U.S. Senators Robert Menendez (D-NJ), Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), and Ranking Member Richard Lugar (R-IN) passed legislation out of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee today to strengthen the Organization of American States (OAS). The "Organization of American States Revitalization and Reform Act of 2010" (S.3087) would help refocus the OAS on key mission areas through reform and greater transparency in budgeting, accounting, and hiring.
"Our hemisphere, with few exceptions, is unified in its commitment to democracy, human rights, freedom, fairness, transparency, and justice," said Menendez. "But there is more work to do. All member States of the OAS would benefit from an effective and relevant multilateral forum in which to resolve disputes and build consensus around issues of mutual interest."
"The OAS is invaluable to cooperation on security, democracy, the environment, and other critical issues throughout our hemisphere," said Kerry. "To fulfill its mission in the 21st century, the OAS needs reform and modernization, and our legislation clearly moves it in that direction."
"This legislation provides bipartisan encouragement and support for the OAS to get its fiscal house in order," Lugar said. "The OAS overspent its income by 9.6 million dollars. The majority of member-states have said that they are not about to step forward and plug this budget hole with the 12 percent increase in contributions that would be required."
The Menendez-Kerry-Lugar bill, works to focus the mission of the institution towards its natural areas of strength, adopt and implement improved accounting standards, put in place results-based budgeting processes, and adhere to transparent and merit-based human resource policies. It also seeks to help agencies within the U.S. Government to better use the OAS as a forum to collaborate on areas of mutual interest like energy, citizen security, economic development, and trade. The core of the OAS programs consolidate democracy, monitor elections, and improve public security.