Media Center



  June 2, 2009

San Pedro Sula, Honduras – A call to defend the integrity of the Organization of American States (OAS) was issued here by Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, at the inaugural session of the 39th General Assembly of the hemispheric body. The opening ceremony was also led by the President of Honduras, José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, host of the meeting.

With most of the region’s Foreign Ministers in attendance, both Secretary General Insulza and President Zelaya talked about such topics as non-violence (official theme of the General Assembly), social protection in times of crisis, democracy in the region, the role of the Inter-American Court and Commission on Human Rights and the Resolution of 1962 that suspended Cuba’s membership in the Organization.

Regarding the future of the OAS, Secretary General Insulza said that “the point is clear: when I hear voices calling for an end to the OAS, I wonder how many decades would be needed to build something similar and who would do the work we are doing.” Insulza highlighted the help provided by the OAS in peace missions, conflict resolution, electoral missions, legal issues and human rights issues, among others. He also mentioned the enormous display of human resources in different programs of cooperation in several Latin American countries.

The OAS Head pointed to the current strengthening of the Inter-American system, furthered by the Fifth Summit of the Americas, held in April in Trinidad and Tobago. “Now, as never before, we have a common agenda. We should allow all of this to flourish and not be too quick to become estranged from one another because of different views or prejudices,” he said.

Insulza also highlighted the work carried out by both the Inter-American Court and the Commission on Human Rights. While acknowledging that some nations disagree occasionally with its verdicts and resolutions, he defended their independence, which, he said, should be further strengthened. “No other hemispheric human rights system has the kind of autonomy and credibility that our Commission on Human Rights and our Court of Human Rights enjoy,” he said.

Regarding Cuba, Secretary General Insulza reminded the assembly of the importance of values such as inclusion and democracy, and called for the topic to be discussed without fear and looking for consensus. “We want to move forward and to leave behind a past that for many is not positive, but not at the cost of falling once again into divisiveness,” he said.

On the global economy, Insulza reminded that the current worldwide crisis strengthened the idea that democracy should reach further than political and electoral rules to include the ability of a government to solve problems such as poverty and exclusion, as well as the ability to promote environmental quality and public security. In that regard, he said, the Assembly should discuss the economic crisis, human prosperity, energy, climate change, migration and public security.

In particular, about the crisis, Insulza said that “what is also needed is a system of broad political and social covenants that can strengthen governance and ensure the political viability of the measures that it will be necessary to adopt. The conclusion of broad national agreements, with the consensus of a majority of social and political actors, can mitigate the impact of the crisis on the most vulnerable segments of our societies while, at the same time, preventing dangerous strife that can result from blaming one another for what we have not caused.”

For his part, President Zelaya gave an overview of the macroeconomic and social achievements of his government, and highlighted the need to look for peace and expand a culture of “non-violence” in the hemisphere. He also made reference to the economic crisis and its roots.

The last part of his speech focused on the Resolution about Cuba, calling all representatives in attendance to revoke the suspension by vote or by consensus. Zelaya defended the right to autonomous ideas, respect for self-determination and sovereignty as values that the OAS should recognize when deciding about Cuba and the inter-American system.

Reference: GA-10-09