WASHINGTON _ Former Colombian President César Gaviria, whose 10-year leadership of the Organization of American States (OAS) revitalized that hemispheric institution, today joined the fight for healthy seas around the world by becoming a member of the Board of Directors of Oceana, the only international conservation group solely dedicated to ocean protection.
“As Arvid Pardo, the primary author and advocate of the United Nations Law of the Sea, put it, the oceans themselves, as much as the resources that can be taken from them, are the common heritage of mankind,” said President Gaviria, 57. “Oceana is spearheading a struggle to safeguard humanity’s heritage by protecting ocean habitat and marine wildlife. This work is for the benefit of everyone on this planet. I am delighted that I can help in this struggle.”
As president of Colombia from 1990-94, Gaviria was a respected political figure of international standing. That standing was enhanced during his two-term tenure as OAS secretary general from 1994 to 2004. Former President Jimmy Carter recently said Gaviria brought “dynamism” to the OAS. Currently, Gaviria serves as Chairman of Hemispheric Partners, an international business advisory firm he helped found.
“César Gaviria possesses an impeccable track record as a defender of human rights and of democracy throughout Latin America, and as such, he knows the socioeconomic importance of the oceans and the need to preserve them for future generations,” said Oceana CEO Andrew Sharpless. “He is an accomplished figure and we are thankful he will lend his extensive public experience to help Oceana continue to achieve victories in the water and on land.”
Through his role at Hemispheric Partners, Gaviria continues his work as a conflict mediator, someone who recognizes that regional integration and economic development are the most solid bases for strengthening democracy. At the OAS, Gaviria was instrumental in defusing numerous crises in Latin America, most recently in Venezuela. He also linked the OAS with the Summit of the Americas, the process of regional economic integration that has given rise to the creation of sub-regional free-trade areas and bilateral agreements. Under Gaviria’s leadership, the OAS received the 2002 W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award from the National Democratic Institute in recognition of the organization’s success in strengthening democratic values in the hemisphere.
Gaviria joins an Oceana board comprised of leaders from the scientific, foundation and business worlds, including internationally renowned marine scientist Daniel Pauly and actor and advocate Ted Danson.