The Thirty-Seventh Regular Session of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) will open in Panama City, Panama, next Sunday, June 3, with a focus on Energy for Sustainable Development, in recognition of the fundamental importance of energy resources for the future of the nations of the region.
OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza and Panamanian President Martín Torrijos will inaugurate the three-day eventÃÂ¢€"which will bring together the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of 34 countriesÃÂ¢€"in a ceremony that will take place Sunday at 7 p.m. at the National Theater of Panama. During the following two days, the ministers will meet at the ATLAPA Convention Center, where they will have the opportunity to discuss and make decisions on a number of priority issues on the inter-American agenda. The draft Declaration of Panama, which will serve as the basis for talks among the foreign ministers, recognizes that "energy is an essential resource for sustainable development of peoples, and that access to energy that is diverse, reliable, secure, and affordable is of paramount importance to economic growth with equity and social inclusion, and contributes to poverty eradication." The document highlights the need to reduce countries' vulnerability in light of fluctuating costs and demand; increase cooperation and energy integration; and, considering the challenges presented by climate change, promote clean and efficient energy. Given the importance the issue of democracy holds for the OAS, an international forum on June 2 will look at "The 2005-2006 Electoral Cycle in the Americas," with an overview of election observations during a period of intense electoral activity in the region. Some of the challenges facing electoral systems in the Americas will also be discussed, as well as the role the OAS can play in supporting modernization efforts and electoral reforms, at the request of the respective member states. Secretary General Insulza and the President of Panama's National Assembly, Representative Elías Castillo, will speak at the opening of the daylong event. The General Assembly is the highest OAS political body, and its decisions will help guide the regional organization's activities and priorities for the coming year in such areas as promoting democratic governance, strengthening human rights, fostering sustainable development and addressing shared security concerns, among other issues.