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Colección: INTERAMER
Número: 66
Año: 1999
Autor: Christopher R. Thomas
Título: The Organization of American States in its 50th Year: Overview of a Regional Commitment

III. Enhancing Technical Cooperation

The specific provision of technical cooperation within the recent amendments to the Charter is a significant and notable achievement, particularly for the less endowed states of the region. Its practical value will depend on the sustained progressive strengthening and concrete translation of the provision into projects and priorities of technical cooperation. The initiative for the reform in Managua was a spontaneous outgrowth of the commitment by the entire membership to eradicate poverty. CARICOM members of the Organization made an important contribution in the development and the bringing into fruition of that reform. In this regard, the consensual agreement on the reform has served to advance the growing awareness, sensitivity, and cooperative outreach of the collective membership to the particularities of the smaller and more recent members of the Organization, and to their priority needs in the economic and social spheres. Two concrete expressions of this are:
i. The continued search, through the instrumentality of the Organization, for a structured balance in the trade negotiations for the future Free Trade Area of the Americas, in respect of the needs and interests of small states; and

ii. The membership commitment to the development of a regional program for the practical implementation of measures to meet the security concerns of small states.
In both these areas, the dynamic and expert leadership of the delegation of Jamaica (Trade), the active involvement of the delegation of Mexico, and the pioneering and sustained direction of the delegation of Antigua and Barbuda (Security) have been recognized and commended throughout the region. CIDI has been established at the ministerial level and constitutes an important forum of dialogue and action commensurate with that of other inter-ministerial mechanisms.

The third initiative of the early nineties is the commitment to the elimination of poverty. It derives from the Special Session of the Assembly in Mexico City, in February 1994 and is particularly significant in two respects: first it reemphasizes the focus on the need for the alleviation/eradication of poverty as an imperative for regional economic development. Secondly, it establishes a regional mechanism through which that imperative should be engaged. That mechanism was very practically described in a new Partnership for Development. The Declaration of the Special Session is entitled Commitment on a Partnership for Development and the Struggle to Overcome Extreme Poverty. The Declaration recognizes that:
Democracy, development, and respect for all human rights are mutually reinforcing interdependent concepts, and that development and surmounting extreme poverty are a matter of priority for the exercise of those rights. 5
It further commits:
To promote a Partnership for Development as a fundamental objective of the OAS and as an ideal instrument for collectively supporting national development efforts and, particularly, for helping to overcome extreme poverty in the Hemisphere. 6
The general policy framework and priorities of the decisions of the Special Assembly in relation to its declaration provides, inter alia, that:
Partnership for Development must take on new dimensions by encompassing all countries, regardless of their particular levels of development. This entails overcoming the traditional aid-oriented approach and developing instead forms of cooperation based on a partnership which, without attempting to impose models, would support economic and social measures taken by countries for their development, particularly those to combat poverty. 7
A clear and ineluctable thread can be established from and between, the first institutional economic and social reform of the Charter of the Organization in 1967 through the recommendations of the groups of Wise Men: 1975, 1981, and 1991, other general developmental initiatives, the Protocol of Washington, the Protocol of Managua, and the mandates and decisions of the Special General Assembly in Mexico City in 1994. That thread would firmly establish the elevation of the human element as the center of development, the need to provide adequate resources and to craft appropriate institutional machinery to bring this endeavor to full realization; the recognition that the focus of the regional effort must be primarily the individual; that technical cooperation must be structurally designed and targeted to the most vulnerable and least protected societal groups, through an integrated development approach; that economic and social advancement must be predicated on social justice; that societal ecumenism can be the only true basis of a radically new human order; and that the future of the region must be fashioned in accordance with the above stated tenets. Such future fashioning of the Hemisphere must, of necessity, ensure that particular attention be paid to the incorporation of women, youth, minorities, and the mentally and physically challenged into the new development thrust. In the past the need for incorporation of these groups into every aspect of the Organization’s programming has been an area of weakness, which needs to be addressed with much urgency.

The above position was recently reinforced by the heads of state and governments of the Hemisphere, during their recently concluded Second Summit of the Americas, in Chile, (April 1998). In their Plan of Action they agreed to:
Examine the existing laws and their implementation in order to identify obstacles limiting the full participation of women in the political, economic, social and cultural life of our countries. Whenever necessary, promote, reform, or create new laws to eliminate all forms of discrimination and violence against women and to guarantee the protection of children’s rights.8
They also expressed a commitment to:
Give special attention to the incorporation of socially-disadvantaged groups into the work force, including women, minorities, youth, the disabled and other vulnerable populations and to the services offered by the Ministries of labor that take into consideration their special needs.9
In the context of this composite regional development framework, the special session of the General Assembly in Mexico occupies a pivotal position in the Organization’s involvement with the region. It reaffirmed the need for social equity; recommitted the region to that cause; implicitly acknowledged the deficiencies of the Organization’s membership in the realization of this larger objective; and prescribed and enjoined the wider network of social actors as indispensable collaborative partners in the pursuit of that regional endeavor. In this regard, it essentially posited a most timely role for the Organization—one of catalyst and facilitator in the structuring of a wider cooperative enterprise in the furthest outreach of inter-American and global cooperation.

The Protocol of Managua and the Special Assembly in Mexico occupy a central position in the momentum of regional economic and social development. Both the Protocol and the Special Assembly cover a most comprehensive agenda in the economic and social areas. Managua revisits “inter alia” the questions of trade and tourism, which had been established as priority areas in 1967 in the Declaration of Port of Spain and focuses both questions within a fuller integrated framework for regional development. Managua also advocates the deepening and expansion of cooperative arrangements within and without the Hemisphere for the broadest outreach in technical cooperation. The Special Assembly’s declaration in Mexico, in 1994, complements the content of the Protocol of Managua and identifies and establishes the functional mechanism of wider partnership in the consolidation and promotion of the development of the region. The complementarity of both instruments served to focus the hemispheric agenda of the nineties and their attributions have informed the NEW VISION of the Organization which was promulgated at the twenty-fifth regular session of the General Assembly in the Declaration of Montrouis (Haiti, 1995)