Media Center



  June 4, 2009

San Pedro Sula, Honduras – With the commitment of promoting a culture of peace and Non-Violence based on “respect for life, human beings, and their dignity; that it gives priority to human rights, ending of violence, and adherence to the principles of freedom, justice, democracy, solidarity, tolerance, and respect for the diversity”, the 39th General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) was closed Wednesday in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.

The last plenary session was formally closed with the Declaration of San Pedro Sula, a document of 32 paragraphs focused on the theme “Toward a culture of Non-Violence”. A draft version had already been approved on May 22, 2009, and it was ratified late Wednesday by the delegations attending the General Assembly.

The Declaration of San Pedro Sula stresses in its preliminary considerations that governments have a fundamental role to play in the promotion and strengthening of a culture of peace and non-violence, because it has economical, political and cultural consequences in the societies of the Americas. The Declaration specifically quotes the risk that violence represents for groups in vulnerable situations, particularly women, children and elderly.

The Declaration also mentions “safeguarding respect for the rights of indigenous peoples, persons of African descent, migrants and their families, and individuals in vulnerable situations, particularly those affected by violence generated by any kind of discrimination, including discrimination based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and xenophobia.”

The text also reinforces the need to strengthen co-operation within the continent to fight trafficking in small arms and light weapons, directly related to the high level of violence in certain societies. Also related to violence in the Americas are drug-trafficking, alcohol abuse, criminal gangs, problems in prison systems and commercial sexual exploitation of children and adolescents. The document also warns against the risk that the current economic crisis and its consequences, such as worse life conditions and higher marginality levels, might trigger new forms of violence.

The Declaration of the OAS General Assembly also quotes other mechanisms and resolutions approved in the past, among them the United Nations General Assembly resolution 53/25, which proclaimed the period 2001-2010 the “International Decade for a Culture of Peace and Non-Violence for the Children of the World,” and the UN Resolution 61/271, which created the “International Day of Non-Violence”. In the Inter-American System, the Declaration mentions other OAS General Assembly Resolutions related to the issue, such as the “Inter-American Program on Education for Democratic Values and Practices,” from 2006, and “Preventing Crime and Violence in the Americas,” from 2008.

The Declaration also quotes the Declaration of Bridgetown, “The Multidimensional Approach to Hemispheric Security,” adopted by the OAS General Assembly in Barbados in 2002, as well as the Declaration on Security in the Americas, adopted in Mexico City, Mexico, in 2003. Other institutions have already raised concern about violence against women, trafficking in persons and other critical issues in the peace agenda. In general, the Declaration of San Pedro Sula seeks strengthening the efforts already developed by the continent in the last years to create long-lasting culture of peace and Non-Violence.

Reference: GA-17-09