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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Thomas Pickering
Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs

Remarks to Second Plenary Session of the 30th OAS General Assembly
Windsor, Canada, June 5, 2000

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Mr. President, Señor Secretario General, distinguished Ministers:

I would like to begin by saying I hope to be responsibly brief, responsible to all of those who have been sitting so patiently and listening to a very high-level debate, and responsible to my government which takes a serious and significant interest in this very important work that is now before us. This indeed is in our view the most critical issue the Organization has faced this year. However, it is not the only important issue the Organization has dealt with this year. So, for that reason, I will try to be brief.

I would like to associate my delegation with the consensus that appears to be emerging on this resolution. I would like to congratulate all those who worked so hard to bring the draft resolution together. In particular, I would like to recognize the work of our host, Canada, on this initiative.

At a recent special session of the Permanent Council we heard reports from the distinguished former Foreign Minister of Guatemala, Mr. Eduardo Stein, about the profound systemic weaknesses in Peru which lead and led to the deficiencies in the electoral processes. Most critically, these included such problems as a concentration of power in the executive branch to the detriment of the judicial and electoral systems. And the result has been destabilizing and polarizing in Peru's electoral process with ramifications for the entire hemisphere. Now, all of us know and are concerned about the fact that there are no perfect democracies. All of us are indeed engaged in a strong course to perfect our own, and my country must include itself very much in that consensus, and we hope that in fact this organization which has devoted so much time and attention to democracy will also be there to lend a hand when any of us need help and assistance and support.

President Fujimori recently gave an important speech in which he publicly acknowledged the need to focus on strengthening democracy. That indeed is one of the central, focal pivots of the resolution before us. In fact, of course, we know he has stated in the past that this is a top priority. We welcomed his statement of just a week ago following the elections, and we stand prepared to respond and assist in that effort, but we have some sense of remorse and regret that unfortunately this same pledge has been made before -- as others recalled here this evening -- back in 1992 and subsequently, and the results have been less than promising.

President Fujimori in 1992 did commit himself to restoring authentic constitutional democracy to Peru. His promise, while not reflected in the conduct of the recently completed electoral process, nevertheless encourages us all to think that we do have a responsibility to help a friend, and that we are here with that idea and that focus very much in mind. The focus of our attention today must be on resolving this crisis of credibility in Peru. And we believe that this resolution of this particularly important body is the appropriate approach, and the mandate of providing two very distinguished representatives of this organization with the opportunity to assist Peru and to develop appropriate plans with the Government of Peru and the political opposition is something we all, we believe, should be behind and support.

The plan, we hope, will also specify not only actions, but time periods. And we hope that the work of the mission will help Peru fully meet its commitments to democracy. Our focus here, of course, is not only on the results of one particular election. We are faced with many more significant challenges of helping a member country strengthen its foundations, its institutions that make lively its commitment to democracy, particularly when they are under severe strain. And as others have pointed out, this goes to the heart of what our organization is all about. We are pledged to each other to offer our mutual support that we can all bring to strengthen democratic institutions all over the hemisphere -- and this indeed is an organization which in my belief is notable for its continued significant commitment to democracy -- and to support our member states who are having difficulties in dealing with their democratic future. This makes this organization in my view quite unique in the world of international and regional organizations. As a result, of course, we must prove ourselves capable of responding to the profound challenges that now face Peru, because of conviction and because of the need for decisiveness.

We support this resolution not only because it is dedicated to strengthening democratic institutions, but because it also addresses the very heart of the long-term problem of democracy in Peru, by strengthening the rule of law. The Electoral Observation Mission and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recently issued excellent reports comprehensively addressing the difficulties that have plagued the recent election in Peru. Now is the time to build on these findings, and to adopt a resolution that sends a high-level mission that will examine and address the underlying causes of the democracy problem in Peru. That's what this resolution aims to do. That's what it is all about. And that's why we will all do all that we can to support the consensus that I believe now exists in this body.

[end of document]

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