Rule of law essential to development, OAS members told

By Evelyn Rupert

June 26, 2017

Leaders from the 35 countries in the Western Hemisphere were told that strengthening human rights, democracy and the rule of law are essential to promoting development.

During the 47th annual Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly, held in Cancun, Mexico, El Salvador Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez called on member states to strengthen the intertwined ideas of human rights, democracy and rule of law. He spoke on a panel session June 21.

El Salvador Foreign Minister Hugo Martinez speaks during the OAS General Assembly. Photos courtesy of OAS.

“I think the first thing that we should think when we talk about these three components – democracy, human rights, the rule of law – is of an equilateral triangle, where each of the three components is extremely important for our societies,” Martinez said during the panel discussion.

Continued development, added Honduran Ambassador to Mexico Alden Rivera Montes, must be built on a strong institutional foundation.

“Rule of law, human rights and democracy are ideas that form in effect a triangle that makes up the base, the fundamentals, for social and economic development in our nations,” Rivera said. “It is impossible to attempt to reach new levels of economic development if we don’t manage to succeed in these three themes.”

Genevieve Libonati, Acting Deputy Chief of Mission to OAS for the United States, said rule of law, democracy and human rights are also the building blocks of improved security and economic growth.

“This triangle is embedded in a larger triangle of democracy, security and economic prosperity,” she said. “Lasting prosperity and collective security require effective democratic institutions that deliver results for their people, provide economic and social opportunity, and safeguard citizen security.”

Rule of law & human rights are critical to development

Jenny Murphy, Senior Rule of Law Advisor at Creative.

In several OAS-member nations, Creative Associates International is on the ground supporting programs that help governments from the local to national level better respond to persistent problems such as gang-related crime and violence and lack of education and work opportunities.

Reflecting on the OAS panel discussion, Jenny Murphy, Creative’s Rule of Law Senior Advisor, says such projects are imbedded with tools to promote rule of law development, especially through juvenile justice reform.

“Democracy promotion cannot succeed in Central America without respect for rule of law and human rights by state institutions,” she says. “Creative is committed to continuing to support rule of law development, particularly institutional and capacity building of justice sector institutions.”

In Honduras, El Salvador and the Caribbean, Creative is implementing crime and violence prevention projects, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development. In addition to providing family counseling and education, employment and recreation opportunities for youth, the projects are aimed at strengthening countries’ and municipalities’ capacity to reduce violence.

And in Nicaragua, a USAID-funded project is creating economic opportunities for youth on the Caribbean Coast by connecting young people with technical education and strengthening the area’s vocational training institutions and their ties to the private sector.

From June 19 to 21, delegations from the 35 OAS member states, as well as representatives from civil society, social groups and business leaders, discussed those and other pressing issues for their nations – including the upheaval in Venezuela, opportunities for women’s leadership, indigenous rights, development, prosperity, security, and collaboration in the region.

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