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"The OAS: closer to the people within the framework of peace during the Peace Integration Summit, CUMIPAZ" - Dr. Luis Almagro Lemes

"The OAS: closer to the people within the framework of peace during the Peace Integration Summit, CUMIPAZ" - Dr. Luis Almagro Lemes

The progress of the states of this hemisphere, is the reason for being of this Organization of American States (OAS). That is our motto: more rights for more people. In the Americas, we count with a common platform, at the same time peace is our best foundation. It is the fundamental rock which the four pillars rest upon: democracy, human rights, security, and integral development.

Friends, organizations of the American states, are the political forum for excellence. We have the capacity to summon, to dialogue all democratic countries of the region on equal terms beyond the size of the economy or population. Our permanent advice, all states of the hemisphere have the same representativeness, a single vote, and we count with countries with populations that surpass 300 or 200 million people even small Caribbean islands. Our principle is so clearly shaped in fundamental documents of the Organization of American States (OAS), including its charter, the American convention on human rights, the diverse Inter-American conventions, and Resolution 1080 over representative democracy. The Inter-American democratic charter approved by proclamation by all member states of the Organization of American States (OAS) in 2001 was written like a true constitution of the Americas.

These are not documents that have been imposed upon the states. Each country decided to negotiate and sign these principles that define who we are, in what we believe, and how we interact amongst ourselves.

Each country chose to sign these conventions, and each country has the obligation and responsibility to comply and apply them. Otherwise we are talking about dead letters of an organization that would be fossilized, locked up in the archives or in the libraries and far away from the problems of the people, but it is these conventions which makes us unique. No other institution exists that is similarly committed to human rights and democracy. No other institution has created the same legal instruments to protect democracy and human rights. This commitment is unique in our hemisphere. Our main task and fundamental commitment is to enforce these commitments with the nations of the Americas. We are convinced it is the best way to insure peace and to them we orient our programs, projects, and initiatives. Among those I want to highlight in these days the commitment to continue to support the peace process in Colombia, our brother state where a war conflict is emerging, it is going on many decades of shedding blood without cause. The result of the plebiscite this past Sunday showed the need that when a peace process becomes flesh in all of the Columbian society, we coincided in the need to set up a great national inclusive dialogue so that all feel participants of the peace process.

Our mission to support the peace process, the MAPP [Misión de Apoyo al Proceso de Paz/OAEA] will continue working in the post conflict. The mission that counts with 12 years of work in Colombia, will monitor the challenges and threats to peace that come up from the zones where this conflict has developed in this time. The MAPP will complement and will secure the work of other national and international bodies that also work for the consolidation of peace in Columbia. Organization of American States (OAS) is one hundred percent committed in the construction of peace. All the lessons learned and knowledge of the Columbian territory that we have acquired in these twelve years; all our actions are guided by the same premise, the Organization of American States (OAS) is and will be committed to the peace of the Columbian people. The MAPP has regional offices and covers 250 populated centers in 20 departments of the country.

Another initiative in favor of peace that we have done recently is the interreligious and intercultural dialogue in the Americas that we launched in the Vatican a month ago together with the Institute for Interreligious Dialogue (idi) of Argentina, all of that under the auspices with the presence of Pope Francis. The guiding idea is to impulse a dialogue among all religions and cultures in favor of peace, tolerance, and the agreement among our nations with the objective that we all can place the values of humanity above their own and reinforce the Americas as a zone of peace. This step we have taken with the hand of the supreme pontiff, is a road that calls on agreement, on reconciliation, on peace, and action in defense of what we all share, independent of our beliefs. The transcendental values of humanity, the universal values, our common home, our Planet Earth. We did it because we are convinced that from Americas we can conclude and send a different message to the violent rhetoric and hate that has been imposed in various parts of the world. In the Americas, we can demonstrate that coexisting in peace is possible. It is not in vain that we harbor immigrants from around the world, refugees from around the world, and we count on a formidable diversity of cultures, of races, of ethnicities, and religions.

In 2014, precisely here in Asuncion, the nations of the Organization of American States (OAS) proclaimed themselves as a peace zone. This is how they reaffirmed, because it is already written in various Inter-American treaties and conventions. The commitment of the Organization of American States (OAS) with peace encompasses other actions like the work the organization developed in the adjacency zone between Guatemala and Belize, a long dispute dating back to the time of the colony.

The office of the Organization of American States (OAS) in the adjacency zone serves as a civil mission of peace and carries out different activities to maintain peace and with the ultimate goal to bring these two parts together to a common accord and definitely free the dispute in the international justice court. Among the highlighted activities they carry out: the verification and the elaboration of reports over any incident; support for local governments, the migration officials, the agencies in charge of emergencies and natural disasters, and coordinating with police and the Belize defense forces and the Guatemalan army.

A few months after taking over the secretary general of the Organization of American States (OAS) in May of last year, we sent a mission to Haiti and the Dominican Republic to intercede in a migratory dispute of both countries.  The mission presented a report that was well received by both countries and it meant the possibility of an open and permanent dialogue.

I also want to highlight the mission support work against corruption and impunity in Honduras (MACCIH) [Misión de Apoyo Contra la Corrupción y la Impunidad en Honduras]. We started it a few month ago and it works day to day to end the scourge of corruption.

In addition to combating corruption, the MACCIH also works to ensure peace in Honduras because security and stability of the Honduran democratic institutions are key to secure peace. These are initiatives that demonstrate that the Organization of American States (OAS) is committed with promoting and procuring peace for the benefit of all Americans.

One of our guiding actions has been from the first day to never worry about problems that arise in the hemisphere. It is why we do not hesitate in raising our voice to the situation the Venezuelan regimen currently traverses.

Many institutions are currently paralyzed and its inhabitants are submitted to a food and medicine shortage. Until mid-year, member states of the organization did not address the issue as it corresponded in the crisis dynamic that our brother country had. That brother country that finds itself in a political, social, and economic crisis without precedent; a broken democracy.

In June. I presented a report to the permanent council of the Organization of American States (OAS) about the situation that Venezuela encounters and I asked for the activation of the Inter-American charter based on the Article 20 in full compliance with the capacities that this article grants the secretary general of the organization of American states.

In August, fifteen countries of the Americas, among those Paraguay, issued a public declaration over the Venezuelan situation where they demanded the government to convene the recall referendum for this year as the only way out of the political crisis.

Nowadays, a regional or sub regional forum can ignore reality that today in Venezuela there is no democracy or rule of law. Mercosur is the best example to follow in that sense; their members go and impede Venezuela from taking over the presidency and they have pressured so they comply with the requirements, their commitment with the sub regional bloc from here to December.

As members of the Inter-American system, we all want the same thing; a peaceful solution to the crisis of the country. Nobody can look back; the countries of Mercosur took a step forward. From the Organization of American States (OAS) we will continue to boost the principles enshrined in the Inter-American democratic charter and action with respect to it is our duty to do so and do so as fast as the crisis situation merits.

Friends, in conclusion I leave a pending issue in our continent. We live in the most unequitable continent in the world with the paradox which has some of the most fertile land in the planet and with the most freshwater resources. With the economic boom that we lived between 2002 and 2012, tens of millions of people came out of poverty. The number of social programs that helped the poverty, inequality, and social exclusion indices increased. For the first time in our history, the size of the middle class exceeded the number of people living in poverty, but the economic growth stalled at the regional level, especially in the fall of the commodity prices. And now we find the complex situation, there exists the risk of losing gains reached in social issues. This affects the people's expectations with respect to the effectiveness of its political systems; citizen discontent with the services the democracy gives them must be consolidated, it must be combated, it must be confronted with the resources that democracy has. The solutions within democracy are more democracy and more democratization. For this reason, the Organization of American States (OAS) more than ever, must advocate so that all its citizens have the same opportunities for progress. In the social charter of the Americas dated 2012, the countries recognized that the American states have a right to development within a framework of solidarity, equity, peace, and freedom; the states, the duty to promote it with the end of eradicating poverty. That same charter also expresses that the states have the responsibility to develop and implement politics and programs of integral social protection that give priority to people that live in poverty and vulnerable conditions. The general assembly celebrated here in Asuncion in 2014 recognized that to confront the challenges of the 21st century, it is a question of achieving an Organization of American States (OAS) that is closer to people. “Development with Social Inclusion” was the theme of that assembly proposed by Paraguay.

As a multilateral organism, we have made tangible efforts to promote the social agenda in the Americas. The member states have also demonstrated a high grade of commitment.

In July of this year we celebrated here in Asuncion the third reunion of ministers and high authorities in social development of the Americas. The encounter will approve a compromise for the social development which are the great accords which should set the agenda for the development and social inclusion at the regional level.

Since then the Organization of American States (OAS) has been following up on the ministerial closing, including through the Inter-American web of social protection and maintain an active dialogue between authorities on the way to the next ministerial of 2018 in Guatemala.

Likewise, by supporting the countries of the Americas and reach its objectives 2030 of sustainable development. The Organization of American States (OAS) and the Pan American Health Organization agreed to jointly cooperate, and these days we are finalizing an accord of similar cooperation with the Population Fund of the United Nations.

The 2030 agenda is a step beyond the objectives of development of the millennium because it takes into consideration the needs, a developmental paradigm that works for people. If our commitment to peace, the defense of democracy and human rights, we are capable of articulating the 2030 agenda to do away with social exclusion. In the Americas, we will be complying with bringing the Organization of American States (OAS) near the real problems of the people and placing our organization at the height of the challenges of the 21st century.

Friends from the whole continent, friends of Paraguay, we count on you to propel this progress agenda, passed in the importance that citizens have, today, at the hour of consolidating democracy and peace in the continent.