WYALA Staff, Milagros Antonietti and Christel Sonnekalb participated at the 41st General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS), which took place June 5th – 7th in the Central American city of San Salvador, El Salvador. The theme selected for this year’s Assembly was “Citizen Security in the Americas”, after a study from the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights done on 2009. This study declares that America is the most violent continent of the world, having one homicide every four minutes. Across the region during 2009, 133,837 homicides were recorded, which means 366 every day, 15 every hour and one every 4 minutes.
On Saturday, June 4th, previous to the inauguration, the Secretary General, Mr. José Miguel Insulza, met with representatives of the Civil Society. On the same day, the Civil Society discussed and selected nine subjects to be presented before a group of Heads of Delegations of all OAS Members-States. Some of them were Citizen Security, Childhood and Youth, Minority Rights, Judicial Independence, and Right of Persons with Disabilities. These proposals were presented on a meeting on Sunday 5th previous to the Inauguration Ceremony. Mauricio Funes, President of El Salvador, held the inauguration speech and declared the beginning of the OAS GA.
The Declaration of San Salvador underlines the need to continue strengthening bilateral, sub-regional, regional and international cooperation, according to the principles enshrined in the Charter of the OAS, in order to "face, prevent, and combat comprehensively and effectively transnational organized crime." With the intention to "continue its efforts to strengthen public security" on the continent, delegates assumed the compromise to develop a Hemispheric Plan of Action to be submitted in Bolivia 2012 during the next General Assembly.
World Youth Alliance was the only youth organization present among the Civil Society representatives and it achieved the inclusion of the importance of the family and the respect for human dignity in order to prevent crime in the proposals of the Civil Society to the Head of Delegations. WYALA observed with concern proposals of groups which did not address the problematic at hand, while other relevant matters, such as the relation between youth and crime, was rather overlooked. Youth in the Americas are often victims, but also due to the lack of opportunities and other issues, get involve with organized crime as drug dealers, gangsters, hitmans, and often do not offer a solution, but are part of the problem.
We call upon the OAS Member-States to defend the dignity of each and every one of its citizens, in particular of those most vulnerable to crime and seek real solutions to this problem that affects millions of people in our continent.