Assistant Secretary General Speech


September 14, 2017 - Washington, DC

Ambassador Antonio García Revilla, National Coordinator of Peru and Chair of the Summits Process
Distinguished National Coordinators of the Summits Process
Secretary of Hemispheric Affairs
Representatives of the institutions of the Joint Summit Working Group
Distinguished Delegates
Michael Shifter and Michael Camilleri from the Inter-American Dialogue
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is a pleasure to welcome you to this Second Regular Meeting of 2017 of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG). I take this opportunity to thank and congratulate the Government of Peru for its committed leadership, and for the dedicated team it has tasked with preparing for the Eighth Summit of the Americas.

Ladies and Gentlemen, today we meet to continue assembling the building blocks and essential elements that will ensure a smooth and an effective preparatory phase leading to the Lima Summit. This meeting provides an excellent opportunity to initiate a substantive dialogue focused on the main challenges facing the region in the fight against corruption. It is an issue that requires our undivided attention and will demand an integral approach as we understand and try to solve the many layers of the cancer known as corruption. That is but one reason why the presence here of so many strategic partners and stakeholders is so important.

Señoras y señores, basta con escuchar las noticias del día a día para comprender la gravedad del problema de la corrupción, y las profundas implicaciones que este contagio significa para el desarrollo de nuestros pueblos. Hemos visto gobiernos tambalearse frente a estos desafíos, y reconocemos que para avanzar frente a estos retos, tenemos que hacerlo juntos, ya que los efectos nefarios afectan todo ámbito de nuestras vidas.

In the economic arena, corruption discourages investment, distorts trade and public spending priorities and reduces economic growth. It also reinforces and amplifies inequalities by facilitating unequal appropriation of wealth and privileges through unscrupulous means. Furthermore, corruption aggravates poverty, by imposing an additional cost on the provision of essential public services. It also has a profound deleterious impact on the ability of the State to implement rule of law and it drastically erodes citizen security.

These are some critical issues, and the institutions gathered here today play a key role in helping to identify concrete courses of action to address them. It is important to highlight the invaluable contribution that the institutions that comprise the Joint Summit Working Group have provided to the Summits process over the years, and the fundamental role they play not only in the preparatory phase of the Summits, but more importantly, in bringing to fruition many mandates that emanate from our hemispheric leaders.

I also wish to underscore the important role played by civil society and other social actors that are engaged in the Summits process. This includes not only the Civil Society Forum and High-Level Dialogue that takes place at the Summit, but also the parallel meetings of the private sector and youth. Tomorrow morning before the SIRG resumes, the Young Americas Business Trust will launch its own preparatory process at 9:00 AM in the Hall of the Americas. I hope that delegates will show their support by joining us for that event.

The dedicated engagement of all the stakeholders and partners is an essential ingredient in the Summit process and serves as a source of legitimacy and substantive value added. But beyond that, we need their full engagement and cooperation if we are to address in a serious manner the issue of democratic governance and corruption that besets our region. As was clear in yesterday’s Policy Dialogue, which was organized together with the Inter-American Dialogue, actors outside government also contribute in equal manner to the problem of corruption, and therefore they must also be a part of the solution. And the quest for solutions requires extensive dialogue with all groups.

In this context, we are making significant efforts to promote the effective participation and expanding the opportunities for dialogue with all our partners, including the business sector and academia. Secretary Lambert will outline for you tomorrow how we hope to build on the very positive and constructive experience of civil society engagement at the General Assembly, as we engage with these actors in preparation for the VIII Summit of the Americas.

Before concluding I wish to underscore the continued commitment of the OAS General Secretariat and especially our Summit’s Office, to the entire Summits process. I especially wish to assure the Government of Peru that they can count on our full as they Chair this process and steer us toward the Summit, and we wish them all the best. As we look at the experience of our past Summits, and we look to future ones, we should remember the wisdom in an old proverb that says, if you wish to go fast, go alone, if you wish to go far, go together. That is what the Summit is about, and we must go together.

Thank you.