Assistant Secretary General Speech


November 10, 2021 - Washington, DC

• Ladies and gentlemen of the media, thank you for joining us this afternoon.

• As you may be aware, owing to the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic, the 51st Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly will once again be held virtually.

• Notwithstanding, I am pleased to note that several delegations have opted to participate in-person in the plenary sessions. To that end, in an effort to ensure the health and safety of all delegations present, guided by recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Federal Government, and local authorities, the General Secretariat is facilitating access to OAS headquarters to accredited delegates from Member States under strict prevention measures to avoid further spread of the virus.

• The General Assembly is the highest decision-making body of the OAS and the decisions made by the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and other Heads of Delegations in the next few days will guide the work program and priorities of the Organization over the coming year. This gathering will provide a unique opportunity for dialogue and consensus-building, strengthening multilateralism and cooperation, and engendering a hemispheric perspective for solving shared challenges, most importantly the recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

• I would like to express my deepest appreciation to the Government of Guatemala for offering to host this 51st General Assembly of the OAS, marking this its fourth time as host.

• On September 1, 2021, Minister Brolo presented the theme of the 51st OAS General Assembly, “Towards Renewal in the Americas,” and in doing so, he reaffirmed Guatemala’s commitment to promoting solidarity and hemispheric cooperation as contained in the OAS Charter.

• Heartfelt thanks to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Guatemala, Pedro Brolo, the Permanent Representative of Guatemala to the OAS, Ambassador Rita Claverie, and all support staff for their unwavering dedication and commitment. We have worked very closely with them over the past few months and look forward to a successful Assembly.

• This year’s theme addresses the need to redouble efforts towards fostering a renewed, strengthened, and inclusive approach to advancing the hemispheric agenda.

• The General Assembly will also adopt Resolutions and Declarations related to developments in the Covid-19 pandemic and its impact on the hemisphere; hemispheric initiatives on integral development; hemispheric response to disasters and the fight against hunger and poverty; increasing and strengthening the participation of Civil Society in OAS activities, as well as financing of the Organization's budget, among others.

• I wish to provide you now with an overview of the number of participants in attendance at this General Assembly.

• As of this morning at 9:00 am, we delivered 671 credentials in total to the participants in the 51st Regular Session of the General Assembly, of which:

• There were a total of 258 delegates participating from our Member States. This includes 27 Ministers of Foreign Affairs accredited as heads of delegations, and 7 Vice Ministers and other High-Level Authorities. We have 48 accredited representatives from 33 Permanent Observer countries to the OAS.

• The General Secretariat processed 198 registration requests from civil society organizations, workers' organizations, private sector organizations, and organizations of communities of Indigenous Peoples and persons of African descent to attend the General Assembly as special guests. The number of participants from these groups amounted to approximately 338 persons.

• In addition, we have participation from 37 International Organizations with 57 total delegates.

• It should also be noted that important elections will be held for the decentralized and autonomous organizations of the OAS including the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Juridical Committee, the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, the Administrative Tribunal, and the Board of External Auditors.

• These elections will take place during the Third Plenary Session on Friday, November 12, they are:

 Three members of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)
5 candidates from: Mexico, Colombia, Chile, Barbados, United States

 Four members of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
7 candidates from: Brazil, Paraguay, Peru, Costa Rica, Argentina, Chile, Suriname

 Three members of the Inter-American Juridical Committee (CJI), from which we have only one candidate from Peru

 Two members of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA)
2 candidates from: United States and Panama

 One member of the Administrative Tribunal (TRIBAD)
1 candidates from Ecuador

 One member of the Board of External Auditors
1 candidate from Antigua and Barbuda

• I also wish to mention the dialogue held yesterday and prior to the start of the General Assembly with representatives of civil society organizations, during which the highest authorities of the OAS presented perspectives on the COVID-19 pandemic, human rights, democracy, and security, among other issues, with representatives of civil society organizations from the Hemisphere, the private sector and other social actors.

• In conclusion, I take this opportunity to recognize and applaud the dedicated workforce of the General Secretariat who played an instrumental role in organizing this General Assembly. It is my hope that this will be a successful and productive Assembly from which concrete actions will emanate leading to greater prosperity and development for the peoples of the Americas.
Thank you.