The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, took part today in the inauguration of the XLI Course on International Law "Dispute Resolution in International Law," and the 85th regular session of the Inter-American Juridical Committee (CJI) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
Secretary General Insulza took part in the opening of the event together with President of the CJI and former Secretary General of the OAS, Ambassador João Clemente Baena Soares, and the OAS Secretary for Legal Affairs, Jean Michel Arrighi. In his address, the OAS leader highlighted “the importance of an international organization for the consolidation of the rule of law” and emphasized the role of the Organization in the creation of “a legal basis in the most diverse areas such as dispute resolution, development, hemispheric security, human rights, and not least, in terms of representative democracy.”
Secretary General Insulza recalled that during the Third Summit of the Americas in Quebec, Canada in 2001, “the initiative to systematize, improve and develop together norms and mechanisms for the promotion and defense of democracy, strengthening them and updating them to the new challenges of the region through the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”
Insulza said “it is worth repeating that the OAS has been one of the few international organizations in which a requisite for allowing a state to participate is that it has stable democratic institutions. Other regions in the world continue to follow our example.”
With respect to one of the most important legal instruments in recent decades, which gives a framework for the consolidation of democratic institutions in the region, the OAS leader said “dialogue with states and the experiences developed have allowed for the identification of some of the challenges with respect to better application of the Inter-American Charter among which are the issues relative to the preventive capacity of the OAS; the role of the Secretary General with respect to the application of the Charter, as well as those of other state powers and civil society; greater precision of the concepts contained in the Charter; the need to have the consent of the affected government to authorize visits and other more concrete measures in charge of the Secretary General or the Permanent Council; among others.”
However Insulza warned that despite these advances, “to speak about democracy in Latin America today, the OAS cannot limit itself to legal matters, but we must make a necessary reflection on the other aspects of the definition of democracy that go beyond the democratic generation of powers and the preservation of authority of governments.” He recalled on this point that in 2006 the CJI presented a report on the “legal aspects of the interdependence between democracy and economic and social development,” which concludes that the mission of the OAS to defend democracy “is clearly accompanied by that of preventing and anticipating the causes that affect it,” and affirms that democracy cannot be considered as a “fixed” concept especially and above all when it is seen through the lenses of its practical application in individual countries.
“This issue has been the subject of special attention by the OAS, particularly in recent years,” he said, adding that although the problem is not simple to resolve, “the challenge of achieving a more just distribution lies in the formulation of public policies that include effective social policies and re-examination of adjustments compatible with economic growth, but defending the interests of the most vulnerable sectors.” In synthesis, he said “this will contribute in an effective way to the consolidation of a rule of law that the most pure and direct expression of representative democracy.”
Insulza said as a complementary effort to the Inter-American Democratic Charter, “recently the OAS adopted another Charter, this time, the Social Charter of the Americas, which is an answer to this recognition of the close links between the development of our countries and the eradication of poverty.” He explained “the Social Charter of the Americas looks to be a instrument of action and cooperation toward the promotion of integral development and the observance of economic, social and cultural rights, as well as the elimination of poverty and inequality, a necessary complement to the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”
Finally, he recalled “the very Charter of the OAS establishes as one of its essential purposes the eradication of critical poverty, considering it an obstacle to the full democratic development of the peoples of the Hemisphere. For its part, the Inter-American Democratic Charters says that poverty, illiteracy, and low levels of human development are factors that negatively affect the consolidation of democracy.
For his part, Ambassador Baena Soares highlighted the presence of the Secretary General, the history of the Committee, whose oldest antecedent dates from 1906, and the importance of the Course in the training of professionals, among other issues.
Before the inauguration of the seminar, Secretary General Insulza met with Ambassador Baena Soares.
The CJI is a consultative body of the OAS in legal issues in virtue of the Charter of the Organization and is composed of eleven national jurists from the member states, elected for a term of four years. The 85th meeting of the CJI will end on Friday August 8. The Course on Law is organized each year by the CJI and the Department of International Law of the Secretariat for Legal Issues of the OAS.
A gallery of photos of the event is available here.
For more information, please visit the OAS Website at www.oas.org.