Report Organization of American States
Represented by Leonie Lorenz
Even though the Organization of American States (OAS) is not a body within the United Nations system, it was simulated at the 2007 National Model United Nations Conference among other Intergovernmental Organizations.
The Organization of American States was founded in 1948. It is the world’s oldest regional body and currently has 35 member states from America and the Caribbean, but the participation of the current Cuban government has been suspended. The Kingdom of Morocco is, of course, not a member in this regional body, but probably due to its close ties with the United States of America, Morocco is represented as permanent observer in the OAS. Altogether, there are 60 countries which follow the OAS sessions as permanent observers, many of them are important contributors. The role of a permanent observer is to provide knowledge and assistance as well as advice to the body by bringing in broad perspectives but also concrete experiences from its own region.
The first point on our agenda was the Setting of the Agenda which we were supposed to finish during the first evening of our meeting. As the Agenda Setting is a procedural question, observer states were allowed to vote as well, that is why this point was of high interest for the Moroccan delegation. The topics before the OAS General Assembly were
- Special Security Concerns of Small Island States,
- Organization of American States and Free Trade Areas, and
- Evaluating Human Rights in the Americas.
Even though the majority of observer states, including Morocco, favored to talk first about Free Trade, the member states of the OAS were not interested in the same topics. After a number of possible agenda orders had been brought in and voted down, our favorite proposal was on the floor again and passed. The agenda order was then: (1) Organization of American States and Free Trade Areas, (2) Special Security Concerns of Small Island States, and (3) Evaluating Human Rights in the Americas.
As there was still some time left at this evening, the debate begun immediately. During the next suspension, the first working groups formed. The particular interest of the Kingdom of Morocco in the negotiations on Free Trade Agreements in the Americas was to promote open trade with a broader approach that would benefit all American countries and allow small economies of the South to better participate in the big North American markets. I first addressed my main partners in the committee, the USA and the European Union members, and then tried to get an overview on the different initiatives that were developing in the respective working groups, i.e. building trade capacity in vulnerable economies, creating a new development bank for Latin America or strengthening South South cooperation.
The next day, after further discussions with other delegations, I decided to join the working group focusing on South South cooperation and worked closely with delegations from Algeria, Barbados, Chile, Ghana, Italy, Pakistan, Qatar, and Suriname during the next days. Our paper followed the Six Steps Program of the African Economic Community to build a common all-American free trade area and included also the request for a reduction of trade barriers and (external and internal) tariffs and for the creation of common rules of origin and norms for packing of goods to facilitate trade between American states.
In the long run, our goal set out in the working paper was to bring small economies closer to the development level of strong countries and then to merge and unify American free trade agreements in a gradual way. The latter was a point which Morocco would have liked to stress even more, but the closer the handing-in of our paper came, the more difficult it was to convince other delegations of necessary changes in our draft. In general, Morocco was rather acting as a mediator and trying to combine and coordinate specific proposals than to suggest concrete projects.
When the first working papers were handed in, the Kingdom of Morocco tried to motivate the different working groups to merge their papers and increase cooperation with the OAS member states which had not been listened to enough yet. But many delegations were too ambitious about their own proposals and not ready to negotiate and make compromises with other groups. Nonetheless, the whole session was held in a spirit of cooperation between members and observers, between big players and smaller states. At the end, though, we only had to vote on five draft resolutions concerning free trade and they all passed.
As some time was left, we started to discuss the second topic on our agenda: the Special Security Concerns of Small Island States. Even though Morocco’s main focus lay on the fight against transnational organized crime and the prevention of the negative effects of climate change, I worked with delegates from Algeria, Haiti, Slovenia and the USA on disaster mitigation mechanisms and the establishment of an insurance fund to provide immediate financial support to Small Islands States that had suffered from a natural disaster. Our paper was accepted and became a draft resolution, but due to time constraints, the voting procedure did not take place, and our meeting was adjourned until next year.
To sum up, the work in my committee was very comfortable because the chair prevented a flood of motions and entertained many speakers. What I missed was a more lively discussion in the plenary as well as the willingness of some delegations to cooperate and combine approaches in order to find more general guidelines.