Dr. Leonel Fernández Gives Lecture on Democracy and Human Rights During the 57th Lecture of the Americas at the OAS

November 13, 2014

Former President of the Dominican Republic and President of Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) and its sister institution in the Dominican Republic, Fundación Global Desarrollo y Democracia (Funglode, by its Spanish initials), Dr. Leonel Fernández, was the keynote speaker at the 57th Lecture of theAmericas at the Organization of American States (OAS). The conference, which was held on Thursday, November 13, 2014under the title "The OAS, Democracy
and Human Rights", took place at the Hall of the Americas, at the headquarters of the OAS in Washington, DC.

Secretary for External Relations of the OAS, Ambassador Alfonso Quiñonez, offered the welcoming remarks for the event, greeted the members of the OAS and the public, and highlighted the commitment that Dr. Fernández has always showntowards the development of democracy and human rights, in his personal and public character.

Dr. Fernández started his
lecture declaring that "when asked to intervene as a keynote speaker at the 57th Series of the Americas of the OAS, in an act of daring or boldness, he ventured to talk about the OAS itself.” With this in mind, Dr. Fernández started his speech by "reflecting on the splendors and despairs of the institution, which within less than five years will be 70 years of foundation."

The President of GFDD/Funglode offered a historical account of
the achievements of the OAS since its inception, noting that "the body of observers has served as guarantor of the transparency of the elections, in countries that were dominated for decades by authoritarian regimes, and lacked therefore of democratic tradition and culture.”

He stressed that "we should also remember the contributions that this institution has accomplished in the prevention and resolution of conflicts among Member States; in the
maintenance of peace and security; in the creation of a permanent forum for political dialogue; in the fight against illicit drug trafficking and organized crime; in the protection of human rights; in the collective defense of democracy; and promoting the rule of law.”

Dr. Fernández took the opportunity to recognize and especially congratulate the Secretary General of the OAS, Dr. José Miguel Insulza, present at the conference, for "his commendable work
emphasizing that "due to his remarkable intellectual conditions, his strong personality and his sense of balance, he has successfully navigated with great wisdom through otherdifficulties, leading this institution to survive various cross conflicts and difficulties.” The President of GFDD/Funglode shared with the public "some critical ideas about the future of the OAS within the framework of democracy and human rights, its current challenges, as well as its need
to be reformed and adapted to new global realities, especially those in Latin America and the Caribbean.”

During his presentation on the subject of human rights Dr. Fernández noted that "the Inter-American System of HumanRights has had important successes, one being the creation of a mechanism for safeguarding the rights of citizens, which untilthen were vulnerable to the excesses of the States.” However, he emphasized that today’s
reality suggests the persistence of major challenges that need to be approached.

With that as preamble, the former President explained the Dominican case before this body, noting that "our country, theDominican Republic, has been placed in recent weeks at the center of a debate about human rights, motivated by a recent judgment of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In other words, the Court orders the Dominican Republic to reformits Constitution and laws,
for the purpose of granting Dominican nationality to persons born in our country, regardless of immigration status of their parents.” Dr. Fernández reiterated the country’s commitment to protecting human rights while respecting its sovereignty and institutional and legislative mandates. He stressed that "the imposition of terms by theCommission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, which go beyond the given by the same states mandate, willonly cause a
lack of legitimacy, credibility and trust of its institutions, the failure of their decisions and eventual resignationof governments to submit to their respective powers.”

Dr. Fernández concluded his speech noting that "with the experience, the talent available and the necessary political will, the OAS will achieve and overcome all vicissitudes, being triumphant in all difficulties, writing new chapters of glory that will make the dream of the
Liberator, Simón Bolívar come true: to have a united region working together to shape a future full of hope and dignity for our people.”

The Lecture was attended by the distinguished members of the organization, ambassadors and representatives of diplomatic missions of several countries of the region including the Permanent Representative of the Dominican Republic to the OAS, Ambassador Pedro Vergés Ciman, and Natasha Despotovic, Executive Director of the Global
Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD).

The closing address was delivered by Ambassador Vergés, who invited the public to participate in the question and answersession with former President of the Dominican Republic.

The Lecture Series of the Americas was created by a resolution of the OAS Permanente Council on September 29, 2004 as an effort to promote democratic values and principles in the countries of the Hemisphere. The monthly lectures
given by world renowned speakers focus on central themes of the hemispheric agenda, such as democracy strengthening, human rights, hemispheric security, and social development, among others. The series aims to extend lecture dialogues to millions of people by broadcasting presentations to OAS Member States via the Internet, radio, or television.

GFDD is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization dedicated to the advancement of global collaboration and exchange relevant to
Dominican professionals, general audiences and institutions in the homeland and abroad. The Foundation conducts research, enhances public understanding, designs public policies, devises strategies, and offers capacity building in areas crucial to social, economic, democratic and cultural sustainable development.

To read the complete speech of President Fernández (in Spanish) click here.

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