Senator Richard Lugar

Help Wanted at the Organization of American States

March 2, 2010

by Liz Harper

You’d never know it, but there’s a pretty big election coming up later this month at the Organization for American States (OAS). On Wednesday, March 3, representatives from the member states of the OAS (35 in total minus Cuba and Honduras) meet in a special session to formally introduce candidates to become the tenth secretary general.

The mission of the OAS, founded more than 60 years ago, is to promote and strengthen representative democracy, development and security, to act as the forum for governments in the hemisphere and to ensure peaceful settlement of disputes.

That’s a pretty tall order.

The current secretary general, José Miguel Insulza, wants to serve for another five-year term and recently said confidently that he would be confirmed on March 24. He needs to get at least 17 votes.

For the last year or so, current and former government officials have been murmuring that Insulza failed to lead the OAS and fulfill its mission. Instead, Insulza sat passively by as the executive powers in Venezuela, Honduras, Nicaragua, Bolivia, and Ecuador gradually whittled away at the authority of the legislative and judicial branches. This weakening of democracies undermined the credibility and value of the OAS.

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Tags: Jose Miguel Insulza, Hillary Clinton, Inter-American Democratic Charter, UNASUR, Organization for American States, Senator Richard Lugar