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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

V. Programs of the General Secretariat on Public Information and External Relations

i. The Department of Public Information

The dissemination of informationon the programs and initiatives of the Organization to the general public, the press, and those interested in the Organization’s activities remains the primary responsibility of the Department of Public Information. The Department which was entirely restructured in July 1997, contains three service areas: The Office of the Director; Press; and Radio and Television.

The Department has kept pace with the innovations of the  high-tech information revolution. It maintains the organization’s home-page on the Internet, and the latest informative bulletins, conventions, resolutions, and reports of the political bodies are now available to the general public through the Internet.

An important activity of the Office is sponsorship and coordination of Model General Assemblies in the member states. This has been a useful vehicle for educating the youth of the Hemisphere on the merits of multilateral diplomacy and the key issues confronting the Americas in a rapidly changing international landscape.

ii. The Office of External Relations

The Secretary General established the Office of External Relations in July 1997 to serve as the principal entity within the General Secretariat for advising the Secretary General, the Assistant Secretary General, the Executive Secretariat of CIDI, and the governing bodies of the Organization, on all matters pertaining to external relations.

The Office of External Relations is designed to: Promote and maintain relations with the host government, nongovernmental agencies, academia, the private sector, and relevant non profit agencies; to generate active support for the Organization, its goals and its activities; and to provide technical advice to the Office of the Assistant Secretary General in matters relating to relations with the institutions of the inter-American system and multilateral organizations.

An important aspect of the outreach of the office is in the public relations interaction of the Organization and particularly in the area of a sustained and well-directed publications program. The selected use of the limited resources of the Organization has caused this area to be neglected and under served over the years. An effective publication program is an indispensable requisite to the functional outreach of the Organization. This has been explicitly acknowledged in a new effort to restructure and revitalize the organization’s publications program thrust. In this new effort, the Office of External Relations is technically and functionally involved.

Another important area of the Office’s activities is the cementing of institutional linkages with the Permanent Observer States. The Organization now has forty-three permanent observer members and the European Economic Union. The objectives of its charter, the interests of the observer states, the potential for their interaction with the membership, the value of their inter-global experiences, the extent and volume of their human resource capability and capacity create an imperative for functional institutional linkages consonant with the goals of the Organization’s Charter. In this regard, the recent establishment of the Office of External Relations within the Secretariat provides a new and significant dimension of the Secretariat’s and the Organization’s outreach.

As the Organization approaches the new millennium, the structure of the General Secretariat will be complemented by an increasing network of functional relationships, and interaction with academia, the private sector, governments, nongovernmental organizations, and civil society. There will also be need to address a number of outstanding questions to which reference was earlier made and certain evolving regional situations.


1. The Special Session was agreed upon but not held.