Inaugural Remarks by H.E. Ambassador Henry L. Illes,
Chairman of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American
July 12, 2006
Mr. Secretary General, H.E. Jose Miguel Insulza,
Mr. Assistant Secretary General, H.E. Ambassador Albert Ramdin,
Colleagues, Permanent Representatives,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. The principle I would like to adhere to in my
inaugural address today is the so-called “KISS Principle”.
KISS stands for KEEP It SHORT AND SIMPLE. I shall endeavor to
adhere to this principle throughout my tenure. I would also like
to encourage my colleagues to follow the same principle as we
work together to carry out our service to the people of the Americas
in an effective and efficient manner.
2. Delivering a speech in this House of the Americas is like delivering
a speech for members of an extended family. The famous writer
Leo Tolstoy once said that: “happy families are all alike,
but every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way." The
same might be said about the different member states present in
3. While all member states struggle with a range of issues such
as corruption, transnational organized crime, terrorism, gang
violence, illegal drug trafficking and HIV AIDS, we are aware
that member states differ significantly in their capacity to respond
to these issues systematically and effectively.
4. The Organization of American States is an amazing institution
which fulfills an important need in bringing together the richest
and the poorest states in the Western Hemisphere to negotiate
solutions and craft plans of action to confront major challenges
and arrive at workable solutions.
6. Our Charter clearly stipulates in paragraph 29 that: “The
Member States, inspired by the principles of the Inter-American
solidarity and cooperation, pledge themselves to a united effort
to ensure social justice in the Hemisphere and balanced economic
development for their peoples, as conditions essential to peace
7. This means that development cooperation should always be a
prime priority of this organization. This is a difficult mission
-- but it is not an impossible mission.
8. It is for mainly this reason that I will carry on in the footsteps
of my three magnificent CARICOM predecessors -- Ambassadors Williams,
Johnny and John -- to promote, emphasize and, where possible,
expand the development agenda of this Organization.
9. In my first address to this Organization, in this very room
almost 5 years ago, I made some remarks that I feel compelled
to repeat today.
10. I quoted the late Jamaican Reggae star Bob Marley who in one
of his songs stated: “A Hungry Man is an Angry Man”.
I stressed that the need to eliminate hunger must remain a principal
11. I also expressed nearly 5 years ago that “we all have
a duty not to allow those who will come after us to question or
to doubt our courage to address and tackle the critical issue
of extreme poverty”.
12. Moving beyond idealism, it is clear that individuals and societies
cannot fully enjoy democracy while facing very real threats to
13. As of today, I will be at the steering wheel of this Organization
for the next three months. I am confident that by strictly devoting
ourselves to our responsibilities, we will continue to streamline
the work of this body to function efficiently and effectively
in addressing the needs of all the member states, and especially
the developing needs of the least fortunate among us.
15. I look forward with optimism to working with you on the various
issues which will be brought to the attention of this Council
during my stint.
Thank you very much.