the negotiation of the Inter-American Convention against Racism and All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance, saying that it is a “simple, but necessary tool, that complements other existing Conventions.”

Other topics discussed in the meeting included; strengthening of social actors participation in OAS activities, rights of persons with disabilities, arms trafficking, the fight against corruption, rights of transsexual people, anti-Semitism, rights of afro descendants, human trafficking, gender violence, the work of the OAS Mission to Support the Peace Process in Colombia, and the readmission of Cuba to the inter-American system.

The dialogue, that took place at the ‘Centro Social Hondureño Árabe’, commemorated the tenth anniversary of the Resolution CP/RES. 759 (1217/99) “Guidelines for the Participation of Civil Society Organizations in OAS Activities” which institutionalized and regulated the participation of civil society organizations in the OAS political bodies.

The Director of the OAS Department of International Affairs, and responsible for the relations with civil society, Irene Klinger, affirmed that “this anniversary is a good opportunity to talk, to evaluate and to look at the future,” and underscored, once again, the positive relationship between the OAS and civil society.

Reference: GA-05-09