The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today appointed a committee to consider the resolution to be sent to the Special General Assembly on drugs to be held on September 19 in Antigua, Guatemala, re-elected the Permanent Representative of Mexico to chair the Working Group on Strategic Vision of the hemispheric institution, and paid tribute to former Haitian President Lesly Manigat, who recently passed away.
The Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the OAS, José María Argueta said the Declaration of Antigua Guatemala, together with the report presented by the OAS that year on the World Drug Problem, Analytical Report - Scenarios Report -prepared by a team led by the Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza and pursuant to a mandate from the Summit of the Americas 2012- constitute "the policy framework that sets the tone for the discussion and debate about the global drug problem in the Americas, and without false modesty, beyond the Americas."
Ambassador Argueta highlighted the progress of the region in the discussion on drug policy over the past two years; and stated that the September meeting will be a success if the Hemisphere reaches an agreement to present a joint position at the United Nations General Assembly in 2016, which will discuss the global drug problem.
Secretary General Insulza stressed the importance that the issue be addressed by the Organization and its member states, and stressed the importance of the Assembly as a forum "to express our opinions to know where the drug issue is heading." The Secretary General expressed his support for the conventions on drugs signed internationally, while recalling that "this Organization and several of its member countries have shown their ability to flexibly interpret these conventions in pursuit of the welfare of their own people." In particular, he positively valued experiences on drug policies that have been made in some countries and cities of the Americas, with a more comprehensive approach linked to the prevention and care rather than repression of the drug issue, adding that "we must make clear our irrevocable decision to continue to fight more effectively against organized crime."
At another point on the agenda and in response to a request from Brazil, the Council re-elected the Permanent Representative of Mexico, Emilio Rabasa, to continue to lead the Working Group on the Strategic Vision of the OAS.
The Council -which met at the headquarters of the hemispheric institution in Washington, DC, and was chaired by the Permanent Representative of Saint Lucia, Sonia Johnny- paid tribute to former Haitian President Professor Lesly Manigat, who recently died at age 83. The Council observed a minute of silence in his honor.
The Interim Representative of Haiti to the OAS, Bocchit Edmond, recalled former President Manigat and noted his "sense of the patriotic ideal and high esteem for Haiti as the first independent country in the Hemisphere." "His departure leaves an immeasurable void in the intellectual universe of Haiti and also in the region, he was a great humanist and not only belonged to Haiti, but to the whole world," he said. Representative Edmond stressed the long academic career of the former Haitian President, during which he taught world history at universities in the United States, France and Venezuela. "Thank you for your eclecticism and intellectual humanism" added the Haitian diplomat.
Secretary General Insulza noted that when professor Manigat took office in 1988 he did so with the purpose of working for democracy in Haiti, "and that's why the military overthrew him four months later." "It is right that we provide this tribute to someone who always strove to give Haiti the democracy to which all our countries are fully entitled. Our tribute to Lesly Manigat and condolences to the people of Haiti and his family for his death," said OAS Secretary General.
Also during today’s meeting, the Council approved the convening of the First Special Conference of States Parties to the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women (Convention of Belém do Pará) on October 23 and 24, 2014; received the draft agenda of the 89th Regular Meeting of the Directing Council of the Inter-American Children’s Institute; and heard a presentation by the Permanent Representative of Peru to the OAS, Juan Federico Jiménez Mayor, on the inclusion of the Qhapaq Ñan Andean Road System on the UNESCO World Heritage List. In his presentation, Ambassador Jiménez highlighted the cultural and historical importance of the infrastructure of Inca origin that crosses six countries in the region, as well as its recent recognition by UNESCO.
Finally, the Council bid farewell to the Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the OAS, Edgar Ugalde, who has concluded his mission. The Chair of the Council said that with his presence in the Organization, all the countries “have benefited from your knowledge of international law and your advice on legal matters.” In addition, she highlighted his “true professionalism” and said “your willingness to dialogue has not gone unnoticed.”
Secretary General Insulza, for his part, highlighted the “great wisdom” of Ambassador Ugalde, his “knowledge of history and law,” as well as his “courage in defending his principles.” “I want to express my appreciation and respect for the enormous contribution that you have made to this Organization and also to its Secretary General,” he concluded.
In his farewell, Ambassador Ugalde said it “hurts my heart” to leave the OAS, and thanked the collaboration of the representatives of the member countries as well as the staff of the hemispheric institution for the fulfillment of their tasks. In his farewell, he summarized the challenges facing the body, and emphasized the importance of continuing to work on the Strategic Vision of the OAS, proposed by Secretary General Insulza.
During the meeting, the representatives of Antigua and Barbuda (on behalf of CARICOM), the United States, Costa Rica, Honduras, Venezuela, Mexico, Guyana, Colombia, Canada, Panama, Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina, Ecuador, Belize (on behalf of SICA), El Salvador, Brazil, Saint Kitts and Nevis, Paraguay, Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic, Uruguay, Dominica, Guatemala, Saint Lucia, Haiti, and the Observer of France and Germany took the floor.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.