Who are the candidates running for the position of Secretary General at the OAS?

March 5, 2020

Washington, D.C., March 4, 2020.- In light of the upcoming elections for the position of Secretary-General of the Organization of American States (OAS), civil society organizations invited candidates Luis Almagro, Hugo de Zela, and María Fernanda Espinosa to answer a questionnaire to provide the general public greater insights into their vision and strategies for this institution of regional cooperation, should they be selected -or re-elected- for the position.

This year, the vote is scheduled for March 20 and will take place during an Extraordinary General Assembly in Washington, D.C., in which OAS member states will cast their votes. The winner must secure at least 18 votes to fill the position.

Once elected, he or she will be responsible for leading the OAS between the period from 2020 to 2025, and respond to the needs of a region marked by high rates of violence, constant and changing flows of migrants and refugees, and the fragility of democratic institutions across several countries, among other crises with continental impact.

The questionnaire was designed by the Washington Office on Latin American (WOLA), the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), and the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF) in the spirit of fostering greater dialogue and transparency. It covers five general questions on their professional experience, the role of the OAS in addressing  regional challenges, the importance of protecting and promoting human rights, and the urgency of maintaining the independence and autonomy of human rights protection mechanisms.

Hugo de Zela and María Fernanda Espinosa answered the questionnaire within the established deadline.

 Get to know the candidates*:

  • Hugo de Zela, Peruvian ambassador for the United States, Peru - Download here.
  • Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Ex President of the UN General Assembly, Ecuador- Download here.

Created in 1948, the OAS gathers State representatives from across the hemisphere in Washington, D.C. to foster a space for governance and multilateral dialogue. It also includes the main organs of the Inter-American System for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights - the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and Inter-American Court of Human Rights.

Through this initiative, all three organizations seek to promote a process that will increase dialogue between the people running for the office of Secretary General and the public at-large. By publishing the biographies and proposals developed by the candidates, the organizations coordinating this effort hope to strengthen and legitimize the institution.

 *The translations to English were done by the organizers. The definitive version of the responses were provided by the candidates in Spanish.