Venezuela to Host OAS Meeting on Social Charter

Venezuela will host an Organization of American States ministerial meeting next week, where OAS ministers will discuss a draft proposal for a Social Charter of the Americas, which is to complement the existing Democratic Charter.

Caracas, Venezuela, August 26, 2005 —Venezuela is preparing for a meeting of ministers from countries of the Organization of American States (OAS), who are coming to Venezuela to discuss the Social Charter of the Americas. The Social Charter that Venezuela is proposing is a document with 129 articles that address social human rights relating to health, work, education, social protection, basic services, citizen participation, healthy environment, and rights of indigenous peoples. The Social Charter is meant to complement the existing OAS Democratic Charter, which guarantees political rights.

The ministerial meeting, for which 30 out of 34 country representatives have confirmed their attendance, will take place in Caracas August 28 to 29, said Venezuela’s Minister of Education and Sports, Aristobulo Isturiz during a press conference yesterday.

Isturiz explained that the proposed charter has five sections, which are titled, “Fundamental Social Rights,” “Community Rights,” “Economic Rights,” “Cultural Rights,” and “Rights of Indigenous Peoples.” Isturiz said that another section will be proposed, which deals with the rights of Afro-descendant peoples in the Americas.

According to Isturiz, “The idea is to balance the democratic vision, exalting social, cultural, and economic rights, just as the political and civil rights that have until now been the only ones taken into consideration in the Inter-American Democratic Charter.”

“We believe that the OAS should have a social document; this is what brought Venezuela to propose to the OAS the necessity of giving it a social document that would accompany Inter-American Democratic Charter in the political terrain,” said Isturiz

The Democratic Charter, which the OAS adopted in September 2001, specifies basic democratic rights that member countries should adopt, as well as sanctions against countries that fail to follow these democratic norms.

Venezuela proposed a Social Charter to the OAS and the OAS agreed to establish a commission to work on such a charter. This Social Charter commission will meet for the first time on September 1st, for which Venezuela is developing a draft proposal.

“Prior to the installation of this commission, we would like to hold a dialogue with our counter-parts in the continent; to open a dialogue, a conversation to place on the table a working paper that could be a proposal for the Social Charter,” added Isturiz.

Venezuela first proposed a Social Charter for the OAS at the 2001 Summit of the Americas, held in Quebec, Canada. The draft Social Charter Venzuela is proposing has been discussed with a wide variety of groups within Venezuela for the past year.

According to Jorge Valero, Venezuela’s Ambassador to the OAS, “The debate for the adoption of the Democratic Charter was a closed debate, elitist. We want that the debate about the Social Charter of the Americas is grassroots, that all life factors of the nations participate in the creation of this social instrument of the OAS.”

Valero said that the official OAS working group should complete its work by June 2006, for an OAS General Assembly meeting, which is scheduled to take place in the Dominican Republic.

Draft of the Social Charter in English: (requires Adobe Acrobat Reader)