45th Session of the General Assembly of the OAS

"Present and Future of the Organization of American States"

On June 14 to 15 the 45th Session on the General Assembly of the Organization of American States took place in Washington DC.  The General Assembly is the principal organ of the OAS, composed of the delegations of all member states, usually led by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs or high level representatives from the countries.

The 45th Assembly was the first of the mandate of the Secretary General, Luis Almagro. The central theme of the Assembly, proposed by the Mission of Uruguay to the OAS was: "Present and Future of the OAS", which perfectly portraits the historical moment of change in the organization.

The new Secretary General Almagro, in his opening speech, highlighted the key priorities of the organization, as well as the role of OAS to be recognized as the Hemisphere’s political forum, in which all the countries play an equal part, getting inspired by the founding principles of democracy, human rights, security and development. Almagro urges to concentrate on the real problems such as poverty, inequality, the promotion of human rights, of democracy, development and climate change.

From the point of view of development, Almagro says there are more than a billion of us in the Hemisphere: one in every seven people in the world calls the Americas home. The Americas generate more than a quarter of the planet’s output. We have untold resources and enormous potential”.

The Secretary General also highlighted the leading points he wants to pursue in his mandate, crystalized in the headline MORE RIGHTS FOR MORE PEOPLE, as the way forward to expand opportunities for all in the Americas, taking into consideration the important issued of Citizen security, School of Government, Prevention of social conflicts, the promotion of a Pan American Education System,  the Interconnectivity in the Caribbean and Central America, which will benefit all the member states.

On its first day of sessions, the Assembly approved the resolution on “Modernization and Reorganization of the General Secretariat in Accordance with the Strategic Vision for the Organization and for Strengthening the Inter-American System,” presented by the Secretary General, Luis Almagro. “We want an OAS that functions efficiently on two levels of action, and that this benefits all the member countries and their citizens directly,” said Secretary General.  Almagro want to instill a culture of results whereby the institution, its Secretary General, and its staff are evaluated on the basis of their results and aim to be more cost-effective in their work.

Moreover, a dialogue with the Inter-American Development Bank already started, in order to establish working groups in several areas to avoid duplication and to leverage respective comparative advantages. New synergies would be created with the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), and other institutions of the system while, at the same time, forging closer cooperation with other institutions at the global level, such as the World Bank. There are also as yet untapped opportunities for cooperation with UNASUR, CELAC, SICA, CARICOM, MERCOSUR, and other regional forums that we will explore to strengthen hemispheric actions.

In addition the Assembly approved the Inter-American Convention on Protecting the Human Rights of Older Persons. In this way, the hemispheric institution now has a legally binding regional instrument that protects the human rights of older persons and inspires an active aging process in all environments.

Finally, it is important to highlight the commitment of the Secretary General to include the contribution of civil society to the work of OAS. In the weekend leading to the General Assembly, several meetings have been organized with representatives of the civil society, representatives of workers, the private sector and Permanent Observers, in order to explore further mechanisms for inclusion and cooperation with mutual benefit for all stakeholders.