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Remarks by Ambassador Noriega at OAS Ceremony

Ambassador Roger Noriega
U.S. Permanent Representative to the OAS

Assuming the Chair of the OAS Permanent Council

Washington, D.C.
July 1, 2002

I look forward to a period of consolidation of the fine work carried out by my predecessors, Ambassador Lestrade, Peña Herrera and Escobar who in the midst of very difficult tenures took the time to review the workings of the Permanent Council to propose changes to the way we do business.

I intend to follow through with the consideration of the proposal that Ambassador Escobar recently tabled with the modifications resulting from the consultations with the different regional groups and individual ambassadors who have already made suggestions.

I also believe that, while our memory is still fresh, we should review the process of preparing for the General Assembly and develop a realistic calendar to eliminate the last-minute rush that, in some cases, prevents us from addressing major issues in depth due to the press of time.

Taking advantage of the recent successes of the OAS such as the Inter-American Convention Against Terrorism and others, I would like to work with the Secretary General to conduct some briefings for the U.S. Congress and for other influential policy groups to emphasize the work of the "new OAS".

It is important to note that Democracy does not go on vacation.  I am assuming office at a moment of truth on Haiti -- at the moment that the Report of the Independent Commission of Inquiry is being issued. In accordance with PC Resolution 806 of January 15, it is now essential that the Government of Haiti move decisively to end impunity and establish the rule of law and that both sides agree to fair elections and to finish the initial political accord in the days ahead.

As chair of the Permanent Council, I will give full support to Assistant Secretary General Einaudi’s diplomatic efforts in Haiti.

The Council itself has been given a substantial amount of work to do in the implementation of General Assembly mandates. It is important to constitute the Committees and distribute the mandates as soon as possible. I intend to begin consultations with the regional coordinators on this matter in the next few days.

It will be difficult to follow in the footsteps of the Ambassadors who preceded me. But with the help of all of you, especially the outgoing chair of the Permanent Council, Ambassador Escobar, who now becomes my vice-chair, I will do my best.

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July 08, 2002


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