Kevin K. Sullivan, Interim Permanent Representative of the United States to the Organization of American States (OAS), delivered inaugural remarks at a meeting of the Permanent Council, July 13, 2016.
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Council, Permanent Observers, Mr. Secretary General, Mr. Assistant Secretary General, OAS staff, and friends:
I would like to briefly take the floor to introduce myself. I am Kevin Sullivan, and I am honored to come before you today as the new Interim Permanent Representative of the United States.
First, as someone who has spent much of his career in the Americas, I believe strongly in the value of the Organization of American States and the ideals it represents, promotes and, when necessary, defends.
Although I am new to the Permanent Council, I have had the privilege of collaborating with the OAS on issues related to the Summits of the Americas process previously, and have served in a number of countries in the region, most recently as Deputy Chief of the US Mission in Buenos Aires. I hope this prior experience will assist me in working effectively with all of you to uphold this Organization’s core commitments under the OAS Charter and the Inter-American Democratic Charter: to promote and preserve democracy, protect human rights, bolster multidimensional security and promote integral development in the Americas.
Mr. Chairman, actions we have taken in recent days have raised the profile of the OAS on the world stage. Many are looking to the OAS to find solutions to our region’s most difficult and pressing political challenges. At the same time, many are also questioning the organization’s financial viability, administration and priorities.
I believe we must redouble efforts to reform and modernize our operations and strengthen our ability to address 21st century challenges affecting the Americas. There is no question that we must continue to scrutinize and remedy the shortcomings of our institution, starting with its limited budget.
Surmounting these challenges will require leadership and political will on the part of the General Secretariat – and on the part of each and every government, including my own. To that end, please be assured that you can count on my government’s continued commitment.
Mr. Chair, colleagues: as many of you know, I have inherited a supremely talented and knowledgeable staff at the U.S. Mission from my esteemed predecessor, Mike Fitzpatrick. He has also left me some big shoes to fill.
I look forward to working together with all of you as equal partners to restore the financial and institutional strength of this noble and essential Organization as it refocuses on its core mandates to strengthen democracy, promote and defend human rights, advance sustainable development, and enhance cooperation on hemispheric security and public safety.
The OAS offers unique advantages to us in addressing these challenges and opportunities collectively. That’s why we’re all here around this table. That’s why this Organization exists. And that’s why I am honored to be seated here with you today.
Thank you, Mr. Chair.