Reviving Multilateral Diplomacy: Perspectives from the US Ambassador to the OAS

Photo of Frank Mora and Rebecca Bill Chavez

Following recent speeches from Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian Nichols on the Biden administration’s foreign policy, Francisco Mora, US Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), delivered remarks at the Inter-American Dialogue on October 24, 2023, outlining the US vision of a multilateral approach to mobilizing our hemisphere to take on the region’s greatest challenges and opportunities.  

Inter-American Dialogue President & CEO Dr. Rebecca Bill Chavez introduced Ambassador Mora and highlighted his career as an academic and public servant. Chavez expressed her appreciation of Mora’s efforts to create a pipeline of talent focused on inter-american relations. She went on to commend the OAS for its recent role in defending democracy and elections in Guatemala. 

In his opening remarks, Ambassador Mora stated that the US mission to the OAS is aligning its work with the Biden administration’s broader foreign policy approach. Mora said the US delegation aims to collaborate with a broader set of partners that includes not just national governments, but also local governments and civil society organizations, academia, the private sector, and citizens, especially young and emerging leaders in the hemisphere. 

“[American diplomacy] is revitalizing our partnerships and alliances in pursuit of a more stable, more secure, and more prosperous world.”

 - Francisco Mora, US Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS)

Ambassador Mora stressed that today’s global challenges are also hemispheric, and they require that the United States leads with purpose, confidence, and a collaborative spirit. Under the Biden administration, there has been a renewed emphasis on diplomacy. Mora believes the members states of the OAS can and should play a central role in finding common ground on core issues.  

He continued by explaining the role of the OAS in promoting collective global initiatives, such as the Community of Democracies, the Open Government Partnership, and the Freedom Online Coalition, which further exemplifies the strength and resilience of democratic values when supported by the concerted efforts of like-minded countries. In addition, the OAS Permanent Council has come together to support the first ever increase in the Organization’s budget in over a decade, demonstrating member states’ commitment to the institution.

Democratic Erosion 

According to Ambassador Mora, one of the most prominent challenges in the region is democratic erosion; revisionist powers are challenging the democratic norms and institutions that anchor the international system and reversing hard-fought progress. New forms of autocratic governance are emerging creating a threat to security and human rights in the hemisphere.  

He referenced a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit showing that even though Latin America and the Caribbean remains the region with the highest average democratic score outside of North America and Western Europe, only 39 percent of the public reports satisfaction with how the democratic system performs, the lowest average recorded since polling began in 2004.  

Mora also cited LAPOP’s Americas Barometer latest findings which show that the support for democracy has declined from years prior. Democracies are more fragile and are facing unprecedented challenges by leaders who attack independent judiciaries, marshal forces of the state to undermine electoral results and crack down on human rights defenders and civil society. He stressed the necessity to face these challenges with new ideas, voices, and visions to preserve and protect democracy.  

“Democracy has proven time and again that it is the best system we have in the world to give voice to our people, to deal with our global challenges, and to contribute to a world that is free, open, and prosperous.”

- Francisco Mora, US Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS)

Defending Democracy through Coalitions 

Ambassador Mora asserted that the main priority for the OAS is strengthening and upholding democratic institutions in the Americas. Underpinning this vision, member states have committed to the Inter-American Democratic Charter and have stood up for election integrity and defended a rules-based order. 

He highlighted Guatemala’s election as an example where the OAS has built coalitions and gained strength from adding a diverse group of voices to the calls for upholding democratic values. Mora also announced that the OAS will be adopting a resolution urging member states to redouble their efforts to prioritize assistance to Haiti, consistent with the recent UN Security Council Resolution on Haiti. Furthermore, he assured that his team and the OAS are committed to not abandoning those who still face brutal repression in countries such as Nicaragua and Cuba.   

“This is what defines the OAS: consensus building. Whether it’s a resolution, a declaration, or an observation mission, the mere act of establishing this sort of baseline for partnership has reverberating effects throughout our hemisphere.”

- Francisco Mora, US Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS)


The Ambassador claimed that the US government is concerned with external actors such as China and Russia causing instability and undermining democracy in the region by using sophisticated technology for disinformation and election interference. Mora reaffirmed the US mission’s commitment to upholding the highest possible democratic standards. 

Inclusive and Equitable Economic Growth 

Mora raised the challenge of inequality and disparity within the region. As disparities grow, disillusionment erodes faith in democratic institutions. The Covid-19 pandemic further strained social safety nets, impacting the region's economic stability. In the face of these challenges, Mora emphasized the need for resilient supply chains, shared values with a focus on workers' rights, strong social safety nets, investment, and combating corruption.  

Ambassador Mora highlighted collaborative initiatives, such as the Partnership for Worker's Rights between the US and Brazil, aimed at advancing workers' rights globally. He further mentioned the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity, a regional effort with 12 participating countries representing a significant portion of the hemisphere's GDP and population. Mora underscored the US mission’s support for subregional groupings like the Alliance for Development in Democracy, emphasizing cooperative innovation and shared values as a way to enhance citizens' lives across the region. 

Sustainable Development 

For Ambassador Mora, addressing climate change and promoting sustainable development are a top priority. Mora stated the US government is actively mobilizing partner nations, resulting in historic progress in combating climate change. The United States co-hosted the first High-Level Dialogue on Climate Action in the Americas, which accelerated commitments through the Renewable Energy for Latin America and Caribbean Initiative and has prioritized the US-Caribbean Partnership to Address the Climate Crisis 2030.  

The recent approval of the Declaration of Bahamas also demonstrates commitment to enhancing climate finance and supporting green growth, and the US government funds the Energy and Climate Partnership of the Americas (ECPA), the hemisphere's flagship initiative for sustainable energy development. 

“All across the hemisphere, we are seeing climate change wreak havoc on communities, upending economies, disrupting patterns of agricultural productivity, and exacerbating conditions for vulnerable and historically disadvantaged populations.”

- Francisco Mora, US Ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS)

In closing, Ambassador Mora recognized that no single nation can address the complex global issues we face today, from the climate crisis to food insecurity and democratic erosion. Instead, resolving these challenges requires international cooperation. At the State Department and the OAS, the US focus on partnership and coalition building facilitates the mobilization of diverse entities behind shared visions, benefiting not only the United States but the entire hemisphere. Multilateral diplomacy offers an opportunity to shape current dialogues and future solutions.  

Concluding the event, President & CEO Rebecca Bill Chavez highlighted that today’s most pressing challenges transcend borders, and as such, they require the collective action of OAS member states. She also pointed to the importance of reinvigorating the Inter-American Democratic Charter and the possibility of an early warning system to help prevent the dismantling of democratic institutions. Finally, Mora reaffirmed that the OAS plays an essential role in maintaining and strengthening the democratic governance across the hemisphere. 



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