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Convening for conservation.

THE OAS COMMITTEE on the Environment met in Washington, D.C. in late July to consider its agenda for 1993-94 in the context of an inter-American program of action which closely links the solution of environmental problems in the Hemisphere to the solution of problems of development.

The only multilateral treaty currently available to the region (and the oldest legal instrument on the subject) is the Convention for the Protection of Flora, Fauna and Natural Scenic Beauty of the American Countries, which dates back to 1940. This convention reaffirms the importance attached to environmental issues at the time of the Pan American Union, almost a decade before the establishment of the OAS.

The Committee's Chairman, Ambassador Ruben Melgarejo of Paraguay, told delegates from 30 OAS member states "we should take advantage of the opportunities offered by the OAS as a forum for a rational and constructive dialogue, one without recrimination and geared toward formulation of a specific strategy for our Hemisphere . . . integrating the problems of conservation and protection with those related to extreme poverty and environmental degradation."

Melgarejo recalled that the Committee was first installed in 1991 under the chairmanship of Ambassador Heraldo Munoz of Chile, and that under the leadership of the Chilean diplomat a new program of action for the environment was approved. The Paraguayan diplomat said that his country has one of the most advanced and modern constitutions in the Hemisphere and pointed to the fact that it includes a chapter on life and the environment, and closely relates the right to a clean environment to the right to live. He also mentioned that his country's laws provide for sanctions in the cases of ecological crime.

Ecuadorean diplomat Juan Holguin, chairman of a working group whose mission is to consider the legal issues entailed in environmental policy, commented, "we are viewing with great interest the possibility that a new and updated regional treaty be adopted, taking into account the presence in the region of countries with the greatest ecological abundance and of the countries with the highest development standards."
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Title Annotation:OAS; Organization of American States Committee on Environment meeting
Publication:Americas (English Edition)
Date:Sep 1, 1993
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