OAS Permanent Council Refers Draft Social Charter of the Americas to the General Assembly of Cochabamba

Jorge Saggiante, OAS Acting Executive Secretary for Integral Development Leonidas Rosa Bautista, Chair of the OAS Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of Honduras to the OAS Diego Pary, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the OAS

OAS News…May 17 2012 — The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Permanent Executive Committee of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CEPCIDI) today held a joint meeting that approved the referral to the General Assembly of the Social Charter of the Americas and the development of an action plan for its implementation.

Daniel Cerno, Alternate United States Representative to the OAS and Chair of the Working Group on the Draft Social Charter of the Americas, presented the text of the resolution, which highlights “the effort and commitment of all Member States to promote and protect all the human rights of the people of the Americas, including economic, social and cultural rights, in a spirit of goodwill and cooperation.”

The Joint Working Group of the Permanent Council and CEPCIDI initiated discussions on the Social Charter in September 2005. The Heads of State and Government at the Fourth Summit of the Americas held in Mar del Plata, Argentina in November 2005 highlighted the importance of the Charter initiative. After reaching a consensus, final approval will be decided by the Foreign Ministers of the hemisphere, who will meet from June 3 to 5 in Cochabamba, Bolivia, at the 42nd OAS General Assembly.

The Social Charter, which now has the consensus of the Member States, begins with the recognition that “the people of Americas have a legitimate aspiration for social justice and their governments have the responsibility to promote it. Development with equity strengthens and consolidates democracy, in that they are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.”

The Charter also argues that the “promotion and observance of economic, social and cultural rights are inherently linked to integral development, equitable economic growth and the consolidation of democracy in the states of the hemisphere.” “We the Member States are committed to promoting and achieving progressively the full realization of the economic, social and cultural rights and principles through policies and programs that we consider most effective and appropriate to our needs, in accordance with our democratic processes and resources,” reads the text.

The Charter expressly recognizes “the contributions of indigenous peoples, African descents and migrant communities” to the development of the hemisphere and confirms the need for governments to adopt “policies to promote inclusion, to prevent, combat and eliminate all forms of intolerance and discrimination, especially gender, ethnic and racial discrimination, to protect equal rights and opportunities and to strengthen democratic values.”

The Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the OAS, Diego Pary, who co-led the session with the Chair of the Permanent Council and Permanent Representative of Honduras to the OAS, Leonidas Rosa Bautista, said it “will be an honor for my country, Bolivia, to host the adoption of the Social Charter,” and announced a ceremony would be held in Cochabamba to signal the approval of the document.

During the session the representatives of Venezuela, Mexico, Peru, Argentina, Colombia, Canada, Brazil, Chile, Barbados and Nicaragua all took part. In general, Member States called the referral of the Social Charter to the General Assembly a “step forward,” and expressed their support for the development of the action plan.

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