Mr. Secretary General, Mr. Chairman of the Permanent Council, Mr. Assistant Secretary General, Distinguished Ambassadors and Representatives of Missions to the OAS, Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is my pleasant duty today to present to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States the Instruments of the Ratification of the Protocol of Washington, the Protocol of Managua, and the Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence Against Women, (the Convention of Belem do Para)..
It is significant that these Protocols, in one way or the other, have influential bearing on the development and propagation of democracy, human rights and economic and social development in the nations of this hemisphere. They are also pivotal in the positive restructuring of our hemispheric organization -- a restructuring which is aimed at bringing more benefits to all our peoples.
It is interesting to note that the ratification of these Protocols was delayed because of the Guyana Government's intention of ensuring total transparency in its public actions. In reality, their ratification could have been implemented just by an executive order, but the Government felt that they should first be brought before our Parliament for frank and full discussion, which eventually occurred. This is indicative of the new democratic norms in Guyana.
We in Guyana place special consideration on the development of democracy and the maintenance of human rights. This emphasis is necessitated by our experience of struggle and our people's eventual victory in winning back democracy in 1992 after it was seized from us for a quarter of a century. Since then, we have been subscribing to all international protocols on human rights; and individuals and groups are free to bring any case of human rights infringement, including discrimination on account of ethnicity, religion, political beliefs and gender to the attention of human rights bodies of international organizations.
With respect to the Convention of Belem do Para, we want to stress, in particular, that we see violence against women as not only criminal, but also a serious violation of human rights which must be fought with a well-organized form of public education with especially the use of the media. There must also be the application of strict laws and heavier sanctions against those who violate these rights and perpetuate this scourge in our societies.
The Treaty of Managua, already ratified by a majority of member states, has created the Inter-American Council for Integrated Development (CIDI). We fully support this new body which will ensure transparency, efficiency, and better accountability in the process of reorganization and the provision of technical cooperation to our various countries. There are a number of projects in Guyana which are receiving OAS attention, and their implementation under CIDI will assist us in moving towards the integrated development of various sectors of our economy.
As it is well known, in our hemisphere, the debt burden has seriously impacted on the social and economic development of countries in this hemisphere. Serious efforts must be made all concerned to implement the Action Plan of the Summit of the Americas which calls for the setting up of a group of experts to re-examine the debt question and work out fresh ideas to bring about a solution of this problem. There is a lot of foot-dragging on this issue. But the debt burden continues to stifle us. We need more debt cancellations while, at the same time, funds, without attached strings, must be made available to the weaker economies to hasten their development. Guyana, with the total support of CARICOM, has consistently called for the establishment of a Regional Development Fund to aid in this development drive.
Today, in delivering the instruments of ratification of these major Protocols and Convention, Guyana is expressing its confidence in the developmental role that the OAS can and will have to play in the social, economic and political advancement of our societies. At the same time, we wish to again reiterate our willingness to work in close cooperation with the Organization and its various organs for the mutual benefit of all the countries of the hemisphere.
February 28, 1996