ANNUAL STAFF ASSEMBLY
INSTALLATION OF THE STAFF COMMITTEE 2007-2008
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
July 10, 2007,
Organization of American States
morning Colleagues! Buenos días mis colegas!
chers collegues! Bom dia
Mr. Assistant Secretary General;
Distinguished Permanent Representatives and Alternate
Representatives of the Member States to the OAS –a special welcome to
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
I now have the
pleasure of inviting you all to share in a
gracias por su atención. Au revoir!