Ambassador Carmen Lomellin, U.S. Permanent Representative to the Organization of American States (OAS), previews this year's OAS General Assembly, held in Lima, Peru June 6-8, 2010.QUESTION: Tell us about the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS).
AMBASSADOR LOMELLIN: The OAS General Assembly, Organization of American States, meets annually in June. It's a meeting of the foreign ministers and other high level dignitaries, where they discuss pertinent issues in the hemisphere and also give the mandates to the organization for the coming year. This year it will be held in Lima, Peru, June 6th-8th. The U.S. delegation will be headed up by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.
QUESTION: What is the theme of this year's General Assembly?
AMBASSADOR LOMELLIN: The theme of this year's assembly is “Peace, Security, and Cooperation in the Americas.” A theme that is really very important to the interests of United States and of course to the entire region.
QUESTION: What are some of the initiatives that the U.S. supports that relate to the theme?
AMBASSADOR LOMELLIN: Some of the initiatives that are supported by the United States were articulated by President Obama at the 5th Summit of the Americas, which was held in Trinidad and Tobago. There he highlighted the importance of working together with everyone, extending a hand to everyone, to make sure that we can attain peace and lives free from violence for all of our citizens in the Western Hemisphere.
QUESTION: What do you see as priorities at the OAS moving forward?
AMBASSADOR LOMELLIN: There are numerous priorities, political and also institutional. On the institutional level, the priorities are very clearly defined. The Organization of American States, General Secretariat, has to prioritize, has to do an exhaustive review of the mandates that it has have received and make sure that they are keeping with the mandates given to the organization through the charter of the organization and through the Inter-American Democratic Charter. They also have to do a major review of the budget and how money is being spent. Everyone, all international organizations are going through some very difficult periods right now. Monies and contributions are really being diminished. So we have to figure out, we as member states have to figure out: what are the priorities, what is the value added for whatever it is that the OAS is going to do with it, go in that direction. We cannot do everything for everyone, we cannot fulfill every single mandate. So it's going to be a very difficult exercise in prioritizing, because every mandate has a member state that supports it. So there will be a lot of negotiation, but it's something that is very important. On the political side, it's a little more complicated. Again, it's a review of how we do business. What are the issues of importance to the hemisphere? Like this yea's theme, it's Peace, Security, and Cooperation. It's creating an environment in all of our member states where all of our citizens can live lives free of violence. Within that chapeau you have the drug trafficking, the trafficking in persons, you have all these issues that affect people's daily lives. And also of major importance is democracy. The organization approved, nine years ago in Lima, the Inter-American Democratic Charter, which has become a guiding light for the organization. So democracy is, will continue to be, and should be a priority for this organization.
QUESTION: How can people find more information?
AMBASSADOR LOMELLIN: People can find out more information by going to www.oas.org, and click on the link for general assembly and they should be able to see the proceedings, especially the plenary sessions, which are the major discussions, that will be held at the General Assembly. They are also webcast in English and in Spanish.
Read more about priorities in the Americas on www.state.gov.