This is a very interesting assessment of the assembly – from a citizen’s perspective – by two members of our network: Colombian María Camila Ospina, a member of our Youth Program and one of the leaders of the Youth Declaration coalition, and Mexican Erik González Neri, spokesperson for the Freedom of Conscience and Expression coalition. These coalitions exist to have a voice at the OAS. The Youth Declaration helped to curb the ideological activism of diplomats from the Dominican Republic without the approval of your government or Parliament.
What is your assessment of the last OAS Assembly?
María Camila Ospina – I think the balance is ambiguous. On the one hand, I see a strong and organized civil society. A civil society that increasingly understands the importance of its participation in these spaces, and is aware of the agendas that the OAS constantly promotes and that are detrimental to our rights. This is very important. However, on the other hand, this year we saw the lack of commitment of most of the country delegations to the real needs of the people of the Americas. Many countries have increasingly fallen into the game of promoting ideologies over rights.
Erik González Neri – Balance from neutral to bad, since the countries that promoted the resolution managed to approve it, but thanks to the lobbying of various NGOs, governments and coalitions, footnotes were added that weakened the resolution.
How did the youth alliance that you lead experience that meeting? What achievements did they have?
MCO – The youth coalition is getting stronger and stronger. This year many more youth organizations joined and I think we have more and more reach. The coalition is made up of groups from all over the continent, who work every day to promote and live the values of our declaration. We are all young people who firmly believe in the importance of promoting true human rights and stopping the advance of harmful ideologies in our countries. Our greatest strength is that constant work that is ultimately reflected each year at the assembly. We arrive with stronger, more grounded ideas. Specifically this year we made a great effort to monitor the progress of the negotiations before the assembly, we followed up closely the agenda promoted by each country throughout the process. This allowed us, among other things, to alert us when the delegation of the Dominican Republic began to promote a gender agenda, even against the current government and parliament. We mobilized, Dominican society mobilized, and the country withdrew its support. We were also supporting the delegation from Guatemala and Paraguay, who did a great job this year. So, the meeting was exciting, many committed groups, coalitions defending our same principles from different angles, and more and more work put into unveiling the interests behind what is happening and how it affects us.
And in your coalition Erik….
ERN – It was a very emotional meeting because most of those who were in our block were there for the first time, so the need to continue participating in these assemblies, to train ourselves more thoroughly to lobby with the ambassadors and to extend this experience to more people was awakened. One of the achievements was the message that was given by the Coalition because it had great virality in several countries, giving voice to the feelings of many people, to be heard by the OAS and to demand that they address the real needs.
What aspects are of most concern to you and require immediate attention from member countries?
MCO – Our campaign began this year, publishing the 6 threats we identified this year in the draft resolution. These are very relevant because they allow us to see what interests are at work in the OAS, what agenda is being promoted, which lobbies are having the most influence, and which issues the delegations are supporting. Of course, this is where we have to pay attention.
In summary the 6 threats were:
1. The inclusion of the term Women and girls in all its diversity. Through which the concept of Women is redefined in order to include all men and boys who perceive themselves as women.
2. The inclusion of references to conversion therapies with the intention of vetoing in our countries the possibility that people can go to psychological therapy to deal with issues of sexual orientation.
3. One of the most controversial was the inclusion of the reference to Sexual and Reproductive Health and Access to Sexual Health Services for the first time. This has been a strategy to include abortion.
4. A very particular emphasis on intersectionality, through which an attempt is made to privilege people who supposedly accumulate diverse conditions that make them more vulnerable.
5. Discussions of children were included. Asking states to reduce “stigma” and discrimination against children and adolescents;
6. And references were made to the issue of sex education. I think we need to continue to monitor this language, and the lobbying that is being done to avoid being targeted in this regard. Civil society groups are constantly lobbying and it is important to remain vigilant.
ERN – Countries with leftist governments (mainly Mexico, Colombia, Argentina, Chile) are promoting highly ideological, ambiguous concepts, policies and actions, with language not agreed upon by the OAS Assembly.
In the event with civil society, were organizations with a non-progressive agenda marginalized?
MCO – There has always been a differentiated treatment against non-progressive groups. From the official publications of the OAS, in which the massive participation of pro-life and pro-family groups is completely omitted, to the preferential treatment given to the LGTBI coalition, for example, or to the coalition of Religions, Beliefs and Other Spiritualities, or to the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM). It is clear that the OAS has created particular spaces to work with them, that their voice has been given more strength.
This year, however, as in previous years, I believe that the non-progressive groups achieved great visibility and presence. This is an achievement, and I believe that we must continue to work in this direction, and not lower our guard.
ERN – Pro-life and pro-family groups try to respect the rules requested by the OAS for the General Assembly, a situation that does not happen with pro-abortion groups and mainly Trans groups that are rude, vulgar and rebellious, wanting to silence those who do not think like them.
What is the difference compared to the past years when these organizations gained great visibility?
ERN – I believe that visibility was achieved by the commitment and interest in participating in the OAS General Assemblies and the impact that these resolutions have in our countries. This visibility is reflected in the number of pro-life and pro-family Coalitions that participated in the Assembly, more than 10 Coalitions fought the battle.