OAS Bids Farewell to Secretary General Insulza

On May 22, 2015, the OAS Permanent Council held a Special Session to bid farewell to OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza. State Department Counselor Thomas A. Shannon delivered remarks on behalf of the delegation of the United States.

Counselor Shannon’s Remarks 

May 22, 2015


Thank you very much Mr. Chairman, it is a tremendous honor to be here today and to be representing the United States of America. To the Secretary General, thank you sir. I bring you greetings from President Obama and Secretary Kerry and from the American people. It is my pleasure to offer you our respect, our admiration and our gratitude.

I would like to thank our acting permanent representative, Mr. Michael Fitzpatrick for this opportunity. This is not my usual place but I thought it appropriate to come here today to recognize your distinguished service over this past decade and to underscore the importance of what you have done and what the OAS has done over this past decade.

As my colleagues around this table have noted, you have faced many challenges and there have been many changes in our hemisphere.  They have highlighted your accomplishments; they have highlighted your strategic goals.  I associate myself and my government with all of them. Your job has been historic and important but I would like to underscore that you have managed this institution and helped guide it during a period of enormous ambition.

If one can say anything about the Americas, it is that we are a tireless region. We are a region of determination, persistence, and resilience. The great accomplishments of the past century, of consolidating democracy, of consolidating human rights, of building institutions of protecting democracy and human rights were not enough.

This is a hemisphere and a region and an organization that has been determined to take democracy and human rights and show that with democratic institutions you can build democratic societies and democratic states. That our job is not only to provide our citizens with a voice in determining national destiny but to allow our states, governments and institutions to provide the resources and the opportunities for each of our citizens to have control over his or her individual destiny.  This is a tremendous challenge, it is one that requires organization, commitment, and political activity but most importantly it is one that requires recognition that democracy has an economic and social content.

The OAS is the perfect organization to do this because through its juridical agreements, its treaties, its many resolutions, it has determined for many decades that democracy does have social, economic and I would say cultural content.  And we are at a point, in our history as a hemisphere, because of the work of the OAS and because of how it is connected to the work of the Summit of Americas, to create a hemisphere that is truly integrated and it is truly committed to our values of democracy and individual liberty but that understands at the end of the day our citizens want governments that are relevant to their concerns and challenges and want social justice.

I know sir because of your long history this is something that burns brightly in your heart and has always guided you in your political career.  I want to thank you for that, I want to underscore our great gratitude and respect for you and personally I would like to thank you for your friendship and cooperation over these many years and I wish you the very best as you return home to what will be a very fruitful life.