Media Center



  June 1, 2009

San Pedro Sula, Honduras – Representatives of 14 civil society organizations held a broad dialogue Monday with representatives of the 34 Member States of the Organization of American States (OAS) at an event held in the context of the 39th General Assembly of the hemispheric institution in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

The meeting was part of a series of dialogues held separately between representatives from the 34 Member States and representatives of workers, civil society and permanent observers.

The meeting marked the 10th anniversary of the institutionalization of the participation of civil society in OAS activities. At the event, the organizations presented Member States with several proposals and petitions that they consider would improve the quality of life of the citizens in the continent.

OAS Assistant Secretary General, Ambassador Albert Ramdin, reminded the meeting that the OAS has “266 organizations registered and approximately 2,000 civil society organizations participate directly or indirectly in the day-to-day activities of the OAS.”

“The growing participation of civil society in the Inter-American dialogue has broadened the sphere of democratic participation and demonstrated that civil society organizations can be agents of democracy and change,” he said.

Ambassador Ramdin considered the meeting “a rich debate”, and reminded that the OAS “stands ready to continue to work with all civil society, as well as governments, in advancing the Inter-American agenda. This will mean increased efforts and partnerships to reduce all types of violence, ensure respect for human rights, strengthen good governance, combat corruption and impunity and work harder to uphold democratic values and the rule of law.”

The Vice-Minister of Foreign Relations of Honduras, Patricia Licona, who moderated the debate, said that the dialogue offered a “great opportunity for an exchange of opinions and points of view regarding the topics in the Inter-American agenda, the follow up of the Summit of the Americas as well as the theme of this OAS General Assembly, ‘Toward a culture of Non-Violence´,” she said.

Vice-Minister Licona said to the civil society organizations that governments would like “to adopt all proposals”, and encouraged them, particularly the youth, to keep submitting their ideas. “Proposals are not a utopia. We all should work towards a better world, and the youth are responsible for that.”

The civil society organizations mentioned a wide array of topics during their interventions: childhood, adolescence and youth, transparency, participation of civil society in debate with public institutions, human rights, peace, rights of afro-descendents, women, gay, lesbian, bisexuals and transgender rights, disabled, religious discrimination and anti-Semitism, HIV-AIDS and corruption.

Representatives of OAS Member Status took note of the proposals and celebrated the participation of civil society organizations in the activities of the hemispheric institutions, which they all considered very positive and enlightening. During the meeting the floor was held by representatives of México, Saint Lucia, Trinidad and Tobago, Antigua and Barbuda, Canada, Chile, Uruguay, Venezuela, United States, Brazil, El Salvador, Colombia, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Bolivia, Barbados, Argentina and Jamaica.

Reference: GA-09-09