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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

IV. Exploiting the Benefits of Partnership

The spirit which led to the Protocol of Managua, the provisions of the Protocol, and the basis of the mechanisms of partnership for development, established by the special assembly session in Mexico city, require a comprehensive and sustained outreach by the Organization through cooperative arrangements with agencies and entities within the Hemisphere.

The Charter confers upon the various organs of the Organization the authority to enter into cooperative relations with other entities. Since its inception the Organization and its organs have entered into a number of cooperative agreements with agencies of member states, with other international organizations, and with nongovernmental organizations (NGOs). In 1971 the General Assembly enacted general guidelines for conducting cooperative relations—”Standards on Cooperative Relations Between the Organization of American States and the United Nations, its Specialized Agencies, and other International Organizations”— Resolution AG/Res. 57(1-0/71). Since that time the General Assembly has adopted several more specialized resolutions setting out more specific directives regarding cooperative relations with permanent observers, international financial institutions, and other states that are not members of the Organization.

 The new focus of integral development and the determination of the membership to alleviate poverty within the region have intensified the extent and range of functional linkages and coordination between the Organization and governmental, intergovernmental, nongovernmental, and other social actors. To this end beginning in the early nineties, the Organization embarked on a review of its existing cooperative agreements and an evaluation and pursuit of other agreements in the furtherance of wider hemispheric outreach.

The review and evaluation by the Organization of its existing bilateral agreements, and the potential for other agreements, have resulted in the redesign and structuring of a number of agreements with several international and regional organizations. For the most part these agreements have the general objective of promoting cooperation between the OAS General Secretariat and counterpart institutions and have standard provisions regarding such matters as joint periodic consultation, exchange of information and reciprocal participation in the meetings of each institution. In a number of agreements, potential areas for cooperation in complementary joint activities, research analysis, and program execution have been established. At the present time the General Secretariat has existing bilateral agreements with the United Nations Secretariat, the CARICOM Secretariat, the General Secretariat of the Central American Integration System (SICA), the Economic Commission for Latin American and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Latin American Integration Association (ALADI), the Secretariat of the Latin American Economic System (SELA), the Association of Caribbean States (ACS), the Andean Parliament, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA), Tropical Agriculture Research and Higher Education Center (CATIE), and the Caribbean Development Bank (CDB). On the basis of these bilateral arrangements the General Secretariat has begun to explore the value of inter-secretariat relations involving a number of secretariats in the joint sponsoring and financing of selected programs of common interest.

As catalyst and facilitator of regional cooperation the General Secretariat must further expand these arrangements to include institutional linkages with the permanent observer member states, and wider social agents in the spirit and functional implementation of its partnership for development. This is an essential function if the Organization is to maintain and advance an effective directional role within the Hemisphere.

The role of catalyst and facilitator, which was ascribed to the Organization by the Protocol of Managua (1993)and at the Special Assembly Session in Mexico, in 1994, is neither new nor original. It finds general expression in the historic underlying actions and activities of the Organization through its organs and agencies and the instruments it has spawned from its earliest establishment, and continues to spawn in the new environment. Its cumulative impact has brought about the institutionalization of four reforms of the Organization’s Charter: The Protocol of Buenos Aires, (1967); The Protocol of Cartagena de las Indias, (1985); the Protocol of Washington, (1992) and the Protocol of Managua, (1993). These reforms were neither intellectual nor experimental; they derived from an inevitable engagement of progressive forces within and without the region. They therefore manifest strengths rather than weaknesses in the institutional process. From this perspective three cognate principles might be deduced from these reforms:

1. That the Charter of the Organization is not immutable;

2. That it can be structurally responsive to cogent regional interests; and

3. That, like the people it has been designed to serve, it is in a continuing process of growth and refinement.

It is from that resilience and flexibility, together with the collective responsibility of its membership, that the Organization finds its greatest strength. It is from this perspective that the relevance and value of its Charter adjustments, changes, and transformation must be ultimately evaluated. When judged from this viewpoint, the Protocol of Managua, (1993) and the Declaration of the Special General Assembly of Mexico, (1994) must therefore be seen, not in terms of their originality, but in their timely focus of that ascriptive role of the Organization as it deepened its engagement with the region in the dialectics of its Charter commitment.