WASHINGTON, USA -- The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the secretary general of the institution, José Miguel Insulza, on Wednesday received the secretary-general of the United Nations (UN), Ban Ki-moon, in an official meeting at the headquarters of the hemispheric organization in Washington, DC.
The UN secretary-general, in his address, paid tribute to the OAS as "the world’s oldest regional organization" and stressed "the importance of an even deeper strategic partnership among us."
"You have experiences to share, ideas to spread, energy to help fuel global solutions," said the UN leader.
Insulza, for his part, highlighted the role of the Western Hemisphere in global geopolitics and said, "We want a mutually supportive Americas region that acts in solidarity not only with its members, but with all the nations of the world that work tirelessly to ensure the dignity of their citizens."
The OAS secretary general welcomed Ban Ki-moon and recalled, in his speech, the long collaboration between the two organizations.
”The Americas and the United Nations have forged deep and broad cooperation ties, an unparalleled level of collaboration that dates from its creation,” he said, and cited specifically the region’s support to the new international system that came into being at the San Francisco Conference in 1945 that formally established the United Nations .
“Of the 50 founding member states of the UN, 22 are from the Americas and are members of this Organization,” Insulza recalled.
The “long-standing multilateral tradition” that has characterized both organizations was the focus of Insulza’s speech, who mentioned that for more than 60 years, the UN and the OAS have worked together continuously in several conflicts that have threatened peace in our region.
Among them he highlighted the work to open the way for peace in Central America, monitoring and verifying its compliance, which “unquestionably strengthened the effects and scope of multilateralism.”
He also cited the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH), “in which the region's countries adopted a predominant role, in a gesture of hemispheric solidarity with one of the founding nations of our two organizations.”
Insulza also spoke about the “far-reaching cooperation agenda” of both institutions in the areas of education, gender, climate change, water management, drugs and security, and counter-terrorism.
“We hope to continue enhancing our cooperation to complements our strengths and coordinate our efforts every time more effectively,” he said and referred to the “common responsibility” that the two organizations share: “the protection of human rights, transparency of elections, consolidation of peace and security for our citizens, and integral development for our peoples are universal values that guide our work.”
In closing, and remarking on the coordinated work of the two multilateral institutions, Insulza insisted that “we want to work together to free our societies from violence and fear; to face the threats of drug trafficking and organized crime that damage our democracies; to allow every citizen of our nations to live in peace and security.”
Likewise, he valued Ban Ki-moon’s uncompromising commitment to the values of the United Nations, which in his view “enhances the organizational ties that unite our two organizations and command our grateful admiration”.
In his remarks, Ban Ki-moon stressed that, in his travels through the Americas, he has noted "tremendous progress and promise wherever I have been. Many economies in the region are growing. Democratic institutions are strengthening. The global influence of the Americas as a whole is on the rise."
"And there is no doubt in my mind: the engagement of the Western Hemisphere and its regional structures are crucial to addressing 21st century challenges and carrying forward our common agenda," said the UN secretary-general.
Regarding the global context, Ban Ki-moon acknowledged that "I am also here in the midst of many other pressing realities in the world around us." These include "this week’s nuclear test conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea;" the situation in Syria, where "more than 60,000 people have been brutally killed;" the Middle East, where "we must continue to work for peace between Israelis and Palestinians;" "a sustained and systemic crisis across the Sahel region,” "in which Mali is only a part" and drug trafficking worldwide.
Addressing the permanent representatives to the OAS, the UN leader said, in the context of transnational organized crime and drug trafficking, "the United Nations is committed to working with you to combat these regional, and indeed, global challenges.”
On the role of the OAS in fueling solutions to the problems that arise in today's society, the UN secretary-general said that "in our increasingly integrated world, cooperation between the United Nations and regional organizations is not just an aspiration, it is a necessity." He went on to mention areas where the tasks of both agencies already coincide, such as collaboration in electoral activities, the International Civilian Mission in Haiti, working together against drugs, crime, and corruption, and synergies in terms of human rights.
"In all these areas and more, our complementary agendas are clear," said Ban Ki-moon.
Ban Ki-moon placed special emphasis on the concept of the complementarity of the priorities of the UN and OAS.
"As I began my second term as secretary-general," he said, "I identified five areas where needs are greatest and where collective action can make the greatest difference: sustainable development, preventive diplomacy, supporting nations in transition, building a more secure world, and empowering women and young people."
"These imperatives align with the four pillars of the Organization of American States: democracy, human rights, security and development," said the UN leader.
In particular on development, the UN secretary-general welcomed the progress that has been made in the Americas in reducing poverty, while he said "structural problems persist," especially a high degree of inequality. He cited the need to advance solutions to climate change, and called for support from the region because "a global climate change agreement would give the engine we need to advance decisively on this path."
"I have addressed many challenges and opportunities today - but each underscores the interconnections between policies and people. And each highlights the vitality of Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Americas region as a whole," said the UN secretary general.
"You are crucial to leading us all to a better world of dignity, prosperity, opportunity and social justice," he said.
The meeting of the permanent council was presided over by the chair of the permanent council and permanent representative of Nicaragua to the OAS, Ambassador Denis Moncada.
Moncada opened the event affirming that the visit of Ban Ki-moon "is a testament to the special relationship between the United Nations and the OAS, which is recognized in the San Francisco Charter and in several of its General Assembly resolutions."
The Nicaraguan representative referred to Ban Ki-moon’s diplomatic career in South Korea and to his enduring leadership on issues related to the fight against terrorism, the promotion of peace the search for peaceful resolutions to the conflicts in various regions of the world, and promoting issues of the global agenda such as climate change, gender equality, sustainable and inclusive development, non-proliferation arms control and disarmament.