Latin American Program in the News: "Tough Slog for Canada to Change OAS"
by Peter Mazereeuw, Embassy
"Too many mandates
The OAS operates by consensus, voting unanimously on which mandates the organization’s secretary general will pursue. However, few members are willing to risk offending a neighbour in the hemisphere over an issue that may not affect them directly, said the former diplomats and Latin America watchers. As a result, the organization regularly agrees to many mandates that draw resources from the secretariat but have little hope of accomplishing anything in the broader interest of the hemisphere.
“It’s death by a thousand paper cuts,” said Eric Olson, associate director of the Washington-based Wilson Center’s Latin America Program and a former senior specialist at the OAS.
“You can’t really fulfill this variety of mandates,” he said.
The United States and Canada contribute roughly 80 per cent of the OAS budget, but have only a single vote each in determining how the organization spends that money or whether other countries should pay more. As a result, the organization hasn’t had an increase to its budget in “decades, and it shows,” said Mr. Durand.
The long list of mandates pursued by the secretariat strains the organization’s budget, and some members are in arrears, said Mr. Olson."
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