OAS: Organization of American States

Topic A: Facing Election Challenges in Latin America

The United Nations holds that fair and transparent elections are the bedrock for a stable, successful government. However, historically, Latin America has suffered from substantial electoral problems. In Venezuela, for example, politicians can use government resources to fund and promote their reelection campaigns, posing substantial material disadvantages for non-incumbent candidates. While the OAS currently has structures in place that function to legitimize and oversee elections, these structures rely on the cooperation of member-states. As a result, election overseers are often banned in states where they are needed the most. Historically, countries that have refused election observers have done so when corrupt government officials fear that monitoring would prevent re-election. Additionally, the OAS has begun looking into helping countries reform their campaign finance laws, which have loopholes that allow sitting public officials to skim money from the government for the purpose of financing their campaigns, representing a gross breach of their duties and responsibilities as public servants. Despite challenges associated with overseeing elections, the OAS must come together to promote cooperation and transparency in elections throughout Latin America. Only then will truly stable and successful states exist.

Topic B: Providing a Quality Education to Youth in the Americas

Despite the increasing availability of education in North and South America, there is significant progress to be made in the region. For many, accessibility to a school does not mean that the children in attendance are receiving a quality education. According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, a “quality” education is one that fulfills the following requirements: ready, dedicated, and well-nourished learners; safe and gender-sensitive environments; relevant curriculums, especially ones dedicated to safety and literacy; well-trained teachers; and outcomes linked to national educational goals. The OAS is uniquely suited to discussing this topic because of its far-reaching member base and the precedents it can set towards lifelong learning opportunities. In South and Central America, and across areas of North America, the problems of providing a quality education remain pressing. In 2010, when the OAS met to discuss challenges in education, it was determined that the Bahamas, Barbados, and Chile were the only member-states to have reached the target goal of 75% primary school completion. Of the remaining countries, five retained completion rates under 30%, demonstrating the work still to be done. In discussing education, OAS members will also explore its ties to human rights, economics, and global development, revealing the interconnected relationship between academics and the state.

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