Media Center



June 7, 2011 - San Salvador, El Salvador

General Assembly marks the third consecutive year where a security-related topic has been chosen as the theme for the meeting. This focus on security from three consecutive General Assembly hosts is testament to the importance attached by countries throughout the hemisphere to addressing this essential issue.

Indifferent to borders, transnational organized crime, including drug trafficking, is sowing crime, violence and insecurity here in Central America as throughout the region including my own country. Our own hemispheric coordination must improve to meet the Challenge.

To this end, Canada is very pleased that the Government of Guatemala will host the International Conference in Support of the Central American Security Strategy later this month. This event constitutes an important opportunity to bring key international donors together with Heads of State from network, a groundbreaking initiative that will assist participating countries in the formulation of drug policies and programs. Canada's resources will also be provided to establish a Caribbean Counterdrug Intelligence School and to assist CICAD in conducting training seminars on the investigation of drugs sold over the internet, a new and rising threat.

Recognizing the importance of addressing both the supply and demand of illicit drugs, Canada wi1l also fund CICAD's demand reduction strategy to address substance abuse, crime and violence in the Caribbean.

Finally, Canadian funding will assist the OAS Secretariat for Multidimensional Security in developing, implementing and evaluating an integrated intervention plan. This plan aims to reduce transnational organized crime in Central America, with El Salvador as the pilot country.

As we all know, peace and security are ultimately founded on respect for democratic principles and human rights. We have worked together to enshrine these principles in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, a landmark achievement that will celebrate its 10th anniversary later this year and a document that remains a fundamental point of reference to guide our collective efforts in strengthening democratic governance in the hemisphere.

While there is a wide acceptance amongst our member states on the need for democracy as an expression of political will, Canada would like to see a focus in discussions going forward on the "practice" of democracy. By the practice of democracy, I am referring to the day-to-day functions of our governments as well as the way in which our institutions interact with our citizens.

For Canada, this includes elements such as the balance of power between public institutions; freedom strengthening the implementation of the Democratic Charter.

Despite advances in democracy over the past couple of decades, political crises still threaten stability in the region. The coup d'état in Honduras two years ago was not only a major step backwards for Honduras, it also threatened the democratic gains we have collectively made in the region.

However, Honduras is well on the path to recovery, with a democratically elected government and a Truth and Reconciliation Commission that has played a critical role in the process of national reconciliation.

Canada financially supported the work of the Commission and was pleased to provide a prominent Canadian as a member of the Commission.

Despite the fact that President Lobo has faced tremendous challenges as a result of the 2009 crisis, with the OAS, and in the Contact Group of like-minded countries in the electoral transition in Haiti.

We 'welcome the new government of President Martelly (MAR-TELL-EE) and are committed to work with him to address the fundamental needs of the Haitian people. Governance and strengthening the rule of law will be key to Haiti's future success. Responsibility starts with the political leadership and the elites of the country, to step up and make Haiti a better place.

Finaly, Mr. Chair, I would like to underscore the urgent need to address the Organization's serious budget deficit. To this end, all member states must approach discussions on the budgetary situation and priority-setting exercise with discipline and flexibility, in order to find long-term, sustainable solutions.

Canada, for its part, is committed to promoting the enhanced accountability, transparency, efficiency and priorities, and we stand ready to support the Secretary General and accompany the Secretariat in this important endeavour.

Together, we can reinvigorate the OAS, and enable it to address the priority issues facing our hemisphere, including the consolidation of democracy and enhancing the security of our citizens.

Merci. Gracias (GRA-sias). Obrigada (o-bri-GAA-da).

Thank you.