I also would like to welcome to the Ambassador of Chile, who is no stranger to us, and to pledge the full cooperation of my delegation to his work here at the Organization of American States.
Today, I want to make very brief remarks. I really want to express appreciation, first of all, to the Assistant Secretary General and his staff for the support I received as Chair of the Permanent Council.
Two chiefs of staff to the Assistant Secretary General worked with me during my tenure. First, there was Alfonso Quiñónez, and then Sherry Tross was Acting Chief of Staff after Alfonso left the post of Chief of Staff. I feel that I should mention to you, Mr. Assistant Secretary General, that we are not in Hollywood, so we might need to make some changes soon. Both Alfonso Quiñónez and Sherry Tross responded willingly and very quickly to every demand that I made as the Chairman of the Permanent Council, and they made my work a lot easier as a result.
I must express appreciation to Molly Hurley, the Chair’s Secretary, and to Marcial Huaman, the driver, for their dedication to ensuring that my work here was easy.
To the committee secretaries, thanks for preparing me so well for each and every meeting.
Colleague ambassadors and alternates, your cooperation made my job much easier. We were able to start most meetings on time, and I am very proud about that. I was so pleased to see that Ambassador Illes is continuing that tradition, and we started today’s meeting only 10 minutes late.
I had a very ambitious agenda coming in to the position as Chair of the Permanent Council, and I was not able to achieve most of my agenda. I realize now that in the months preceding the General Assembly session, the only truly ambitious agenda that you can have is to try to ensure a good General Assembly session. I must express my congratulations and praise to the Delegation of the Dominican Republic for a very good General Assembly session. It made all of our jobs so much easier.
I wish Ambassador Illes all the best over the next three months, and I pledge my full support as your vice chair.
Thank you very much.
El PRESIDENTE: Thank you very much, Ambassador. You are going back to your chair, but as you stressed just now, you are my vice chair. I will keep it in mind.
INTERVENCIÓN DEL SECRETARIO GENERAL ADJUNTO
SOBRE EL TRIGÉSIMO SEXTO PERÍODO ORDINARIO DE SESIONES
DE LA ASAMBLEA GENERAL
El PRESIDENTE: The next item on the order of business is the intervention by Ambassador Albert Ramdin, Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States, on the thirty-sixth regular session of the General Assembly, which was held in the Dominican Republic last month. Ambassador Ramdin, you have the floor.
El SECRETARIO GENERAL ADJUNTO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Distinguished permanent representatives; distinguished permanent observers; alternate representatives:
Let me first of all thank you, Ambassador Illes, for giving me this opportunity, since this is the first time this Council is meeting since the holding of the thirty-sixth regular session of the General Assembly, which was held from June 4 to 6 in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. I wish to make a very brief presentation on the Assembly session.
On behalf of Secretary General Insulza, on my own behalf, and on behalf of all the staff of the General Secretariat, I would like to begin by expressing, through the Permanent Mission of the Dominican Republic, our sincere and deepest appreciation to the people and Government of the Dominican Republic for their warm hospitality throughout the just concluded General Assembly session.
A special thank you goes out to the coordinator in the Dominican Republic, Vice Minister José Manuel Trullols, for the excellent collaboration we had with him, and to the officials of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Dominican Republic for their support and professional guidance in the preparations for the General Assembly session and during the session.
The work of the thirty-sixth regular session was conducted in a spirit of consensus building. In this regard, I wish to commend the President of the General Assembly, His Excellency Foreign Minister Carlos Morales Troncoso, for his excellent leadership. Important issues were discussed, and we approved 99 resolutions and six declarations. I am pleased to inform delegations that the Style Committee has been hard at work over the last couple of weeks, and the Committee hopes to conclude its work by the end of this week.
I also would like to single out for our thanks the elected officers of the General Committee of the General Assembly: Ambassador Ellsworth John, Permanent Representative of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, and Ambassador Roberto Álvarez, Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic, for their very competent and effective work.
The General Committee considered 26 draft resolutions in one day and a half and did a remarkable job. Twenty-three of those draft resolutions were approved, and three were referred to the Permanent Council for further consideration. I would like to thank Ms. Elisa Ruiz, Alternate Representative of Paraguay and Rapporteur of the General Committee, for the excellent and detailed report that she submitted at the end of the session.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished representatives, although we all feel that the thirty-sixth regular session of the General Assembly went reasonably well, in my view, there is need to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the only annual meeting of ministers of foreign affairs in the Western Hemisphere and to transform this unique gathering into a more meaningful political encounter related to the challenges and opportunities faced by member states collectively and individually. In this regard, the General Secretariat will study its performance during the preparatory phase and during the General Assembly session itself, and it will make recommendations for improvements, for your consideration and subsequent approval.
Over the last few weeks, we have had informal consultations within the Secretariat, as well as with the regional groups, to receive feedback and listen to observations. I look forward to the engagement and support of the member states in this process of evaluating the last session and suggesting improvements for the next one. A report on these consultations and recommendations will be presented to the Permanent Council within the next few weeks.
I would like to thank the member states that have formally announced their commitment to host General Assembly sessions over the coming three years.
Specifically, let me thank the Government of the Republic of Panama for its kind offer to host next year’s regular session of the General Assembly. We look forward to being in Panama next year, and we have already started consultations with Ambassador Royo and his team on how to proceed. We will begin our preparations early this year so as to complete our work on time and ensure a much more effective General Assembly session next year.
I thank the Government of Colombia for its offer to host the 2008 regular session of the General Assembly on the sixtieth anniversary of the signing of the OAS Charter in Bogotá.
I also wish to thank the Government of Honduras for offering to host the General Assembly session in 2009.
These offers demonstrate to the Secretariat confidence and commitment by the member states and give us the opportunity to engage in long-term planning so as to produce an effective, efficient, substantive, and engaging General Assembly session.
Finally, Mr. Chairman, allow me to extend my appreciation and thanks on behalf of the General Secretariat to all the permanent representatives and their staff for their collaboration and guidance over the past months in preparation for the thirty-sixth regular session of the General Assembly.
Thank you very much.
El PRESIDENTE: Thank you very much, Assistant Secretary General. May I also take this opportunity, on behalf of the Council and on my own behalf, to thank the people and Government of the Dominican Republic for their hospitality during the General Assembly session.
The Representative of the Dominican Republic has the floor.
El REPRESENTANTE ALTERNO DE LA REPÚBLICA DOMINICANA: Muchas gracias, señor Presidente.
En primer lugar, en nombre de mi Delegación, quisiera felicitarlo por su designación como Presidente de este Consejo Permanente, a la vez que le deseamos muchos éxitos en el ejercicio de sus funciones. Felicitamos también al Embajador John por su excelente trabajo y le damos la bienvenida al Embajador de Chile.
Quisiera agradecer al señor Albert Ramdin, Secretario General Adjunto, por su valioso informe, así como a las diferentes delegaciones, especialmente al Embajador John y a usted, por sus amables palabras.
Tanto para el Presidente Leonel Fernández y el Canciller Carlos Morales Troncoso como para el pueblo dominicano fue un gran honor contar con su presencia en Santo Domingo. Consideramos que esta importante reunión fue muy fructífera y enriquecedora.
En Santo Domingo, nuestros Cancilleres aprobaron declaraciones y resoluciones que, sin lugar a dudas, contribuirán a fortalecer nuestra Organización y a mejorar las condiciones de vida de nuestros pueblos.
Muchas gracias, señor Presidente. Muchas gracias también a las diferentes misiones aquí presentes y a los Observadores Permanentes que participaron en la Asamblea de Santo Domingo.
El PRESIDENTE: Thank you very much, Alternate Representative of the Dominican Republic.
INFORME PRELIMINAR DE LA MISIÓN DE OBSERVACIÓN ELECTORAL DE LA OEA SOBRE LAS ELECCIONES GENERALES REALIZADAS EN EL PERÚ
EL 4 DE JUNIO DE 2006
El PRESIDENTE: The next item on our order of business is the preliminary report of the Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) of the Organization of American States on the general elections held in Peru on June 4, 2006. I give the floor to the Chief of the Mission, Dr. Lloyd Axworthy.
El JEFE DE LA MISIÓN DE OBSERVACIÓN ELECTORAL DE LA OEA EN EL PERÚ: Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman, and congratulations on your very important responsibilities.
During what has been called the year of elections in the Americas, June 4 certainly was a historic opportunity for the people of Peru to express, in quite overwhelming numbers, their democratic right and will to select a president in the second round of elections.
As the Chief of Mission, along with my colleague, Dr. Bielsa, it is my honor to present to you, in its preliminary form, the report of the Electoral Observation Mission (EOM) of the Organization of American States to Peru.
I want to begin by thanking Secretary General Insulza for asking me to lead this mission, the Government of Peru for agreeing to have me there, and the member states of the OAS for their support in the exercise of the duties of the Mission. Recent events continue to show that even in maturing democracies, there is a great value added to having a third-party, independent, and partial team of assessors in support of democratic development in the region. As everyone in this room properly recognizes, the OAS has a singular role to play, a role that must continue to be supported both politically and financially by member states so that the very important responsibilities of assisting and supporting democratic development can be continued.
As some of you may know, I was President of the thirtieth regular session of the General Assembly in 2000, and I had the privilege of leading the OAS Electoral Observation Mission to Peru to support the transition to democracy after there had been a serious disruption. Through that process, we were able to establish the Mesa de Diálogo, which enabled all the major stakeholders in Peruvian society to come together to draft an agenda for democratic reform. It was certainly a very important and meaningful experience to me, as Canada’s Foreign Minister at the time, and it was a pivotal moment, both for the OAS and for Peru itself. It inaugurated a major process of reform of the electoral system and led to the major discussion in Quebec City of a new democratic charter for the Americas.
For me, leading the Electoral Mission to Peru this past year was a way of closing the chapter that began in 2000 and of witnessing the determination of the Peruvians and the resilience of the OAS and the inter-American system to substantiate and reinforce their commitments to a democratic régime.
The Mission for the second round was established in the first days of May. By May 28, we had deployed 123 observers to every region of Peru. Recognizing that an election sometimes reveals systemic strengths and weaknesses, the Mission took a very broad view of its mandate in discussion with the Secretary General and focused not just on the specific issue of election observation and counting of votes, but the broader democratic agenda facing Peru before and after election day.
According to the report by my colleague, Dr. Rafael Bielsa, who took over the Mission on election day due to my previous commitment in Canada, the Mission was able to clearly determine that the election was transparent, credible, and legitimate. All parties accepted the outcome and the electoral authorities demonstrated their commitment to hold a well-organized electoral process.
In the opinion of the Mission, these elections contributed to legitimizing the electoral reforms implemented since 2000 and have created an opportunity to strengthen not only the electoral system, but a major new framework for the construction of a sound, inclusive political system.
I will now ask Dr. Rafael Bielsa to report on his observations on election day.
El ENVIADO DEL SECRETARIO GENERAL A CARGO DE LA MISIÓN DE OBSERVACIÓN ELECTORAL EN EL PERÚ DEL 2 AL 5 DE JUNIO DE 2006: Muchísimas gracias.
1/ …y las menciones que ha hecho mi colega Axworthy, a las autoridades de la OEA y a los miembros aquí presentes.
Como todos ustedes saben, quedé a cargo de la Misión entre los días 2 y 5 de junio de 2006. Solo haré algunas breves puntualizaciones en relación con el día de la elección y luego continuará mi distinguido colega en el uso de la palabra.
En primer lugar, creo que podemos afirmar que el día de la elección, el 4 de junio, constituyó un aterrizaje suave, salvo algunos incidentes aislados en la ciudad de Arequipa, luego de un vuelo relativamente turbulento, particularmente por lo que tiene que ver con las expresiones de ambos contendientes en los medios de comunicación.
En segundo lugar, el silencio electoral fue respetado. Hubo un pequeñísimo incidente en un desayuno ya tradicional en el Perú. Algún candidato hizo una alusión que tomada estrictamente según el código electoral no debería haber hecho, pero podemos decir que, en términos generales, el silencio electoral fue adecuadamente respetado.
Creo que fue muy razonable la información que se brindó a cada uno de los electores. Creo también que la presencia de los fiscalizadores de la Junta Nacional Electoral, de los coordinadores de la Oficina Nacional de Procesos Electorales, de los funcionarios de la Defensoría del Pueblo y de los funcionarios del Ministerio Público en todo el acto electoral fue suficiente.
Considero que la logística documental de recuperación y de archivo de datos fue la adecuada. Algunas mesas se abrieron más tarde de lo previsto, pero todo dentro de lo que es un proceso electoral normal, razonable.
La seguridad también fue adecuada. A este respecto lo único que cabría mencionar es que, como una legislación nueva permite al personal de seguridad emitir el voto, había una superposición entre las tareas propias de la seguridad del acto comicial y su propia posibilidad de votar. Es una pequeña cuestión que merecería ser corregida en adelante.
Las autoridades de mesa estaban adecuadamente capacitadas; no hay ningún señalamiento particular que hacer en ello. En el 98% de las mesas donde hubo observación por parte de la Misión, había personeros, había representantes de los partidos políticos que contendían. Luego del acto electoral no hubo reclamos de los contendientes que pudieran incidir en el resultado.
Es muy importante subrayar que a las nueve y media de la noche, a las veintiuna treinta, el 75% de los votos ya había sido escrutado, ya había sido contado y se informó a la población. Creo que esto dio una gran tranquilidad en una hora muy crítica de todo proceso electoral. El perdedor aceptó oportunamente su derrota y creo que, en general, ante situaciones potencialmente conflictivas, la respuesta de todas las autoridades peruanas involucradas en el evento electoral fue satisfactoria.
Solo quisiera hacer tres señalamientos finales, tres –no sé si llamarlas recomendaciones– apreciaciones de mi propia experiencia. Tengo que señalar el alto profesionalismo del grupo base de la Misión de la OEA. Este alto profesionalismo evitó que la subjetividad propia de quien está a cargo de una misión en la observación de un proceso electoral se transformara de subjetividad en arbitrariedad.
Sin embargo, en este sentido, creo que desarrollar más herramientas conceptuales que ayuden a sistematizar, a encontrar estándares objetivos que permitan a toda la Misión tener claramente focalizados cuáles son los elementos que permiten que un acto electoral sea considerado fair, que sea considerado aceptable, es un esfuerzo que vale la pena que la Organización piense en fortalecer.
La segunda observación tiene que ver con unas palabras que leí en un libro titulado Presidencialismo y parlamentarismo en América Latina, editado por César Arias y Beatriz Ramacciotti. La parte que voy a citar dice: “La participación voluntaria mediante expresiones institucionales como el voto, los partidos, el ejercicio de la oposición y los mecanismos de democracia directa, sigue cediendo ante la abstención, la desobediencia civil e incluso la violencia”.
Al respecto quiero decir que un estándar de todo proceso electoral democrático es que todos los ciudadanos –que todos los ciudadanos– estén efectivamente habilitados para expresar sus preferencias electorales.
Es mi experiencia que, en este sentido, el Perú puede hacer esfuerzos suplementarios para permitir que una gran cantidad de personas, que un número estimado en un millón de personas, en las próximas elecciones esté en condiciones de poder expresar sus preferencias electorales.
Finalmente, quisiera observar que otro estándar de una elección correcta es que las preferencias sean recibidas y efectivamente anotadas. En este sentido, mi experiencia es que hubo una especie de desfasaje en esta última elección en el Perú entre una legislación que está entre las más avanzadas del subcontinente y algunos subconjuntos prácticos que tienen que ver con las relaciones entre los organismos, pequeñas deficiencias de relación, pequeñas brechas entre la legislación y la práctica que pueden ser fácil y razonablemente subsanadas para el próximo episodio.
Esto es todo. Le devuelvo a mi distinguido colega Axworthy la palabra. The floor is yours. El JEFE DE LA MISIÓN DE OBSERVACIÓN ELECTORAL DE LA OEA EN EL PERÚ: Thank you much, Rafael.
Let me just pick up on some of those points.
You can all clearly see that there was a substantial improvement in the second round of elections over the first round. One of the reasons for that improvement goes back to the importance of the electoral observation missions (EOMs) of the Organization of American States. We were able to collaborate very closely with the election authorities in Peru and to make a number of recommendations that were picked up in the second round. These recommendations included more intensive training of polling officers; the development of a much clearer process, before the elections, for the dissemination of polling results so that they would not bias the outcome; and the improvement of security measures so as to provide greater protection at the polling stations to deter any interference or disruptions. As some of you might recall, in the first round certain events did cause a bit of a stir and resulted in a little bruise on my noggin, so I was particularly concerned that we apply good standards for security measures.
It was also important that the two candidates in the run-off election negotiated, signed, and respected an ethical pact in which they both promised to abide by clear rules of behavior. It’s a model worth looking at more carefully as a way of setting guidelines and standards for future elections.
One of the areas that Rafael mentioned is the need to close, in some ways, the distance between the law and its enforcement. One area that clearly needs to be looked at is the law enabling the military and police to have the vote for the first time in Peruvian history. This was seen by members of the armed forces and the security forces as a very important statement of their own involvement in the democratic process. It was a very significant step forward.
However, there were difficulties in its implementation because many of those forces were assigned to security duty at the polls. In the absence of mechanisms, such as an advance poll or a transferable ballot, several of those who were at work on election day were not able to exercise their franchise.
At the same time, I think that there was recognition that this first step now needs to be further developed. OAS officials and other member states can help to design a system that would enable the full participation of those very important members of society.
Another area of particular concern was the degree of difficulty faced by rural voters who had to travel long distances, often without transportation, and who often had to deal with questions of information and proper understanding of what the election was about. I would recommend that election officials begin to look at techniques that have been developed in other electoral systems, such as mobile polling stations and transferable ballots. The new Congress and President could take up a second phase of reform that would enable them to overcome that problem.
One of the most serious issues that emerged is the fact that some one million Peruvians don’t exist when it comes to elections. They simply aren’t registered. They don’t have birth certificates or other documents that give them an identity. What is more important in being a citizen than being recognized, and what more important way of being recognized than to have the vote?
There are efforts underway to try to assist the more than one million people who are outside the system, but the Peruvian officials and civil society organizations who are working on the problem will need more international support and cooperation. I have addressed this matter with the Secretary General, and it is worthy of the consideration of members of the Council because I don’t think this problem is unique to Peru. There are other societies in which large numbers of people, often of rural or indigenous backgrounds, simply do not have that legal right to participate in elections, and it is the most valuable right that can be transmitted. I feel strongly about this issue, and the university over which I preside has worked out a cooperative arrangement with the Catholic University in Lima to begin to look at how we can assist in solving this problem.
I would like to comment on what I thought was a very positive development coming out of the election process, and that is the emergence of new forms of civil society in Peru. We had some fascinating meetings just outside of Cuzco with the Federación de Campesinos, a group being affected by major changes in agriculture in rural areas. That group has developed a fascinating network of radio contacts in order to share information and deal with illiteracy. This phenomenon is a demonstration of a much stronger sense of participation by people who had been on the margins up to now.
I recommend that these civil society groups be brought more directly into the electoral process. They have the capacity to reach out to many who are disadvantaged because of their location or their background. This movement by a new form of civil society that focuses on the rights of indigenous people is a facet of this election that is now front and center in Peru’s agenda. Rafael spoke about inclusiveness; that is really what it means. There are people who are very anxious. It’s an important topic when it comes to democracy.