July 12, 2007



Tuesday, July 10, 2007 

To watch the video of the inaugural speech of your new Staff Association President,
please click on the following link:

Video Annual Staff Assembly July 10, 2007 

Address by Ms. Gillian M. S. Bristol upon the assumption of the Presidency 

July 10, 2007, Washington, D.C.
Organization of American States  

            Good morning Colleagues! Buenos días mis colegas! Bon jour chers collegues! Bom dia
apreciados colegas! 

Mr. Secretary General;
            Mr. Assistant Secretary General;
            Distinguished Permanent Representatives and Alternate Representatives of the Member States to the OAS –a special welcome to you;
            Mr. Rene Gutierrez, Immediate Past President,
Members of the outgoing Staff Committee;
            My dear Members of the Staff Committee 2007-2008;
            My Sister and Brother Staff Members: 

It is with a deep sense of pride that I stand before you as President of the Staff Committee of the Organization of American States, elected by a resounding majority to serve you for the next 12 months. You have honored me with your confidence and I pledge my commitment to represent you with determination, and to see each issue through to resolution.  

I am particularly proud to be the first CARICOM national elected to this office in the near 80 years of the Staff Association’s existence, and in the 45 years since a CARICOM country first joined the OAS.  

I assure you that the term of office of the Staff Committee 2007-2008 shall be characterized by fairness and transparency, and that we will dialogue, consult and inform on all matters.  Your participation in the elections is an indisputable mandate to me and to my fellow members of this Staff Committee.  

            Permit me to present Mr. Luis Villalobos, Mr. Luis Batlle, Mrs. Lucrecia Zea-Yonker, Ms. Jane Mohan and Mrs. Rosana Martinelli.  Mr. Bruce Rickerson and Ms. Patricia Quiroz send their regrets that they are unable to join us today –Patty is away on previously scheduled leave and sadly, Bruce had an accident but I am happy to report that he is recovering well.  This “Dream Team” looks forward to working with and for each and every one of you in the coming year.  You endorsed our platform built on five broad themes: Representation –which is central–, Job security, Fairness in the workplace, Participation and inclusiveness, and Respect.  

And so I invite you now, Mr. Secretary General, Mr. Assistant Secretary General, and all Members of Staff, let’s have a talk. Let’s have a conversation that makes this platform a reality. It is time for engagement with sincerity and a genuine willingness to consider all perspectives and options on matters that affect the welfare of the staff. We must create an environment in this General Secretariat marked by positive energy, there must be constructive engagement, and we must interact in a spirit of collegiality. Our ambition must be to achieve a synergy that inspires the best from us, transcends our differences, and builds on our commonalities.  

All of this that we envision must, of necessity, be grounded in and circumscribed by respect for the rule of law. 

Let’s start talking about it now.   

A fundamental commonality we share is the success of this Organization –a success which must be founded on mutual respect and can only be sustained by a participatory approach to decision-making, where all stakeholders are involved. This understanding means that any modifications to the established Standards, Rules, or systems, policies and procedures that impact on staff welfare must take into consideration the consequences for staff and would be best developed through consultation. We are all invested in the success of this Organization.  

It is an equal imperative that the staff concerns such as job security and fairness in the workplace must be also addressed by applying the principles of respect for the rule of law and mutual respect, as well as employing a participatory approach.  

            As we serve the Organization and the noble ideals enshrined in its Charter and in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, our conversation must embrace the Member States. I propose establishing, through the Secretary General, avenues of dialogue between staff and delegates in the interest of creating a more profound understanding of our respective roles, responsibilities, and issues.  

            To give expression to our mandate in the short-term, this Staff Committee intends to translate the Statutes of the Staff Association into the four official languages of the Organization, and to distribute it to all Staff members; indeed, we have already begun to review those Statutes to ensure that they are in accord with modern international organizational practice and procedures. As part of our thrust to keep you the staff informed of our actions and interventions on your behalf and to also afford you every opportunity to be involved, we are taking steps to ensure that the Committee members are allotted time specifically for dealing with your issues; we have also begun consultations on ways to make the Staff Association website more interactive and informative; and we intend to host a series of meetings among the different departments of the General Secretariat with the Staff Committee –a meet-and-greet occasion where we can learn who our neighbors in the next cubicle, office or down the hallway are and what we do. This outreach includes our sister and brother staff members in the field and in the Offices of the General Secretariat in the Member States.   

We are also very mindful of the long and successful history of accomplishments by the Staff body and will be drawing on that resource through a closer relationship with the Association of Retirees of the OAS, as well with several current staff members who have previously served on the Staff Committee and who remain dedicated to the welfare of the staff.  

Additionally, we have an excellent opportunity for strengthening the Staff Association by increasing collaboration with two major international staff organizations –Federation of International Civil Servants Associations (FICSA) which seeks to protect the rights of the staff of the United Nations and its specialized agencies, funds and programs and WISA –the Washington International Staff Associations comprised of the Staff Associations like ours in the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Pan American Health Organization and the Asian Development Bank, and of course our Staff Association. 

            The Staff Committee will be working out a detailed strategic plan for the long-term, and among our initiatives will be a review of the institutional arrangements for staff representation on specific committees to ensure optimum participation and effectiveness and to regularly inform you about their activities and decisions.  

            As some of you may know, the Staff Association was established in 1928 as part of the precursor to the OAS, the Pan American Union. We therefore have a major milestone to celebrate in 2008. This is yet another matter to talk about and to celebrate. The Staff Committee considers this an occasion in which we can all participate and welcomes your ideas and suggestions about how we can mark this anniversary.  

Before closing, I must express our appreciation to the outgoing President and Staff Committee members for their service to the Staff body during the past year. Also, we thank the President and members of the Nominating Committee for their service to the Staff during the elections and for their thorough analysis of the results.  

Quisiera felicitar también a nuestro colega Señor Ernesto Cossich por su elección como miembro suplente del Comité del Personal. Asimismo, felicitamos a los señores Oscar Harasic y Enrique Bello por su re-elección al Fondo de Jubilaciones y Pensiones de la OEA y les agradecemos por el excelente trabajo que han venido haciendo en nombre de todos nosotros. 

The Staff Committee would like to express its special appreciation to all the Staff members who voted, and who elected us to office, both here at Headquarters and in the National Offices. There was a significant voter turnout of about 70% of eligible voters. We are keenly aware of the significance of this trust you have placed in us and of the expectations you have of us. We accept the responsibility and are confident that we will have a successful year built on our joint efforts.   

A very special thank you to our colleagues –too many to name at this moment– for their dedication and active support behind the scenes which were crucial to the success of our campaign.   

Colleagues, you have the assurances of this President and of the members of this Staff Committee that we will make this Staff Association and Committee the most dynamic, visible, and effective that they can be during our tenure.  

We will strive to ensure that all staff members are absolutely clear about their membership in the Association and their eligibility to participate in elections and all staff activities, as well the benefits to be gained from such participation and from registering with the Association. During the electoral process, several staff members declared to me their intention to immediately resume paying dues to the Staff Association or to begin doing so, simply because of their confidence in the new committee and its President. This is an unambiguous renewal of faith in the Staff Association under the guidance of this new Staff Committee –a statement which strengthens our resolve to serve.  

I urge you all to follow your colleagues’ exemplary action and register with the Association –today is a good time to start! We are here to serve you but can only fully realize the high expectations you have of us if we can count on your active support and contributions.  

            Ladies and Gentlemen, today we have started the conversation. We have touched on some of the issues that we are compelled to address in the coming days and months.  

We are encouraged that the dialogue will be sustained and fruitful, given the enthusiastic reception by so very many of you during the past 4 weeks leading up to the elections and since then, and by the warm welcome we have received from the Secretary General, the Assistant Secretary General and both their Chiefs of Staff; from the Assistant Secretary for Management; the Assistant Secretary for Multidimensional Security; the Secretary for Integral Development; and several Department Directors.  

Let’s continue to talk, let’s share our ideas and expertise so that the OAS General Secretariat can be a more harmonious workplace in which we can truly serve the people and governments of the Americas. It’s a new day, there’s a new vision. Let’s talk about it … it is time for action.  

Thank you. 

I now have the pleasure of inviting you all to share in a brindis

Muchas gracias por su atención. Au revoir!


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