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CP/doc.3337/00 rev.1
30 may 2000
Original: Spanish/English

 

SIXTH REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN SUMMITS MANAGEMENT TO THE MINISTERS OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

 

CONTENTS

Summary of the Meetings held by the Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management 

Activities of the Organization of American States to Fulfill the Mandates of the Second Summit of the Americas 

    • Education 
    • Democracy 
    • Human Rights 
    • Civil Society 
    • Migrant Workers 
    • Strengthening Municipal and Regional Administrations 
    • Corruption 
    • Prevention and Control of Illicit Consumption of and Traffic in Drugs and Psychotropic Substances and Other Related Crimes 
    • Terrorism 
    • Confidence- and Security-Building among States 
    • Strengthening of Justice Systems and Judiciaries 
    • Modernization of the State in Labor Matters 
    • Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) 
    • Science and Technology 
    • Regional Energy Cooperation 
    • Telecommunications 
    • Fostering the Development of Micro, Small, and Medium-Size Enterprises 
    • Property Registration 
    • Women 
    • Basic Rights of Workers 
    • Indigenous Populations 
    • Sustainable Development 
    • Cooperation 

 

 

SIXTH REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN SUMMITS MANAGEMENT TO THE MINISTERS OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS

(Prepared in compliance with resolution AG/RES. 1659 (XXIX-O/99)

 This report, prepared in compliance with General Assembly resolution AG/RES. 1659 (XXIX-O/99), contains information on the activities of the Organization of American States (OAS) undertaken to implement the mandates of the Second Summit of the Americas, held in Santiago, Chile, in April of 1998.

The report covers the activities of the Organization for the period June 1999 - May 2000. The information is presented under the headings of the Santiago Plan of Action, and in the order presented in that document. The report contains information only on those mandates in which the OAS is involved. In some instances, the OAS has the institutional lead on an issue; in other instances, the OAS plays a supporting role.

Summary of the meetings held by the Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management

During the period covered by this report, the Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management held two open meetings, which were attended by member state delegations, experts from international financial institutions and international and regional organizations (IDB, PAHO, OAS, ECLAC, and IBRD), as well as representatives of civil society to discuss the progress made on various initiatives of the Plan of Action of the Santiago Summit.

The Committee's meetings are held approximately one month prior to the meetings of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) and cover the same agenda. Consequently, the Committee's meetings have essentially become preparatory meetings for the SIRG. They have also become a forum for discussion among governments and civil society, through which valuable contributions to the Summit process are made, as they are transmitted to SIRG governmental follow-up meetings.

The first meeting of the Special Committee was held on October 12, 1999, and discussed the following topics: Women; Strengthening of Regional and Municipal Administrations; Fostering the Development of Micro, Small and Medium Size Enterprises; Property Registration; Building Confidence and Security among States; Regional Energy Cooperation; and Science and Technology. Despite the diversity of the topics considered during this open meeting, several common views emerged from the discussion: (1) when topics are addressed, everything is interrelated, hence the need for all actors to become involved, not only in policy-making but also in project implementation; (2) there are many crosscutting issues, which are difficult to follow up on; (3) many lessons have been learned and experiences must be widely shared, in particular in the same region; (4) it is difficult to follow up on the operative points in some areas because of the way in which the text is drafted (often it is declaratory and not action-oriented); and (5) there is a need to further improve on the lines of action of the mandates of the next Summit so that it will be easier to follow up on the commitments and make them more concrete.

On the topic of women, the discussion centered on the lack of resources and the need for specific proposals for the next Summit. It was deemed important to follow up on the topic and to focus on the implementation of existing legislation, which also calls for additional resources. On the topic of decentralization, specific reference was made to the activities being carried out by various institutions (UPD, IBRD, USAID) on this issue and the concern was expressed that the process was stagnating in some Latin American countries. On the topic of micro-enterprise, the IDB, USAID, the OAS, and the Grameen Foundation gave an account of their programs. In addition, the representative of ACCION International reported on the positive consequences of micro-enterprise. On the topic of security, the former Chair and the present Chair of the Committee on Hemispheric Security described the Committee's activities and civil society suggested that importance should also be given to environmental security issues, such as access to resources and their depletion and degradation. With regard to energy, the OAS Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment summed up the achievements in the energy sector, pursuant to the Summit mandate. The Summits managed to boost the expansion of energy services in both urban and rural areas, while at the same time protecting the local and global environment. On the topic of science and technology, the Director of the OAS office responsible for this topic summarized the activities carried out to follow up on the Santiago Plan of Action. For further information on the presentations made at this meeting, refer to document CE/GCI-163/99, "Open Meeting of the Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management, Chair's Summary" (www.summit-americas.org).

The second open meeting of the Committee was held on February 18, 2000, and reviewed the following topics: Democracy and Human Rights, Migrant Workers, Indigenous Populations, Property Registration, and Financial Markets. The common positions that emerged in the discussion were the need for an exchange of experiences on the national implementation of the mandates of the Plan of Action. For their part, the representatives of civil society expressed the need for more specific mandates for the next Summit. Regarding the meeting in general, the governments and civil society considered that it afforded a very valuable opportunity for a constructive exchange of ideas.

On the topic of democracy, a highly productive discussion took place between governments and civil society, which underscored the need to include the topic of political parties in the discussion on the strengthening of democracy. As regards the topic of human rights, presentations were made by the Chair of the OAS Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs, the Executive Secretary of the IACHR, and various representatives of civil society. In the presentations, reference was made to the need to improve and strengthen the inter-American human rights system on the basis of its present structure. Emphasis was placed on the importance of the universality of international instruments and the national implementation of the agreements signed. With regard to property registration, two presentations were made on the activities of USAID and of the National Registry Center in El Salvador.

On the topic of indigenous populations, the Chair of the OAS Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs made a presentation in which he explained the negotiating process for the draft American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Populations. Civil society representatives also took the floor to refer to the crosscutting nature of the participation of indigenous populations in the deliberations on the Summit agenda and to underscore the importance of the work of the Working Group on the proposed American Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Populations and, in particular, the process established to allow indigenous representatives to participate in the discussions on the proposed Declaration. On the topic of migrant workers, presentations were made by the Executive Secretary of the IACHR and the representative of the ORIT/ICFTU (Inter-American Regional Organization of Workers of the International Confederation of Free Trade Unions). On that occasion, it was announced that a symposium on migrant workers in Latin America and the Caribbean, sponsored by the OAS, ECLAC, and the IOM, would be held in Costa Rica in September. Lastly, on the topic of financial markets, the Director of the OAS Trade Unit reported on the meeting of Ministers of Finance held in Cancun, Mexico. For further information on the presentations made at this meeting, refer to document CE/GCI-165/00 corr. 1, "Meeting of the Special Committee on
Inter-American Summits Management, Summary by the Chair"

Activities of the Organization of American States to fulfill the mandates of the Second Summit of the Americas

EDUCATION

The Declaration of Santiago identified education as a key issue for the Hemisphere in the processes of development and integration, and instructed the Ministers of Education to meet in Brasilia to promote specific joint initiatives designed to improve access to education, with fairness, quality, relevancy, and effectiveness. The OAS Inter-American Program of Education, approved by the Ministers of Education at their meeting in Brasilia in July 1998, defined lines of action and priority projects in the area of cooperation to implement the commitments set forth in the Plan of Action of Santiago.

At its twenty-ninth regular session, held in June 1999, the OAS General Assembly adopted the resolution "The Inter-American Program on Education." This resolution instructed the Inter-American Council for Integral Development along with the Unit for Social Development and Education (and other bodies) to execute the Inter-American Program of Education. The programs and projects outlined below are being carried out by the OAS' Unit for Social Development and Education in accordance with that Mandate.

Meetings of the Inter-Agency Education Group of the Summit of the Americas

The Unit for Social Development and Education has continued to focus its efforts in pursuit of the mandates of the Second Summit of the Americas. Actions include participating at the meetings of the Inter-Agency Education Group of the Summit of the Americas. The Group, which is composed of representatives of the coordinating countries and the IDB, World Bank, ECLAC, UNESCO, and the OAS involved in education matters in the Americas, examines the extent to which the Summit’s mandates have been put into practice and assesses proposed programs and projects drawn up in accordance with the Summit’s lines of action.

First Meeting for the Integration of Agricultural and Rural Education in the Americas

In a partnership with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the USDE jointly sponsored the First Meeting for the Integration of Agricultural and Rural Education in the Americas, held at OAS headquarters in August 1999. This meeting created a network of American investigators engaged in developing agricultural education programs at the university level.

Cooperation Agreements

Over the past twelve months, the Unit has negotiated four individual cooperation agreements; one each with UNESCO (education for democracy and sustainability), the World Bank (education and integral child development), UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) (education management and planning), and the Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science, and Culture (OEI) (education and development).

The agreement with the World Bank was signed in the first half of 1999 and gave the Unit responsibility for forming specialized networks and for maintaining the World Bank's Web page on child education in Latin America. The agreement signed with OEI took place during the Colloquium on Compensatory Programs in Basic Education held during the first trimester of 2000 in Peru. The objective of this colloquium was to consolidate into one Support Plan and report on experiences in Latin America.

Multinational Technical Cooperation Programs

The Unit for Social Development and Education (UDSE) provided technical advisory services to eleven Multinational Technical Cooperation projects that were developed in accordance with the mandates of the Second Summit of the Americas. Ten of these projects are multinational, and are listed below:

    • Education for Priority Social Sectors. Basic education: Compensatory Programs at Basic Education Level;
    • Initial Education;
    • Equity of Access, continuance and performance to Basic Education for Boys and Girls
    • Strengthening Educational Administration and Institutional Development
    • Education in Urban and National Project: Development of Capacity for Management of Rural Education in Urban and Rural Areas;
    • Education for Work and Development of Youth;
    • Education for Citizenship and Sustainability in Multicultural Societies
    • Bilingual Intercultural Education;
    • Exchanges of Teachers and Students of the Official Languages of the OAS.
    • Professional training of Teachers and Education Administrators;

UDSE Technical Advisory Services

The UDSE has provided technical advisory services which helped form alliances between institutions of government, civil society, international agencies, and specialized institutions, particularly at the level of initial and preschool and/or toddler education and in the experiences of compensatory programs being run by the countries. Intersectoral efforts in support of education for small children, particularly health and feeding programs, were backed in different countries by operations in conjunction with the Pan American Health Organization and/or the World Food Program.

All the projects facilitated horizontal cooperation between countries, the systematization of experiences, the training of teachers and education administrators, and, in some cases, training for representatives of civil society. In one project monitored by the Unit, researchers and teachers were trained to bring about changes in the public schools by introducing computers and increasing parent participation. Another important contribution was training Spanish teachers in the Caribbean in the use of new technologies in the classroom.

World Symposium on Early Childhood Education for the 21st Century

One of the main objectives of the UDSE was to complement the initiative of the Junta Nacional de Jardines Infantiles (National Board of Kindergartens, or JUNJI), of Chile, to organize and conduct a Symposium which was held March 1 to 4, 2000 in Santiago, Chile. The event was attended by participants from all over the world and was sponsored by the Government of Chile and other national and international agencies such as the Chamber of Deputies of Chile, the OAS, UNICEF, UNESCO, PAHO, CEPAL, CELEP, the Pontifical University of Chile, and the Catholic University of Chile, among others. A joint declaration was approved entitled "Declaración de Santiago a Favor de la Infancia Mundial" (Santiago Declaration on Behalf of the World’s Children). The Declaration set priorities in the field of child education and defined a method for them to be carried out in the new century. Measures to implement the commitments of this Declaration began in April 2000.

 

DEMOCRACY

The promotion of democracy is one of the central mandates of the Plan of Action of the Santiago Summit. The programs of the OAS Unit for the Promotion of Democracy (UPD) are formulated with specific emphasis on the mandates adopted in the Plans of Action of the Summits of the Americas. The UPD supports member states for the preservation and strengthening of political institutions and democratic consolidation. The UPD’s activities are carried out in the broader context of the role of the OAS as an agent for generating and exchanging knowledge, information and experience, an instrument for partnership and cooperation, and as the high-level political forum of the hemisphere.

Disseminating and Exchanging Information and Experiences

One of the central Summit mandates for the UPD is to promote the exchange of experiences and information on democracy. The UPD’s ‘Democratic Forum’ and related seminars, which are concerned with varied priority topics, represent one of the institutional demonstrations of those efforts. These forums deal in depth with themes such as modernizing electoral administration; the role of legislatures and parliaments in a democracy; conflict prevention, management and resolution; policy frameworks for decentralization and citizen participation; and the role of civil society in the consolidation of democracy, among others. Such events, which are held both at OAS headquarters and in numerous member states, and organized in cooperation with national and sub-regional institutions, give local, sub-regional and national leaders a venue to discuss theories of democratization, strategies, accomplishments and experiences. They are generating greater knowledge and enhancing collaboration among and between governmental officials, legislators, academics, civil society representatives, media professionals and other participants from throughout the hemisphere.

Some of the seminars and meetings which the UPD conducted or supported in 1999 and in early 2000, included:

  • Regional Seminar: Legislation for the Reconstruction of Central America. This seminar took place February 18-19, 1999, in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. It was jointly organized with the Forum of Presidents of the Legislative Branch of Central America (FOPREL), and the Congress of Honduras.
  • Central American Meeting of Experts on "Facilitation of Municipal Training and Technical Assistance". This meeting took place May 4-6, 1999 in Roatan, Honduras and was jointly organized with the Central American Federation of Municipalities (FEMICA).
  • Andean Community and Mercosur: "Second Seminar on Frameworks and Policies for Citizen Participation at the Municipal Level". This seminar occurred on May 17-19, 1999, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was jointly organized with the Argentinean Ministry of Interior.
  • Andean Subregional Conference on Computerization of Civil Registries and Electoral Procedures. This conference took place on August 17-18, 1999, in Quito, Ecuador and was jointly organized with the Supreme Electoral Tribunal of Ecuador.
  • Seminar on Decentralization and Local Government with an Emphasis on Citizen Participation. This seminar took place November 18-19, 1999, in Quito, Ecuador, and was jointly organized with FLACSO.
  • Meeting of the Central American Inter-parliamentary Committee on Legislative Modernization. This seminar occurred on November 29, 1999, in Guatemala and was jointly organized with FOPREL.
  • Regional Seminar: Institutional Dimension of MERCOSUR. This seminar took place November 18-19, 1999, in Montevideo, Uruguay, and was jointly organized with the Program for Legislative Studies of the Latin American Center for Human Economy (PEL-CLAEH), the Joint Parliamentary Commission of MERCOSUR (CPC), and the Congress of Uruguay.
  • First Central American Summit against Drug Trafficking and Corruption. On February 24 and 25, 2000, this event took place in San José, Costa Rica, organized by FOPREL and its Central American Inter-parliamentary Commission against Drug Trafficking and Corruption (CICONA), with the assistance of the UPD. FOPREL also benefited from the collaboration of staff of the OAS Department of Juridical Cooperation and Dissemination and CICAD.
  • Seminar for Analysis and Reflection on Participatory Democracy: Experts, academics and government representatives attended the Seminar for Analysis and Reflection on Participatory Democracy, held on April 10 and 11, 2000 at OAS headquarters. Discussed at the seminar was the need to improve citizens' access and the means of participating more directly in policy-making and day-to-day public affairs. The seminar was organized by the Working Group on Representative Democracy of the OAS in conjunction with the UPD, and chaired by Venezuela’s Permanent Representative, Ambassador Virginia Contreras, Chair of the Working Group.

Partnership and Cooperation: Training and Orientation

As a vital tool for strengthening democratic institutions as well as promoting democratic practices and values, the UPD has developed a hemispheric program of training courses in various key thematic areas. In the framework of this program, a specific line of courses is dedicated exclusively to the training of young democratic leaders of the hemisphere. The Unit's courses, which are primarily conducted on a sub-regional basis, have included the following since June 1999:

  • Regional Course for the Central American Region: Conflict Resolution. This course took place June 23-30, 1999 in the Dominican Republic, and was jointly organized with the U.S. Institute of Peace y Universidad Madre y Maestra. The principal objective of the seminar was to promote a better understanding of the dynamics of socio-political conflict, as well as the development of abilities and expertise to prevent, manage and resolve conflict peacefully.
  • Regional Course for the Andean Region: Decentralization with an Emphasis on Management and Finances. This course was presented from June 21- July 1, 1999 in Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia, and was jointly organized with the Universidad Javeriana. This course offered an opportunity in the region for reflection and training on the conceptual and practical elements of the decentralization process, local government, and citizen participation.
  • Regional Course for Mercosur: "Legislative Branch in Democracy and Integration." This theoretical-practical course took place August 1-12, 1999 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, for the member states of Mercosur. The course was jointly organized with the Parliamentary Training Institute (ICAP) of the Argentinean Congress. Twenty representatives participated from civil society organizations, universities, the media, non-governmental organizations and political parties of the Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay and Brazil. The course promoted greater knowledge of the powers, role and workings of the legislative branch in a democracy and in integration, and a greater understanding of its complexity, shortcomings and opportunities, particularly among public opinion-makers.
  • Regional Course for the MERCOSUR: "Decentralization and Local Government with an Emphasis on Citizen Participation". This course took place August 8-18, 1999, in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and was jointly organized with the Argentinean Ministry of the Interior and the Universidad del Salvador and the Fellowships Department of the OAS. Approximately twenty-one MERCOSUR Fellows participated, from Argentina, Brazil, Paraguay and Uruguay, as well as from the associate nations Bolivia and Chile. The participants had the opportunity to study analytically and exchange information on their experiences in the processes of decentralization and citizen participation which are developing in their countries.
  • Regional Course for the Andean Region: "Democracy and Transforming Conflicts." This course was presented from September 13 - 23, 1999, in Santafé de Bogotá, Colombia, and organized jointly with Universidad Javeriana, the Colombian Institute of Educational Credit and Foreign Technical Studies (ICETEX) and the Fellowships Department of the OAS. The principal objective of the course was to sensitize participants to the relevance and importance of developing instruments and strategies for peaceful conflict resolution. Thirty-five representatives participated in the course, coming from the national and local level public sectors, the media, higher education, and civil society organizations from the Andean Region and Chile.
  • Regional Course for Central America: "Legislative Power in Democracy and Integration." This course took place September 19-29, 1999 in Sololá, Guatemala, and was jointly organized with the Central American Parliament (PARLACEN) and Rafael Landívar University, under the auspices of the Congress of the Republic of Guatemala. Thirty-five young leaders participated, coming from civil society organizations, universities, the media, and political parties of the Central American region and the Dominican Republic. The objectives of this course were similar to those outlined above for the MERCOSUR course. An additional objective was that of bringing about a rapprochement, sharing of experiences and joint reflection amongst young people in the region on the question of democracy and the legislative branch.
  • 2nd Regional Course for Young Leaders of the Central American Region: "Democratic Institutions, Values and Practices". This course took place from September 18-28 in Guatemala City, Guatemala, and was organized jointly by the UPD, the Central American Institute for Political Studies (INCEP) and the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, Center for Advisory Services and Electoral Promotion (IIDH/CAPEL). Forty-five young leaders participated from various political parties, the media, universities and civil society organizations of Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. The course covered the following themes: Theory of Democracy and the Challenges of the Region; Democracy and its Institutions; Political Actors; Democratic Values and Practices for a Democratic Culture; and Instruments for Managing Political Democracy.
  • 2nd Regional Course for Young Leaders of the Andean Region: "Democratic Institutions, Values and Practices". This course occurred from October 18-28, 1999 in Santa Fe de Bogotá, Colombia, and was organized jointly with the Luis Carlos Galán Institute for the Development of Democracy under the auspices of the Andres Bello Center. Thirty-three young leaders participated, representing civil society organizations, universities, the media and the political parties of Venezuela, Ecuador, Bolivia, Perú and Colombia.
  • 2nd Regional Course for Young Leaders of MERCOSUR: Democratic Institutions, Values and Practices. This course took place November 7-17, 1999 in Asunción, Paraguay, and was organized jointly with Paraguay's Vice-Ministry of Youth. The Konrad Adenauer Foundation, the Argentine Institute of Training and Formation of Political Leaders, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), and the Catholic University of Paraguay also supported the event. Thirty-three youths participated, from political parties, the media, universities and the social sectors of the nations of Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay and Uruguay.
  • Workshop on Legislative Drafting for the Caribbean. This workshop took place in Barbados from February 7 to 11, 2000, with the support of the Government of Barbados and in collaboration with the Law Faculty of the University of the West Indies, Cave Hill campus. This intensive training workshop, which concentrated both on theoretical concepts and practical exercises in legislative drafting, was designed for mid- and senior-level professionals from the Attorney Generals' or Justice Ministries of the participating member states, and was attended by individuals representing ten member states of the English-speaking Caribbean.

Partnership and Cooperation: Programs to Modernize Democratic Institutions

To support the process of strengthening democratic institutions, the UPD has responded to various invitations of member states to provide assistance in modernizing electoral systems, civil registries and national legislatures. The work with legislatures responds to the growing recognition in the hemisphere of the critical role of the legislative branch in a democracy, and the need therefore to have parliaments with the capacity to effectively exercise their legislative functions and to represent the diverse interests of the citizenry. In this field, the UPD is providing technical assistance and advisory services to various national legislatures in the hemisphere, as well as to regional parliamentary groupings.

With respect to the holding of periodic democratic elections, one of the cornerstones of the democratic system, among the requests that are most frequently received to help strengthen electoral systems are those related to upgrading the computerization of voting records and computerizing the records of vital statistics that are contained in the civil registries, which are the basis for the electoral register. At present, such registries projects are underway or have been completed in nine of the OAS member states. The computerizing of records contributes to the consolidation of democracy by helping to ensure that electoral records are accurate and easy to access. In the area of civil registries, vital statistics are made more accessible to citizens–especially the poor–by dramatically reducing the time required to issue certificates and other essential documents and significantly lowering the costs and time to obtain them.

The following list details some of the technical assistance programs in which the UPD is involved and its activities during the period under consideration:

  • Juridical Support for the Congress of Guatemala. This initiative consists of the participation of five experts in a technical assistance program in support of the Presidency, the Vice Presidency and the legislative commissions of the Congress, in order to write the Peace Accords into law. The program is executed with financing from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).
  • Support for the Legislative Assembly of El Salvador, the Congress of Honduras, Dominican Republic, and Ecuador. The assistance of the UPD to the above-mentioned institutions, in general terms, consists of providing supervision and advisory services for the development and implementation of the modernization plans of these national parliaments. This assistance focuses particularly on the modernization of the administrative, legislative management and information system aspects of these legislatures. Various activities undertaken are done in coordination with the IDB and other cooperating institutions.
  • Support for the Forum of Presidents of the Legislative Bodies of Central America (FOPREL). UPD's assistance consists of coordination, supervision and advisory services to support the work of the Presidency, the Executive Secretariat and the Central American inter-parliamentary commissions of FOPREL (e.g., of Anti-Corruption y Narcotics Activity (CICONA), and of Legislative Modernization). This support includes research, seminars, publications and development of the Legislative Information Network for Central America and the Dominican Republic (RILCA).
  • Support for the Andean Parliament. The UPD provides coordination, supervision and advisory services for the development and implementation of a work plan that includes research, seminars, publications and development of the Andean Legislative Information Network (RAIL).
  • Support for the Joint Parliamentary Commission of MERCOSUR (CPC). Includes research, workshops, publications and development and the presentation of the Prototype of the Inter-parliamentary Network of Legislative Information (RIIL).
  • Electoral Tribunals of Bolivia, Paraguay, El Salvador, Ecuador, Panama, and Guatemala. Programs have been developed and have continued with these electoral tribunals. Types of assistance include automatization of electoral procedures, training of electoral officials, and administrative information systems. Each project in this area was undertaken at the invitation of the member states' governments.
  • Strengthening Electoral and Civil Registries in Ecuador, Paraguay, El Salvador, Honduras, Guatemala, Belize, Grenada, Saint Lucia and St. Vincent and the Grenadines. These programs focus on automating electoral registries to ensure ease and efficiency of the voting process, as well as implementing information applications and training officials in their use. Further activities include work on birth and death registries and certification, emergency planning, and document recovery.

In addition, the UPD is working closely with the governments of Guatemala and Saint Lucia to provide technical expertise in the redrawing of the boundaries of electoral districts.

Strengthening Democracy:

Support of the dialogue process in Ecuador

President Gustavo Noboa requested the support of the Secretary General of the OAS, through the UPD, for a process to consolidate democracy in Ecuador through dialogue and the search for national consensus on key issues. The request was made during an official visit to Ecuador by the Secretary General.

Electoral Observation Missions (EOMs)

The OAS General Secretariat's Electoral Observation Missions (EOMs) are one of the most important instruments available to the Organization to help in strengthening democracies, through their role in supporting the holding of transparent and credible elections. Since 1990, the OAS, through the UPD, has observed approximately 50 elections in almost half of its member states. During 1999 and part of 2000, electoral observation missions were sent to the following countries:

    • Grenada, parliamentary elections, January 18, 1999
    • Panama, general/legislative elections, May 2, 1999
    • Guatemala, constitutional referendum, May 16, 1999
    • Venezuela, national constituent assembly representatives, July 25, 1999
    • Guatemala; general elections, November 7, 1999
    • Guatemala, presidential elections, second round, December 26, 1999
    • Venezuela, constitutional referendum, December 15, 1999
    • Peru, general elections, April 9, 2000
    • Dominican Republic, presidential elections, May 16, 2000
    • Haiti, first round legislative/municipal/local elections, May 21, 2000
    • Suriname, parliamentary/regional/local elections, May 25,2000
    • Venezuela, general elections, May 28, 2000.
    • Peru, presidential elections (second round) May 28, 2000

Network of Parliamentarians of the Americas

The Conference of Presidents of Foreign Ministries or the Equivalent Body of the Parliaments or Congresses of the Member States has its origin in the mandate of the General Assembly contained in the resolution AG/RES.1673 (XXIX-O/99), emitted during its twenty ninth ordinary period of sessions. This agreement resolved: "To sponsor a meeting to be held during the first quarter of 2000 of the chairs of the foreign affairs committees or equivalent bodies of the national congresses or parliaments of the OAS member states, the purpose of which shall be to further the development of inter-parliamentary dialogue in addressing issues on the hemispheric agenda, bearing in mind the idea of establishing a forum for this purpose."

The Permanent Council, in its session of July 23, 1999, presented the topic to the Juridical and Political Affairs Commission for consideration. That body, during its sessions of October 12 and December 2, 1999, considered the issue, agreeing to set the dates of March 29 and 30, 2000, to hold the meeting in the Organization's headquarters, commending the preparation of basic documentation to the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy.

Fifty-seven parliamentarians representing thirty OAS member nations participated in the meeting, which was held on the aforementioned date. During the meeting the legislators discussed topics such as the role of the legislative branch in addressing issues of the inter-American agenda, as well as different structural models, functions and objectives of the Forum.

The meeting concluded with a broad consensus on the importance and necessity of creating an Inter-parliamentary Forum of the Americas (FIPA). The representatives agreed to organize a meeting which would be called "Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas", to be held in Canada just prior to the April 2001 Quebec City Summit. Among other issues to be considered at the next inter-Parliamentary meeting will be the possibility of linking the Forum with the Organization.

 

HUMAN RIGHTS

During the celebration of the thirtieth anniversary of the American Convention on Human Rights, the "Pact of San José", and the twentieth anniversary of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and government representatives set up an ad hoc working group on human rights. This group held its first meeting in San José, Costa Rica, on February 10 and 11, 2000, and produced a series of recommendations relating chiefly to the full participation of the member states and to the role of the political organs in the inter-American system of human rights, as well as on the adjustment of procedural aspects in the work of the Commission and the Court.

The working group made recommendations in the following areas:

1. Financing.

2. The full entry of all the member states as members of the inter-American system of conventions on human rights.

3. Promotion of human rights and of national measures to apply international human rights law.

4. The role of political organs as guarantors of the functioning of the system and in particular of compliance with the decisions of the inter-American system of human rights.

5. Matching of procedural aspects in the work of the Commission and the Court.

Dialogue on the Inter-American Human Rights Promotion and Protection System:

In accordance with General Assembly mandates, the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP), under the Chairmanship of the Permanent Representative of Mexico, Ambassador Claude Heller, led a broad dialogue form September 1999 to May 2000 on the Inter-American Human Rights Promotion and Protection system with the participation of Member States, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and representatives of non-governmental organization. The Chairman presented a Report reflecting the views and positions of participants in the Dialogue regarding the problems and obstacles facing the Inter-American System, as well as his conclusions:

The dialogue on the Inter-American system of Human Rights taking place within the Commission on Juridical and Political Affairs, has produced important results. Among other things, it has shown that the best and most feasible way of perfecting and strengthening the system, is through a gradual, consensual and transparent dialogue which is impartial and inclusive. Efforts made in this regard constitute an significant step to in creating an environment of confidence and openness which is indispensable for identifying and implementing the measures and actions necessary to guarantee human rights in the Hemisphere.

The agreements reached in the course of the dialogue are reflected in the draft resolution approved by the Permanent Council for consideration of the 30th General Assembly. It contains a series of recommendations addressed to Member States, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, regarding the universality of the system, the need for substantial increases in budgetary allocations for the two bodies, the role of the political organs of the OAS as guarantors of the decisions of the system, and compliance with decisions of the system. The resolution also contains specific recommendations regarding procedural issues applied by both the Court and the Commission in dealing with contentious cases, and instructs the Permanent Council to continue the Dialogue on a permanent basis.

 

CIVIL SOCIETY

In order to establish mechanisms to facilitate participation by civil society in the activities of the Organization, in June 1999 the General Assembly decided to create a committee of the Permanent Council, called the Committee of the Permanent Council on Civil Society Participation in OAS Activities (CCSP). This committee’s tasks include drafting rules to govern civil society participation in the activities of the OAS in accordance with the intergovernmental nature of the Organization and the terms of its Charter. The Secretariat is supporting the Committee through a webpage, http://www.civil-society.oas.org, which also serves as a source of information for civil society and the public at large.

On September 21, 1999, a first working document, entitled "Guidelines for Participation by Civil Society organizations in OAS Activities," was submitted to the Committee. On December 15, 1999, the Permanent Council approved the guidelines which allow registered civil society organizations (CSOs) to designate representatives to attend public meetings of the Permanent Council and other political bodies of the OAS, as well as to receive and distribute documents to those bodies. On May 1st, 2000, the CCSP approved the requests of the fourth first CSOs to be accredited to the OAS.

The Office of Summit Follow-up has been given responsibility to implement and execute the guidelines approved by the Permanent Council in December 1999 that are within the purview of the General Secretariat. These functions include supporting the Committee on Civil Society Participation in OAS Activities as its Technical Secretariat, in addition to administering and processing applications from CSO’s. The Offices of the General Secretariat in the member states will work with the Office of Summit Follow-up to facilitate and disseminate information on OAS activities for civil society organizations.

The Special Committee on Inter-American Summit Management, chaired by Ambassador Peter Boehm, held a meeting October 12, 1999 involving the participation of civil society experts. The meeting was held to assess progress on the implementation of the Summit mandates on women, strengthening municipal and regional administrations, fostering the development of micro, small and medium size enterprises, building confidence and security among states, regional energy cooperation, and science and technology. A similar meeting involving civil society representatives was held on February 18, 2000 to assess progress on the implementation of these additional Summit mandates: democracy and human rights, property registration, indigenous populations, migrant workers, and strengthening financial markets. Both of the meetings were broadcast live over the Internet in order to secure the broadest possible audience from across the hemisphere. For each subject area, international organizations and experts from different sectors made presentations. The purpose of the meetings was to exchange ideas between civil society and government representatives in order to build a comprehensive combined effort to implement the mandates in question.

Inter-American Strategy for the Promotion of Public Participation in Decision-Making for Sustainable Development

In November 1997, the Unit for Sustainable and Environment (USDE) began coordinating the formulation of the Inter-American Strategy for the Promotion of Public Participation in Decision-Making for Sustainable Development (ISP). The ISP, funded by the OAS, GEF/UNEP, USAID and UNESCO, was itself a successful model of a forum for government/civil society cooperation and of an interagency partnership. This formulation effort culminated on April 14, 2000, when the Inter-American Council for Integral Development approved the ISP Policy Framework and the annexed Recommendations for Action, which contain principles, recommendations and examples to promote public participation in sustainable development throughout the hemisphere. At the behest of the OAS member states, the USDE is currently undertaking the design and execution of an ISP implementation support program. For more information, see the ISP website: www.ispnet.org.

 

MIGRANT WORKERS

Helping to ensure that the rights of migrant workers and their families will be better protected, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) and the International Migration Organization (IMO) signed an agreement on March 22, 2000 at the OAS headquarters in Washington D.C. Under the terms of the agreement, the IACHR and the IMO will work on joint endeavors to promote respect for and effective promotion of human rights for migrants in the Americas.

In the Santiago Plan of Action the Member States agreed to "seek full respect for, and compliance with, the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, especially as it relates to the right of nationals, regardless of their immigration status, to communicate with a consular officer of their own State in case of detention". In this regard, it is important to highlight advisory opinion OC-16/99 issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on October 1, 1999, in which a number of individual rights under the Convention were clarified.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has requested that the Temporary Secretariat of the Regional Conference on Migrations (the "Puebla Group" or the "Puebla Process") grant the Commission observer status in order for it to learn more about this important regional forum on migrations.

Symposium on International Migration in Latin American and Caribbean

The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), with the backing of the Latin American Demographic Center (CELADE- Population Division) and the International Migration Organization (IMO) are organizing a "Symposium on International Migration in Latin American and Caribbean" which will take place in San José, Costa Rica, September 4 to 6, 2000. This event is also sponsored by the United Nations Population Fund (UNPF) and the OAS.

The Symposium will bring together decision makers, experts, international agencies, non-governmental and other civil society organizations, allowing them to interact and exchange concerns and experiences related to international migration in the Hemisphere. Some of the results expected from the Symposium include:

  • To increase information and knowledge about the tendencies and patterns of international migration in the region.
  • To explore interrelation between international migration and development including the impact of globalization and the introduction of new technologies.
  • To analyze the economic, political, and social consequences of migration on migrants and on countries of origin and destination.
  • To analyze and evaluate current initiatives on multilateral migratory diplomacy established with the intention to give order to the migration flows and to promote international co-operation on the issue.

STENGTHENING MUNICIPAL AND REGIONAL ADMINISTRATIONS

The UPD Program of Cooperation in Decentralization, Local Government, and Citizen Participation

The UPD Program of Cooperation simultaneously focuses on the "Strengthening Regional and Municipal Administrations" and the "Civil Society" mandates of the Santiago Summit, the latter of which, among other things, calls for the OAS to serve as a forum for the exchange of experiences and information on civil society participation. Experience in the member states has pointed to the particular potential of the sub-national levels of government for promoting and strengthening public sector-civil society dialogue and civil society participation in decision-making on public policy issues.

The UPD Program of Cooperation was based on the Summit mandates and preparatory seminars and conferences held in 1997, as well as ongoing consultations. The UPD Program of Cooperation in Decentralization, Local Government and Citizen Participation aims at :

    • Contributing to policy debate and serving as a forum for creation, dissemination an exchange of knowledge and information;
    • Supporting institution-building in central, local government, and civil society, principally through "horizontal cooperation" approaches among countries of the region;
    • Enhancing local governance through promoting increased citizen access and participation in public policy issues at the local level;
    • Collaborating with other agencies and institutions with mandates in the areas of the Program.

The program is organized sub-regionally, and activities are undertaken with CARICOM; Central America and the Dominican Republic, the South American block, incorporating States of the Andean Community and the Southern Cone. The UPD has found that the sub-regional approach facilitates information exchanges and the creation and dissemination of specialized knowledge, as well as the formation of sub-regional networks of technical and resource personnel working on these issues.

Within the sub-regional frameworks, program objectives are achieved through seminars and experts’ meetings, training workshops and short-term courses and applied research, and information dissemination. Networks of experts formed under the Program are supported by a specialized Internet website, incorporating documentation from the Program’s meetings and other activities, providing links to other resource institutions, and encouraging contact and dialogue.

The following six basic program areas were targeted by the Caracas Seminar in May 1997 for analysis and cooperative action:

    • Legal and regulatory frameworks
    • Institutional development
    • Relations between central and local government authorities
    • Relations between legislatures and local authorities
    • Aspects of economic and social development relating to local governance
    • Information systems to support decentralization, local government and citizen participation.

All program activities are planned and implemented in collaboration with agencies and institutions in member states and in 1999 the Program aimed at deepening dialogue and examining the thematic areas identified by the first round of sub-regional meetings held in 1998. Activities for 1999 included:

    • In Central America, a meeting of experts on "Facilitation of Municipal Training and Technical Assistance" was held in Roatan, Honduras from March 4-6, 1999, with the support of the Government of Honduras, and in collaboration with the Federation of Central American Municipalities (FEMICA)
    • With regard to the Caribbean, the final report of the 1998 meeting on "Local Government, Communitarianism and the Citizen" for the states of CARICOM was published. The research presented in this publication and the meeting’s policy discussions constituted a significant contribution to the very small stock of information available on Caribbean local governance, This, together with contacts made through its distribution among international agencies, has led to two partnerships with other agencies for activities on local governance and participation in the Caribbean. These activities (seminar and training course) are to be executed in 2000.
    • In the Andean Community and Southern Cone, the second seminar on "Frameworks and Policies for Citizen Participation at the Municipal Level" was held in collaboration with the Government of Argentina in Buenos Aires, May 17-19, 1999.
    • Also at the request of the Government of Ecuador and the Andean Parliament, the project "Decentralization and Citizen Participation in Local Government" was initiated in the Andean Community in the final quarter of 1999.

The UPD, in collaboration with the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) will host a sub-regional forum in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on May 16-17, 2000, entitled "Effective Local Governance: Innovative Approaches to Improving Municipal Management". The objective of this forum is to build on and deepen the exchanges of a workshop that was held in Kingston, Jamaica, on June 8-9, 1998, which focused on developing policies and effective strategies for dealing with decentralization and the promotion of participation at the municipal/community level. At the present meeting, three critical areas will be addressed through in-depth dialogue and analysis of specific experiences by policy-makers, local officials, and civil society organizations in the CARICOM countries. The specific issues to be discussed include all of the following:

    • Local governance and economic development;
    • Effective strategies for citizen participation at the local/community level;
    • Municipal associations and effective local governance.

In the Caribbean, consultations are in progress for an activity related to enhancing citizen participation at the local level in the member states of the Caribbean. In addition, UPD has been approached by two institutions for collaboration on activities in the Caribbean: a training course on decentralization and participation policy (University Madre y Maestre in the Dominican Republic) and a meeting on exchanges of experiences in community participation (International City/County Management Association, ICMA), based in Washington, D.C.

The training component of the Program of Cooperation was developed in 1999 through two intensive short-term courses supported by a) the Government of Colombia (for the Andean Region) and b) by Argentina (for Mercosur and Associated States). These short-term courses were held in collaboration with the OAS Department of Fellowships. They were designed according to a participatory methodology focussing on theory and practice of decentralization, local governance and participation, and the relationship of these to democratic consolidation. This training brought together the main actors in these processes for dialogue, exchange of experiences and networking with their sub-regional peers. These pilot experiences were received enthusiastically, evaluated through a methodology incorporating recommendations from course participants, and the content is being refined for training to be conducted in Colombia, Central America and the Caribbean in 2000.

The program’s Website was posted on the UPD home page in May of 1999, and is being developed to meet expressed needs, including links with other institutions. Also being developed is a data bank of technical resource personnel in decentralization, local government and participation, and research and results of activities implemented to date are to be published.

In 1999 the Unit developed its contacts with other institutions with mandates in the areas of the Program of Cooperation. An interesting development was the formation of the "International Forum for Cooperation on Local Government in Latin America and the Caribbean". This forum, convened by the IDB, with the International City/County Management Association of the US serving as technical secretariat, comprises a broad group of agencies and countries active in the issue of local government. Following consultations and a decision in principle to establish such a forum during the annual meeting of the IDB in Paris in March 1999, a technical meeting took place in Washington, D.C. in June 1999 at which agencies shared information on programs being implemented and identified key areas such as training and capacity building, Website, continued information exchanges and possible joint activities. The UPD participated in the meeting and intends to remain an active member of this Forum which aims at effective coordination among agencies for the benefit of the decentralization process and strengthening of local government.

The UPD will also sponsor comparative research and the publication of papers on legislation in this field. Furthermore, the UPD is working with the Government of Bolivia on the creation of a "Permanent Forum on Citizen Participation at the Municipal Level," which will be composed of representatives of countries interested in this issue.

With respect to others initiatives relating to the mandate on Municipal and Regional Administrations, the increasing importance of decentralization and participation by civil society as public policy issues has led to a number of important international meetings and activities on these topics, such as the annual Inter-American Mayors’ conferences. The next meeting will be in June 2000 in Miami.

CORRUPTION

Department of Legal Cooperation and Public Information

The OAS Department of Legal Cooperation held a workshop to disseminate and incorporate into domestic law the Inter-American Convention against Corruption in Colombia, Costa Rica, and Venezuela. The general aim of this event was to publicize the nature, content, and scope of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption through national workshops intended to promote greater awareness of the Convention’s principles in the participating countries. The objective was also to assist in the promotion of government efforts to ratify and implement, in their internal law, the norms and principles of the Convention according to the constitutional guidelines and dispositions of the national legislation. The workshop created a forum for discussion and analysis of the scope of their disposition and the possibilities, methods and alternatives for implementation.

The OAS and the Inter-American Development Bank signed a cooperation agreement on April 6-7, 2000. This agreement led to the OAS/IDB project The State of Criminal Legislation vis-à-vis the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, which will support twelve OAS member countries in incorporating the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption into their domestic legislation, in particular as regards the provisions of criminal law. The initiative will be carried out through technical investigations to analyze the state of criminal law vis-à-vis the terms of the Convention that will then be disseminated and enhanced at workshops organized for that purpose. The OAS portion was financed by the United States/CIDI specific fund. Organizations representing civil society will be invited to participate, both during the implementation of this project and in its follow-up, which will result in the creation of an Exchange Network for information and cooperation that could, in turn, promote a broader debate on the issue.

At the request of the Working Group on Probity and Public Ethics, the Department of Legal Cooperation prepared a questionnaire on "Ratification and implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Corruption." The Questionnaire is intended to collect information not only from countries that have signed and ratified the Convention, but also from all member states. The Questionnaire was disseminated in March 2000 and the information gathered will support the Working Group’s efforts to strengthen cooperation and identify gaps in anti-corruption implementation.

The Inter-American Network of Institutions and Experts in the Struggle Against Corruption is a response to an initiative stemming from the Symposium on Enhancing Probity in the Hemisphere which was held in Santiago, Chile, in November of 1998. The Network aims to promote greater exchanges of information and experiences to further cooperation and coordinate hemispheric actions in the struggle against corruption. The Network, which is still being fine-tuned and expanded, already involves 56 public institutions and civil society organizations from 19 of the Organization’s member states.

The Anti-Corruption Information System was created to serve as an information service on issues related to the struggle against corruption. It can be accessed through the Department’s webpage.

Working Group on Probity and Public Ethics

The twenty-ninth regular session of the OAS General Assembly adopted a resolution to re-initiate the activities of the Working Group on Probity and Civic Ethics of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs. This Working Group will follow up on the Inter-American Program for Cooperation in the Fight against Corruption and on the recommendations of the Symposium on Enhancing Probity in the Hemisphere.

On January 24, 2000, the Working Group held a meeting in which it considered three main subjects:

  1. The Report of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs (Department of International Law) on the anti-corruption work of the Inter-American Juridical Committee,
  2. The Report of the Secretariat of Legal Affairs (Department of Legal Cooperation and Public Information) on the execution of anti-corruption projects, particularly in relation to the OAS/IDB agreement, and
  3. Commencement of the proceedings of the special session of the Working Group on the Enhancement of Probity and the Fight against Corruption in the Hemisphere. Regarding the Report of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs (Department of Legal Cooperation and Public Information) on execution of the OAS/IDB anti-corruption project, it was proposed that projects be carried out in four specific areas:
    • Support for enforcement of the Convention,
    • Legislative modernization and institutional development,
    • Information systems and the Inter-American network, and
    • Investigative journalism.

In addition, a variety of recommendations were made for the work of the Working Group on the Enhancement of Probity and the Fight against Corruption in the Hemisphere. Noteworthy among these recommendations is the following:

"The member states of the OAS should promptly sign, ratify, and implement and execute the Convention and, in addition, are urged to develop programs that raise public awareness of the impact of corruption and the participation of public society and the private sector in the promotion of probity and public ethics."

On March 31, 2000, the Working Group held a special session on "The Enhancement of Probity and the Fight against Corruption in the Americas" in which it examined cooperation in the war on corruption and implementation of the Inter-American Program for Cooperation in the Fight against Corruption. It should be noted that representatives of governments, international agencies, the private sector, and civil society attended this meeting. The international agencies spoke about their operations, projects, and experiences in the implementation of mechanisms for monitoring international anti-corruption commitments. The representatives of the private sector referred to commitments and proposals in matters of probity and to the effects of corruption in trade and investment. The representatives of civil society described their role in the promotion of probity and civic ethics.

The Trust for the Americas

The Trust for the Americas recently sponsored in Costa Rica the Central American Conference on Anti-Corruption: The Role of the Media, the first of a series of regional events across Latin America to undertake a joint and equal struggle against corruption. These events are the result of the mandates handed down by the Hemisphere’s leaders at the Second Summit of the Americas, in which press freedoms and fighting corruption were identified as hemispheric priorities in two separate mandates.

This two-day conference which took place in San José (April 7-8, 2000) was attended by journalists, government officials, corporations, civil society organizations and multilateral organizations. Working panels explored the social and environmental impacts of corruption as well as the role of a transparent procurement process in fighting corruption from the perspectives of the media, civil society, private sector, and government. This event examined key institutional reforms undertaken in the different sub-regions, thus providing information on practices and viewpoints regarding the decision-making process in the war on corruption. This initiative was followed by two weeks of intensive training for investigative journalists who specialize in covering corruption and government issues.

PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF ILLICIT CONSUMPTION OF AND TRAFFIC IN DRUGS AND PSYCHOTROPIC SUBSTANCES AND OTHER RELATED CRIMES

Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (MEM)

When the Heads of State and Government met at the Second Summit in April 1998, they mandated the creation of a Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism ("MEM") to serve in the fight against illicit drug trafficking and production. Based on this, the twenty-third regular meeting of CICAD, held in May 1998, formed an Intergovernmental Working Group to put into place a multilateral evaluation mechanism. At the Twenty-Sixth Regular Session of CICAD held in Montevideo, Uruguay in October, 1999, and the following six meetings of the Intergovernmental Working Group over the course of 1998 and 1999, the member countries of CICAD approved the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism. A description of the final process and the steps already completed follows.

Countries to be evaluated provided data in response to a standard questionnaire, also approved at CICAD's Twenty-Sixth Regular Session. The Intergovernmental Working Group for the MEM received feedback from each of the 34 member countries on the evaluation questionnaires sent out in October 1999. Each country also presented a document prepared by its government on the situation of the country’s drug problem. This document illustrated achievements made by the country, as well as the difficulties it faces and areas in which cooperation should be strengthened.

The indicators designed for the questionnaire are divided into five main categories: National Plans and Strategies; Prevention and Treatment; Reduction of Drug Production; Law Enforcement Measures; and the Cost of the Drug Problem. These indicators should serve as tools for measuring national and hemispheric efforts and results to combat illicit drug use, production, and trafficking. They can provide feedback on how nations are meeting goals in a wide range of areas, including the development of anti-drug strategies and national plans, drug seizure operations, the creation of prevention and rehabilitation programs, reductions in illicit crop production, diversion of precursor chemicals, prevention of money laundering and arms trafficking, among others.

The member states decided that the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism will be applicable to all states, individually and collectively; that it will be governmental, singular and objective, with the participation of specialized representatives of the governments; that it will be transparent, impartial, and equitable so as to ensure objective evaluation; and that it will ensure full, timely participation by the states, based on generally applied norms and procedures, established by mutual agreement in advance, in order to ensure an equitable evaluation process. The countries also agreed that the MEM will not contain sanctions of any nature and that it will respect the confidentiality of deliberations and information administered by the states.

The member states committed themselves to support the successful conduct and completion of the first evaluation exercise in 2000. This is being carried out by a Governmental Experts’ Group (GEG) made up of experts from all 34 member states who will use the results of the questionnaires, and the summary documents presented by each government to carry out evaluations on a country-by-country basis. Final evaluation drafts will be submitted to the Commission for consideration and approval at its October 2000 meeting. The GEG is responsible for the 34 individual multilateral evaluations and the hemispheric report, together with recommendations on how to strengthen cooperation and the capacity of States to address the drug problem as well as to stimulate technical assistance and training programs as part of overall anti-drug efforts.

On April 10-14, 2000, the Governmental Experts’ Group met for the first time in a planning seminar to begin the initial steps of their work process. At this organizational meeting, each of the 34 delegated experts had the opportunity to meet and determine the best method to proceed, and began drafting the first preliminary reports. Then, the Group will reconvene between June 12-30, 2000, for the First Plenary Session to write the first Multilateral Evaluation Reports for 2000. Three more meetings are scheduled for the Fall of 2000 and the Executive Secretariat of CICAD will provide the necessary support for the Governmental Experts’ Group to ensure completion of the first evaluation exercise in December 2000. The Final Hemispheric Report is tentatively planned to be presented at the Summit of the Americas, to be held in Quebec City, Canada, in 2001.

Update on CICAD Activities in Relation to Firearms

The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission's Model Regulations for the Control of International Movements of Firearms, their Parts and Components and Ammunition were approved by the Commission in October 1997 and subsequently adopted by the OAS General Assembly in June, 1998.

Following their adoption by the General Assembly, CICAD, in coordination with the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace, Disarmament and Development in Latin America and the Caribbean (UN-LiREC) agreed to the convening of two awareness-building seminars. The purpose of the seminars is to bring together senior policy and operational officials responsible for the control of firearms exportation, importation and transshipment to exchange views concerning the application of the Model Regulations in their countries and the degree of their compatibility with national measures in place and to determine what measures, if any, would be required for the regulations to be applied.

A first seminar was held in November 1999 for all of the countries of South America in Lima, Peru. A second seminar for the countries of Central America and the Caribbean will be held May 23 – 24, 2000 in Fort de France, Martinique, again in coordination with UN-LiREC, and in coordination with the government of France’s Inter-Departmental Anti-Drug Training Centre (CIFAD).

CICAD has also developed a training proposal to apply the model regulations involving five or six training seminars over an eighteen-month period for line officers and their senior operational officials in the area of firearms control from CICAD member countries. The training will demonstrate to the officers working on the ground the measures contained in the Model Regulations for monitoring, controlling and effecting international cooperation over the movements of firearms, their parts, components and ammunition and thereby reduce the degree of diversion from licit to illicit trafficking.

It should be noted that the project also proposes to provide technical assistance to countries that request it if necessary, to help to put into effect the necessary legislative and regulatory measures and suggest appropriate administrative structures as may be required to make the system operational.

Consultative Committee of the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials

The Consultative Committee of the Inter-American Convention Against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials held its first regular session at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Washington on March 9 and 10, 2000. At the opening of its proceedings the Secretary General of the OAS urged the states that had not yet done so to ratify that Convention. Later, the Ambassador of Mexico Claude Heller, having been elected Secretary pro tempore of the Advisory Committee, said that "the first order of business of this meeting will be to contribute to promotion of the ratification of this significant instrument of inter-American cooperation." In the two-day meeting the delegates approved the Advisory Committee’s rules of procedure and program of work and, following a general discussion of the subject, considered a project for training in firearms control for government officials which had been submitted to the states parties by the Executive Secretariat of CICAD. The Secretariat pro tempore will conduct the requisite consultations to set the date of the next meeting.

 

TERRORISM

In compliance with the Plan of Action on Hemispheric Cooperation to Prevent, Combat, and Eliminate Terrorism, adopted at the First Inter-American Specialized Conference on Terrorism (Lima, 1996), and in accordance with the creation, within the OAS, of a body to specialize in the study and prevention of terrorism that was proposed at the Second Specialized Conference on Terrorism (Mar de Plata, Argentina; November 1998), the twenty-ninth regular session of the General Assembly resolved to create and approve the statutes of the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE).

CICTE held its first regular meeting in Miami, Florida, on October 28-29, 1999. At the meeting, the OAS member states adopted a set of regulations to govern the Committee’s operations. The countries also adopted a Working Plan instructing the General Secretariat to undertake a wide range of activities, the most important of which are described below.

As regards documentation, the General Secretariat prepared a directory of the competent anti-terrorist authorities in the member states. It gathered together the bilateral, sub-regional, regional, and multilateral agreements regarding terrorism entered into by the member states, together with the regulations and laws for preventing, combating, and eliminating terrorism in force in those countries.

The Secretariat also evaluated the mechanisms for enforcing the provisions of international law set forth in the conventions in force for the member states, and it prepared an analytical study of all applicable legal cooperation provisions with a view toward strengthening them.

Regarding the formulation and implementation of technical assistance programs for the member states, the General Secretariat will establish contacts with other international agencies with experience in this field in order to prepare a report. It will also identify programs managed by other competent international organizations and will design programs to be carried out by the member states or by international agencies with experience in security matters at airports, ports, diplomatic premises, etc.

In designing and implementing cooperation mechanisms, the General Secretariat will undertake a number of activities, which include the following:

    • It will compile the bilateral and multilateral agreements for detecting false identity papers in force in the member states.
    • It will organize workshops and training courses on priority issues, including cooperation among immigration authorities, drawing up a hemispheric terrorism study, and strengthening inter-American cooperation.
    • It will design and develop an inter-American network for data collection and transmission, including the creation of an inter-American database on terrorism issues.
    • It will put into practice the guidelines for inter-American cooperation in the event of terrorist acts and activities (Annex II of the Mar del Plata Commitment) and the measures for eliminating the collection of funds for terrorism (Annex III of the Mar del Plata Commitment).
    • It will propose mechanisms for coordinating with other international agencies responsible for these areas.

The annual report of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE) was presented at the Permanent Council meeting on March 8, 2000. The report includes the proceedings of the first ordinary session of the Committee which took place on October 28 –29, 1999, as well as the rules of procedure, the list of participants, and the Working Plan outlined above.

 

CONFIDENCE- AND SECURITY- BUILDING AMONG STATES

Committee on Hemispheric Security (CSH)

In the Santiago Plan of Action, the Heads of State and Government instructed the OAS Committee on Hemispheric Security to: 1) Follow-up on and expand topics relating to confidence and security building measures; 2) analyze the meaning, scope, and implications of international security concepts in the Hemisphere, with a view to developing the most appropriate common approaches by which to manage their various aspects, including disarmament and arms control; and, 3) pinpoint ways to revitalize and strengthen the institutions of the Inter-American System related to the various aspects of Hemispheric Security.

Follow-up on Confidence and Security Building Measures

In order to accomplish the first task, the Committee on Hemispheric Security reviewed the progress made on implementing the initiatives for confidence and security building measures adopted in the Santiago and San Salvador Conferences. This was done at a meeting held February 25, 1999, at which the Chairs of the two Conferences in question participated. Exchanges of information through the Organization have continued, and a number of member states have submitted reports to the Committee on Hemispheric Security on the implementation measures they have taken. In addition, a meeting of experts was recently held in Cartagena, Colombia, on the issue of education for peace. The meeting produced an educational program, the objectives of which are to prevent conflicts, reduce violence, and promote peace–based on education provided to the Hemisphere’s youth.

In pursuit of its second task, the Committee held a meeting April 20-21, 1999, during which it redefined the concept of security and the nature of threats in the Hemisphere. The role of the OAS, of its General Secretariat, and of the Inter-American Defense Board were also discussed at the meeting as were the following issues: strengthening the Committee on Hemispheric Security; cooperation between member states to find quick solutions to problems and to threats to security; and the need to establish mechanisms which ensure long-term peace.

Analysis of Concepts of International Security

In order to stimulate regional dialogue and to promote an environment of confidence and security, a forum on the future of international security in the Hemisphere was held at OAS Headquarters in April 1999. The forum, organized by the Permanent Mission of Chile with support from the OAS General Secretariat and the Permanent Mission of the United States, brought together academics and diplomats and facilitated an exchange of ideas the objective of which was to unify the principal concepts and definitions of the security issue.

On March 20 and 21, 2000, the Committee held a special session, attended by experts and representatives of the member states, to examine the significance, scope and implications of the concepts of international security in the Hemisphere. This special session considered the common approaches best suited to address the different aspects of international security; studied the problems and risks for peace in the Hemisphere, and examined and evaluated the instruments bearing on peace and security, the institutions and processes of the Inter-American system, and the subregional security agreements, mechanisms, and processes.

To follow up on and further discussion of confidence and security building measures, the CSH held a meeting on March 31, 2000, of parliamentarians to monitor the agreements of the Second Regional Conference, held in San Salvador in 1998, and to review the extent to which confidence and security building measures, launched in 1995, have been implemented. In addition, on April 5, 2000, the Committee hosted a seminar for exchanges of experiences with other regional organizations, with the participation of the Disarmament Department of the United Nations, the OSCE and ASEAN. This seminar was followed on April 6, by a special session to evaluate and review the application of the confidence and security building measures adopted in the Declarations of Santiago and San Salvador with the participation of government experts.

In terms of the transparency of defense policies in the Hemisphere, a major accomplishment was made at the XXIX OAS General Assembly in Guatemala, in June 1999, where member states adopted the Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisitions. Twenty-four member states signed the convention in Guatemala which imposes mandatory reporting requirements on weapons acquisitions. With the Convention, the Hemisphere becomes the first region in the world to have such a mandatory agreement on the exchange of information on conventional weapons.

On the issue of cooperation in response to natural disasters and for humanitarian search and rescue operations, a significant achievement was also made at the Guatemala General Assembly when the member states adopted a resolution bringing the Organization’s response mechanisms up-to-date. Hurricanes George and Mitch, along with the earthquake in Colombia, made evident the need for this modernization, the result of which was the creation of an Inter-American Committee on Disasters.

By arranging meetings of this kind and preparing information documents the Committee on Hemispheric Security continues to move forward in its analysis of the different aspects of security in the Hemisphere and the reinforcement of confidence and security building measures in compliance with the mandates of the Plan of Action of the Santiago Summit.

Special Security Concerns of Small Island States in the Caribbean

At the hemispheric level, the OAS General Secretariat has adopted a number of measures in response to these special security concerns as they relate to economic matters, the environment and natural risks, the promotion of democracy, and cooperation for the eradication of illicit drug trafficking and abuse. These measures include the following:

    1. Economic matters: technical assistance has been provided by the OAS Trade Unit to the FTAA negotiating and consultative groups of countries with small economies and the Organization of Regional Seminars on matters related to FTAA for the officials of Caribbean Island States.
    2. Environment and natural risks: the OAS Unit for Sustainable Development and the Environment has implemented a series of technical assistance programs for the mitigation of natural risks and adaptation to world climate change, financed with external resources.
    3. Promotion of democracy: the Program of Support for Legislative Institutions and Processes, with the participation of the Bahamas, Dominica, Grenada, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Saint Lucia and Trinidad and Tobago; the program on the network of Legislative Leaders of the Americas and the program on the Promotion of Democratic Values and Practices. The OAS is also cooperating with the Secretariat of the Caribbean community (CARICOM) in the execution of the project on Education for Democracy in the States of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS).
    4. Cooperation in the eradication of illicit drug trafficking and abuse: technical assistance programs conducted by the Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission.

The Committee on Hemispheric Security held a Special Meeting on February 29, 2000, to discuss the special security concerns of the small island states. At this meeting the experts discussed the prospects of the smallest member states, whose economies are suffering severely from natural disasters. Delegates also reviewed how effective the OAS has been in promoting and developing the issue. The meeting further looked at the regional and subregional role organizations have played in strengthening security regionally and at the level of the small island states, as well as military cooperation among small island states.

Demining and the Western Hemisphere as an Anti-Personnel Mine-free Zone

Given the importance of an integrated and comprehensive response to the crisis caused by antipersonnel mines, as well as the need to provide real and lasting support to those who face ongoing risk, a new program area called "Comprehensive Action against Antipersonnel Mines" (AICMA) was created in the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy in 1998. This area is the focal point for the General Secretariat on this issue and covers the following topics, among others: (a) mine risk awareness education for the civilian population; (b) support for minefield surveying, mapping, marking, and clearance; (c) victim assistance, including physical and psychological rehabilitation and the socioeconomic reintegration of cleared zones; (d) support for a total ban on antipersonnel mines; and (e) establishment of databases on activities directed against antipersonnel mines.

Assistance Program for Demining in Central America (PADCA)

The Assistance Program for Demining in Central America was created by the Organization of American States in 1991, at the request of the Central American countries affected by antipersonnel mines. Since May 1995, responsibility for the general coordination and supervision of the Assistance Program for Demining in Central America (PADCA) has been assigned to the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy, with the technical support of the Inter-American Defense Board (IADB). The distinctive feature of PADCA, which is integrated into the new AICMA program, is that it is largely a humanitarian project, since it seeks to restore safe conditions and the confidence of citizens, to reduce the threat and danger posed by explosive devices and antipersonnel mines, and to restore the use of the lands dedicated to agriculture and livestock in the affected zones.

The successful work done and progress achieved by PADCA is, in large measure, due to the invaluable and generous support of member states: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Peru, Venezuela, and the United States, and the contribution of big international donors: Denmark, France, Great Britain, Holland, Japan, Norway, Russia, Spain, and Sweden, among others. Over the course of one year, these contributions have amounted to approximately $4.815 million.

The progress made in each PADCA-recipient country can be summarized as follows:

Costa Rica. Module VII operations are currently being carried out in the areas of Cutriz, Pocosol, and Las Tiricias, in Alajuela Province, on the northern border with Nicaragua. Demining and the removal of explosive devices have been carried out with the ongoing assistance of two international supervisors, forty-one sapper soldiers, and the support of canine techniques.

The Mine Risk Awareness Education Campaign for the Civilian Population has continued in the areas of Crucitas, Jocote, Las Tiricias, San Isidro, Pocosol, Medio Queso, and La Guaría, in Alajuela province.

Guatemala. In keeping with the National Plan for Demining and Destruction of Explosive Devices, operations aimed at identifying and destroying explosive devices in the area of Ixcán, Quiché Department were wrapped up, and because of this, demined lands were handed over for the first time by the local authorities to the community in January 2000.

At the moment, tracking and detection work in the area of the Ixil triangle is being carried out, which includes four municipalities in Quiché Department and covers 30 of the 129 suspicious zones included in the National Demining Plan.

Honduras. It is important to underscore the fact that antipersonnel mines have been cleared in the eastern area of Honduras, with these activities being concluded under module VII and covering the San Andrés de Bocay sector, in the municipality of Olancho Department. At the moment, the activities are being conducted in the southern zone of the country in the municipality of San Marcos de Colón in Choluteca Department, where 10 suspicious zones have been identified.

At the same time, assistance has been provided with the following activities: Clearance operations in a suspicious area in Naco, a municipality of Cortés Department in the northern region of Honduras. Work has continued on the "Mine Risk Awareness Education for the Civilian Population" campaign among the populations close to the zones of operation.

Nicaragua. Using funds provided by the Government of the United States of America and the United Kingdom, a new operations front composed of 100 sapper soldiers will be established. It will be located in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region (RAAN) of the Republic of Nicaragua. At the moment, the sapper soldiers who will belong to the new platoons are being trained. It should be emphasized that they will supplement the other two fronts that are supported by the international community, through the OAS, in the areas of Ocotal and Juigalpa.

At the moment, module IV operations, in Operations Front No. 3, located in Juigalpa, and module VIII operations, in Operations Front No. 4, in the Ocotal area, are being carried out.

Furthermore, at the request of ENEL (the Nicaraguan Electricity Company), the certification and handing over of demined high-tension towers in the territories of Chontales and Matagalpa have begun, in order to begin maintenance of transmission lines.

During the course of the year, the Mine Clearance Assistance Mission in Central America (MARMINCA) was transferred from Honduras to Nicaragua.

Also, the "Program for Care to Victims of Mines and Explosive Devices," which has existed in Nicaragua since 1997, was continued and will be strengthened in the year 2000, with the assistance of the Government of Sweden, in order to ensure monitoring of the rehabilitation services provided under the program.

Lastly, during the period covered by this report, the Mine Risk Awareness Education for the Civilian Population campaign has been strengthened through community visits and through a variety of national radio messages. AICMA also received a large shipment of posters showing the dangers of mines, which have been used to mark suspicious areas.

Peru and Ecuador: On the occasion of the visit of the Presidents of Ecuador and Peru to the OAS headquarters, the Secretary General offered the assistance and expertise of the OAS in the area of humanitarian demining.

By means of a joint note of March 18, 1999, the Governments of Ecuador and Peru, through their Permanent Missions to the Organization of American States, asked the Organization to establish a specific fund to support demining related to the demarcation of the border between Ecuador and Peru, using the funds provided by Canada for that purpose.

In this regard, the Organization started activities in this area with the establishment of a specific fund for the "Program for Demining Assistance in Ecuador/Peru," (PADEP), using a contribution from the Government of Canada of CAN$300,000 (USD$198,800.45) in April 1999. This contribution, which was divided equally, has been used exclusively for the purchase of equipment and materials for activities to support humanitarian demining associated with the demarcation of the border between Ecuador and Peru.

The U.S. Department of State invited the Organization of American States to participate in a multi-disciplinary mission to Ecuador and Peru. This mission was conducted August 16-20, 1999, in order to evaluate the antipersonnel land mine situation in the border region of the two countries.

As a result of this mission, and based on the requests of both countries for the assistance of the OAS in humanitarian demining activities, the Organization submitted working documents for consideration by both governments containing a proposal to provide coordinated international assistance with the efforts of both countries in integrated action against antipersonnel mines in their respective territories.

A number of additional activities conducted within the framework of AICMA are indicated below:

    • As stipulated in the Ottawa Convention and in the National Plan for the Destruction of Stockpiled Mines in Nicaragua, 30,000 antipersonnel mines have been destroyed in the country on four different occasions.
    • In that regard, and in order to begin the destruction of stocks of mines in Honduras, AICMA organized an advisory and assistance mission to that country for the destruction of stockpiled antipersonnel mines, sponsored by the Government of Canada.

With regard to the Rehabilitation Program for Victims of Antipersonnel Mines, a Framework Agreement was signed between the International Rehabilitation Center and the Organization of American States for the implementation of a Plan of Action to develop and prepare new technologies, educational material, and physical and labor-related employment programs for persons affected by antipersonnel mines and explosive devices in Central America.

Furthermore, during the course of the year, there was close coordination with the Pan American Health Organization with the aim of working cooperatively on activities related to assistance, rehabilitation, and integration of victims of mines, and on awareness education of the population on the danger of these devices. Also, contact was established with the Trust for the Americas in order to conduct joint work with the private, public, and academic sectors, and the different civil society institutions in the Hemisphere, with a view to promoting initiatives beneficial to mine victims.

In order to start a seed fund aimed at providing urgent medical assistance overseas to mine victims who cannot be treated in their countries, AICMA made arrangements, together with the Women of the Americas Foundation [Fundación Mujeres de las Américas] of Washington, to obtain funds from the cultural activity organized by this foundation annually, which, by means of a unanimous decision, contributed 80% of funds collected.

For further information on OAS de-mining activities, please see the Report of the General Secretariat on the Implementation of resolutions AG/RES. 1641 (XXIX-O/99) "Support for the Mine-Clearing Program in Central America", and AG/RES. 1644 (XXIX-O/99) "The Western Hemisphere as an Antipersonnel-Land-Mine-Free Zone", (CP/doc.3306/00).

Honduras-Nicaragua Situation

Tensions between Honduras and Nicaragua rose to alarming levels in late November 1999, following the ratification, by Honduras, of a treaty with Colombia which mutually recognizes Honduras and Colombia’s maritime boundaries in the Caribbean sea. Both countries quickly sought the help of the OAS in order to prevent an escalation of tensions or incidents in the Caribbean Sea.

Upon receiving the requests from Honduras and Nicaragua, and without delay, the OAS Permanent Council met in special sessions on December 6 and 7, 1999, to consider the matters presented by the two countries. On December 7, the Council approved a resolution calling for the Secretary General to nominate, "with the greatest possible urgency," a Special Representative to "evaluate the situation, facilitate dialogue, and formulate recommendations aimed at easing tension and preventing acts that could affect peace in the Hemisphere."

Ambassador Luigi Einaudi was chosen as Special Representative and immediately began helping the Parties search for common ground and establish confidence and security-building mechanisms to avoid incidents. Over the subsequent three months, Honduras and Nicaragua reached a series of understandings which helped reduce tensions and established mechanisms to ensure the peace.

The first agreement was concluded in Miami following two days of intense discussions at the end of December 1999. The Foreign Ministers of Honduras and Nicaragua, and the Special Representative, agreed on a political framework for lowering tensions in the region and for enacting confidence and security-building measures. The second agreement, concluded February 7, 2000, in San Salvador, El Salvador, at the headquarters of the Central-American Integration System, defined tension-reducing measures in the Caribbean Sea, including an agreement to not maintain any new military or police posts, to refrain from carrying out actions that could provoke incidents or serve as an obstacle to resolving any controversy by peaceful means, and to establish a combined Honduran-Nicaraguan patrol mechanism. The final agreement, concluded March 7, 2000 at the headquarters of the OAS, completed the confidence and security-building mechanisms agreed upon in Miami and San Salvador by setting forth detailed provisions for combined patrols in the Caribbean, for controls on military activity near the land border, and for coordinated patrols within the two countries’ jurisdictional waters in the Gulf of Fonseca.

The provisions established by the three agreements provide for a peaceful and secure modus vivendi while the substantive issue of determining the maritime border in the Caribbean Sea is settled by the International Court of Justice in the Hague. Nicaragua had requested that the Court determine the maritime boundary, and both countries have agreed to abide by its decision.

Two other disputes in the sub-region, one between Costa Rica and Nicaragua over navigation rights in the San Juan river, and a territorial dispute between Guatemala and Belize, have more recently been brought to the attention of the Organization. At the request of the Parties to both disputes, the Secretary General is serving as a facilitator for continued discussions to find peaceful solutions to these issues.

STRENGTHENING OF JUSTICE SYSTEMS AND JUDICIARIES

Crime Prevention

As regards cybercrime, a second Meeting of Experts was held to analyze the Government Experts’ draft report based on the questionnaire developed by the member states. Special guests to deal with the question of cybercrime were in attendance, including representatives of CitiGroup, America Online, the FBI, and other private sector companies. The government experts recommended the member states create public agencies to investigate and prosecute cybercrime. The experts urged all the countries to make the necessary efforts to harmonize their applicable laws in order to facilitate international cooperation in combating these crimes.

The Inter-American Juridical Committee met in Washington, D.C., on March 20-31, 2000, and discussed several key issues including the juridical aspects of hemispheric security and legal dimensions of integration and international trade. Participants also discussed the issue of children who are taken across international borders by one parent.

Creation of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas

The special General Assembly held on November 15, 1999, approved the creation of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, the statutes of which were drawn up by the working group of government experts over the course of five meetings at OAS headquarters. The aim of the Center is to facilitate training of justice sector personnel, information exchanges, technical cooperation, and support for the reform and modernization of justice systems in the region. The member states agreed that the Center would first tackle criminal justice issues. During the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas, Santiago, Chile was chosen as the Headquarters for the Center.

Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas

The Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas was held from March 1 to 3, 2000, in San José, Costa Rica, and was opened by the President of the Republic of Costa Rica, Dr. Miguel Angel Rodríguez. It fulfilled several of the mandates of the Plan of Action of the Santiago Summit in the area of the strengthening of judicial organs and justice systems.

The ministers approved a series of concrete proposals for collective measures to move forward in the areas of legal and judicial cooperation, primarily in the field of extradition and cyber crimes. The general discussion among the ministers and attorneys general reflected the growing need of the countries in the Hemisphere for cooperation in the aforementioned areas not only in relation to their national interests, but because of the complexity and transnational scope of many of those subjects today, whose treatment has ceased to be exclusively domestic. In this spirit, the ministers noted the importance of exchanges of experiences and the support of the OAS and other international institutions for the modernization of their justice systems.

Topics discussed at the Ministerial meeting included:

    • Penitentiary policies and alternative conflict resolution;
    • Legal and judicial cooperation in such matters as extradition and the fight against corruption;
    • The designation of central officials in the countries to facilitate the dissemination of information and the effective and efficient implementation of agreements for cooperation in those areas;
    • The report on the first meeting of the Board of Directors of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas, including its recommendations on the site;
    • Technical assistance and support from working groups of specialists under a regional program in the OAS in such areas as cyber crime, in which new crimes need to be identified and jurisdictional organs must be authorized to combat them.

The Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas, approved the following conclusions and recommendations:

  1. Cyber Crime

The Third REMJA, mindful of the recommendations made by the Group of Government Experts on Cyber Crime that met at OAS headquarters in May and October, 1999, urges member states of the OAS to:

    • Identify one or more agencies within their country that will have primary authority and responsibility to investigate and prosecute cyber crime;
    • Take steps to enact legislation covering cyber crime, if they have not already done so;
    • Make every effort to harmonize their laws on cyber crime in such a way as to facilitate international cooperation in preventing and combating these illicit activities;
    • Determine their training needs in the area of cyber crime and explore bilateral, regional, and multilateral cooperation mechanisms to meet those needs;
    • Consider the possibility of becoming members of the 24-Hour/7-Day a Week Point of Contact Group, or participating in other existing mechanisms for cooperation or the exchange of information in order to initiate or receive information;
    • Take steps to heighten awareness of this issue among the general public, including users in the education system, the legal system, and the justice system regarding the need to prevent and combat cyber crime;
    • Consider various measures, including setting up a Voluntary Specific Fund, to support efforts to expand cooperation on this matter in the Hemisphere;
    • Promote, in the framework of the OAS, the exchange of information on cyber crime and dissemination of information regarding activities in this field, including the OAS Web page on the subject;
    • Ensure follow-up to the implementation of the recommendations of the Group of Government Experts in the framework of the OAS, taking into account the need to prepare guidelines to orient national efforts in the field of cyber crime through, for instance, the development of model legislation or other pertinent legal instruments and training programs.

2. Extradition and mutual legal assistance

The Third REMJA welcomes the progress achieved in complying with the recommendations made at the Second REMJA, especially with regard to presentation of information on points of contact, checklists of requirements for extradition, standard forms for requesting mutual legal assistance, and glossaries of legal terms.

In this connection, it:

    • Urges member states of the OAS that have not already done so to present the information requested as soon as possible in order to permit a comprehensive assessment of the situation in the Hemisphere with regard to this topic;
    • Invites the OAS to disseminate that information through its web page;
    • Encourages member states of the OAS to provide, in addition to the information already presented, material on the way extradition requests are handled by their respective executive and judicial branches;
    • Emphasizes the need to promote heightened awareness among members of the legislative and judicial branches regarding their responsibility with respect to extradition;
    • Resolves to strengthen cooperation and mutual confidence in this field by establishing an information network composed of competent authorities and mandated to prepare specific recommendations in the area of extradition and mutual legal assistance for consideration by said authorities prior to plenary session of the Fourth REMJA. That network containing information on the different legal systems in the Hemisphere should rely as far as possible on electronic communications media, especially the Internet;
    • Exhorts member states of the OAS that have not already done so to consider the possibility of ratifying or acceding to inter-American conventions on juridical and judicial cooperation.
    1. Prison and penitentiary policy: all aspects of health in prisons

Bearing in mind the importance of all aspects of health in prisons, the Third REMJA:

    • Invites member states of the OAS to seek ways to reduce overcrowding in prisons, making use, inter alia, of alternatives to imprisonment;
    • Urges governments to share experiences acquired in their prison systems with respect to all aspects of the health of the prison or former prison population in order to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, STDs, addictions and prison violence;
    • Invites member states of the OAS to cooperate in the development of projects to train personnel in this area, with the support of international and national organizations, whether governmental or nongovernmental;
    • Requests member states of the OAS to monitor, with the help of experts in the field, the subject of all aspects of health in prisons, with a view to identifying common problems and promoting cooperation and exchanges of information and experience;
    • Invites member states of the OAS with the relevant experience to share information regarding the participation of private enterprises in the construction and/or management of penitentiaries, with a view to exploring new options for improving prison systems.

4. Access to Justice: Alternative Conflict Resolution and Other Mechanisms

With a view to improving systems for the administration of justice, the Third REMJA:

    • Reiterates its commitment to improve access to justice for the inhabitants of member states of the OAS through the promotion and use of alternative methods of conflict resolution, to broaden access to flexible and expeditious judicial and extrajudicial means of conflict resolution that will contribute to democratic development;
    • Urges member states of the OAS with experience in this field to offer their cooperation in developing and fostering these alternative mechanisms;
    • Recommends that, as part of the legal cooperation activities being carried out by the General Secretariat of the OAS, an effort be made to develop and implement cooperation programs designed to encourage recourse to alternative conflict resolution methods, in coordination with agencies active in this field in the countries of the Americas;
    • Urges member states of the OAS to promote, in accordance with their respective laws, the incorporation into educational programs of material encouraging the use of dialogue, negotiation, mediation, and other methods of dispute resolution that are designed to strengthen peaceful coexistence and further a culture of peace and human rights;
    • Resolves to continue consideration of the topic of alternative dispute resolution in the framework of the OAS, in order to foster the exchange of experience and other cooperation among the member states of the OAS.

5. Justice Studies Center of the Americas

The Third REMJA:

    • Welcomes the establishment of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas; the adoption of its Statute; and the election of its Board of Directors by the General Assembly of the OAS, fulfilling a mandate of the Second Summit of the Americas;
    • Takes note of the recommendations contained in the Report of the First Meeting of the Board of Directors, held in Washington, D. C. on February 24 and 25, 2000;
    • Decides that the site for the Justice Studies Center of the Americas be Santiago, Chile, exercising the authority assigned to the REMJA under the Statute of the Center and bearing in mind the recommendation made by the Board of Directors. The Third REMJA thanks the governments of Argentina, Peru, the Dominican Republic, and Uruguay for their offers to provide a site for the Center and invites them to contribute their experience and technical skills in supporting the work entrusted to the Center. The Third REMJA recognizes the role that institutions such as that proposed by the Government of Argentina and other governments may play in this regard;
    • Urges the member states and Permanent Observers of the OAS to contribute voluntary funds to finance the Center's activities, in accordance with the provisions of Article 17 of the Statute of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas;
    • Encourages the Board of Directors to proceed with preparation of its rules of procedure; early signature of a Headquarters Agreement with the Government of Chile; preparation of a draft work plan for the Center; and appointment of its Executive Director;
    • Requests that the General Assembly of the OAS approve the appointment of the person proposed by the Board of Directors as Executive Director of the Center, pursuant to Article 6 of the Statute of the Center in order to ensure that it can begin activities as soon as possible;
    • Invites the Board of Directors to give due consideration to the conclusions and recommendations of the Third REMJA in developing the Center’s work plan and its activities, as provided for in Article 12 of its Statute.

These conclusions and recommendations are addressed, as appropriate, to the member states of the OAS, its political and advisory organs, the General Secretariat, and other inter-American entities.

Several nongovernmental organizations participated, some in the meeting itself and others in an informal session in which they described the work they had done in support of the governments, primarily in matters relating to prison policies. Extensive information was also supplied on a variety of national experiences in some of the areas covered by the agenda.

MODERNIZATION OF THE STATE IN LABOR MATTERS

In June 1999, the Labor Ministers' Working Group I on globalization of the economy and its social and labor dimensions, met in Lima, Peru, to discuss the following issues related to the social dimension of integration processes: transformations in the structure and function of job markets and labor regimes; professional training and skill acquisition; and assistance systems for unemployed workers. This group had been created at the Eleventh Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor. In connection with these issues, the Group proposed drawing up a Ministerial Declaration that would set forth principles for tackling the social dimension of integration processes, the adoption of basic labor rules, and procedures for ensuring their compliance.

The Ministers' Working Group II on modernization of the state and labor administration: requirements and challenges met in San José, Costa Rica, in April 1999. At this meeting, the Group analyzed a broad range of functions performed by labor ministries and concluded that changes had to be made in a number of areas. These two Groups met again in November and December 1999 to continue their work.

Meeting to Follow-Up on the decisions adopted at the Eleventh Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor

On February 24-25, 2000, in Washington D.C., the Ministers of Labor of the hemisphere met for a two-day follow-up session of the Eleventh Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor. The International Labor Organization (ILO), the Inter-American Development Bank, and the OAS provided technical support to the meeting. The main objective of this meeting was to review the progress made in implementing the Plan of Action approved by the ministers in their 1998 meeting in Viña del Mar, Chile.

Peru, as coordinator for Working Group I on "Economic Globalization and Its Social and Labor Dimensions", presented a document stressing the social dimension of integration processes. The document outlined the transformations undergone by labor markets and labor legislation, recommended reforms in training and vocational education, and argued in favor of establishing systems to assist unemployed workers, or workers changing jobs.

The second working group, coordinated by Costa Rica, presented its conclusions in a report entitled "Modernization of the State and Labor Administration: Requirements and Challenges". Some of the main points emphasized in it were: general labor administration topics; inspection systems; information and statistics systems; mechanisms for prejudicial settlement of labor disputes; dialogue between labor and management; collective bargaining; and integration of special collectives in the labor market.

To follow-up on these proposals, the Chairman requested that a future meeting of the Advisory Committee be convened. This Committee will prepare specific projects for technical cooperation on nine different areas:

    • Employment and labor institutions,
    • Collective bargaining,
    • Labor relations,
    • Professional and occupational training,
    • Protection systems for the unemployed,
    • Labor information systems,
    • Meeting labor standards,
    • Modernizing labor justice, and
    • Social dialogue.

Finally, the ministers agreed to hold the XII Conference next year in Canada, and the XIII meeting in Brazil in 2003.

Support in Employment and Labor Affairs from the Unit for Social Development and Education

With regard to employment and labor affairs, the Second Summit of the Americas requested the OAS’s cooperation to assist labor ministries in exchanging information on methods and strategies for modernizing the State and labor administrations. In compliance with this, the Unit for Social Development and Education is supporting the member states’ efforts at the four levels described below.

1. At the ministerial level, the Unit serves as the Technical Secretariat of the Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor and it has been providing permanent assistance to the Conference’s pro tempore chair, particularly in preparing and organizing the meetings of the two Working Groups referred to above. The Unit prepared the Meeting to Follow-Up on the decisions Adopted at the 11th Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor, which took place in Washington D.C., February 24-25, 2000, and assessed the progress made with implementing the Viña del Mar Action Plan in the context of the mandates of the Second Summit of the Americas.

2. Regarding labor information systems, the Unit is providing technical support for the implementation of a System of Information on Labor Markets (SISMEL), thereby complying with a specific mandate handed down by the labor ministers. To date, the following progress has been made: a set of basic labor indicators for assessing the impact of economic policies on labor markets have been selected; direct cooperation has been provided for thirteen countries for improving labor statistics; two regional seminars have been organized to determine standardized terminology and labor indicators; a SISMEL webpage has been launched which interconnects twenty labor ministries in a labor market information network.

3. In the field of employment promotion policies, the Unit is collaborating with the labor ministries in identifying, exchanging, promoting, and disseminating policies and programs intended to generate productive employment. To this end, in conjunction with the chair of the Conference of Labor Ministers, it is supporting the implementation of multilateral horizontal cooperation program to enable the member states to assess and exchange experiences with employment and job training policies. To date three regional seminars have been held, dealing with the following areas: (i) productive employment policies, (ii) job training policies, and (iii) protection policies for unemployed workers. In addition, an electronic information network is being set up to interconnect the labor ministries in regard to this issue.

4. Finally, in accordance with the mandate of the Second Summit of the Americas regarding specific instruments for expanding job creation, the Unit has held four seminars on Policies and Instruments for the Development of Small Businesses. These events were aimed at making government authorities and business leaders aware of the most successful policies and programs in the region.

 

FREE TRADE AREA OF THE AMERICAS (FTAA)

Fifth Trade Ministerial of the FTAA

Meeting in Toronto during the Fifth Trade Ministerial of the FTAA process November 3 and 4, 1999, Ministers of Trade of the 34 member states agreed on a comprehensive business facilitation package, focusing on practical measures to simplify customs clearances and to promote government transparency. The business facilitation package includes eight customs measures that will reduce transaction costs and create a more consistent and predictable business environment, making it easier to conduct business in the hemisphere. In addition, transparency measures will make procedures and regulations better known and accessible to the public, with the information kept current and relevant to business communities and other interested parties through the use of new communications technologies.

On November 3, 1999, twenty-two of the trade ministers and vice-ministers met with representatives from organizations representing a cross-section of civil society from across the Americas. The ministers were presented with recommendations that were developed at the Americas Civil Society Forum, on issues such as foreign direct investment, labor standards and poverty alleviation. They also engaged in a question and answer session with participants.

Ministers also agreed to a common approach on agricultural export subsidies which was to be discussed at the World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations in Seattle of December 1999.

Meetings of the Trade Negotiation Committees and the Negotiating Groups

During the third meeting of the Trade Negotiations Committee held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, July 28 to 30, 1999, member states achieved consensus on 9 out of 10 business facilitation measures. Those agreements are in respect to the commitment made by the leaders of the 34 member states to achieve substantial concrete progress by January 2000. Business facilitation measures adopted at the meeting included procedures covering temporary importation or admission of goods related to business travel; express shipments; simplified procedures for low-value shipments; compatible electronic data interchange systems; a harmonized commodity description and coding system; dissemination of customs information and procedures; common data elements for administering customs and border transactions; codes of conduct for customs officials; and risk analysis and targeting methodology to enable customs officials to focus enforcement activity on high-risk travelers and goods while speeding the movement of low-risk goods. The measures were reviewed by a committee of customs experts meeting in Miami in mid-September and were subsequently considered by the Ministers of the 34 FTAA member nations at their November 1999 ministerial in Toronto.

Since the beginning of 2000, various Negotiating Groups have met in Miami, Florida regarding the implementation of the trade mandate from the Toronto Ministerial. On January 17-19, the Negotiating Group on Subsidies, Antidumping, and Compensatory Rights met to work on eliminating barriers to trade and investment. The discussion centered on the interaction between trade and competition policies, including anti-dumping measures, in addition to ways to deepen subsidy disciplines.

The Negotiating Group on Competition Policy met January 20-21, 2000. The deliberations focused on defining a schedule of meetings and a methodology in order to fulfill the trade mandate promoting the development of competition policy and a guarantee on the enforcement of regulations on free competition.

On February 15-16, 2000, the Negotiating Group on Investment gathered in Miami, Florida. They began the first phase of drafting a Work Program on an Investment text, which will be presented in final form to the Trade Negotiations Committee (TNC) 12 weeks prior to the Ministerial meeting scheduled for April 2001, in Argentina. The main objectives of the Investment Negotiation Group are to establish a fair and transparent legal framework to promote investment through the creation of a stable and predictable environment that protects the investor, his/her investment and related flows, without creating obstacles to investments from outside the hemisphere.

The Negotiating Group on Purchases of the Public Sector met between February 17-18,2000, followed by the Group on Services which met between February 29 and March 3, 2000. At this meeting, a work plan and a tentative schedule of meetings for this year were adopted, as well as deadlines and the next steps for the formulation of a draft text for the chapter on services.

Finally, the Negotiating Group on Intellectual Property met in Miami, Florida, on March 15-16, 2000.

Technical Cooperation

The centerpiece of the OAS Trade Unit’s technical assistance activities is the Training Course for Government Officials on the Multilateral and Regional Trade Issues for the Americas (NO BOLD). Two sessions were held, one for Spanish speaking participants from June 14-25, 1999, and one for English speaking participants from June 28-July 9, 1999. A total of 54 participants from 28 countries in the hemisphere, as well as participants from the Andean Community Secretariat and the Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) of CARICOM, benefited from the expertise of 50 speakers in the two intensive courses in multilateral trade policy issues. The speakers and instructors were drawn from the governments of the hemisphere, the World Trade Organization, World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organization of American States, Georgetown University, and numerous think tanks, law firms and non-governmental organizations. The objective of the course was to deepen the understanding and methods of trade policy and its formulation with a focus on the smaller economies of the Hemisphere.

The OAS Trade Unit organized a seminar entitled How Governments Can Further Promote and Facilitate the Use of Arbitration and Other Alternative Dispute Settlement Methods for Settling Private Sector Differences within the FTAA Region. The seminar was held in Miami on May 4, 1999, immediately preceding the third meeting of the FTAA Negotiating Group on Dispute Settlement. Topics covered included the public international legal order governing private commercial arbitration, arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution methods and the differences in common law and civil law perspectives, drafting arbitration agreements and enforcing arbitral awards within the Hemisphere, experience in establishing an Arbitration center, and the work of the NAFTA Advisory Committee on Private Commercial Disputes.

On July 8-9, 1999, the OAS Trade Unit, in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica (COMEX) the Inter-American Development Bank’s Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean (INTAL), organized a conference entitled Global Services Trade and the Americas. Held in San José, Costa Rica, the conference brought together government negotiators from the Western Hemisphere responsible for service negotiations, private sector executives from services industries, representatives of national service coalitions and academics. The purpose of the conference was to examine critical issues for the WTO millennium round negotiations; analyze the approach that the various sub-regional agreements in the hemisphere have adopted towards services liberalization; and to explore the services discussions at the FTAA level. The conference also included three sectoral workshops devoted to the areas of financial services, electronic commerce and telecommunications. In raising awareness of these issues for the Western Hemisphere, the conference’s objective was to serve as a building block to the World Services Congress, scheduled to take place in November 2000 in Atlanta, Georgia.

 

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

Creation of the Inter-American Science and Technology Program

At its twenty-ninth regular session in Guatemala, the OAS General Assembly approved resolution AG/RES 1690 on science and technology. With this resolution, member states of the Organization adopted the Inter-American Science and Technology Program, approved by the Inter-American Council for Integral Development as an integral part of the Strategic Plan for Partnership for Development 1997-2001. Member governments also instructed CIDI to promote the implementation of the Program, with the assistance of the Inter-American Commission on Science and Technology (COMCYT), in coordination with the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development and the Office of Science and Technology.

Second Meeting of the Inter-American Commission on Science and Technology

On October 26-27, 1999, the Office of Science and Technology, in conjunction with Mexico’s National Science and Technology Council (CONACYT), organized the second regular meeting of the Inter-American Commission on Science and Technology, which was held in Acapulco, Mexico. On that occasion the Office’s director submitted a document entitled "Guidelines for Science and Technology Cooperation within the OAS," which was then used by member state delegates as a starting point for discussions on a number of issues including the following:

  • The usefulness of convening a new hemispheric meeting of science and technology ministers;
  • The need to concentrate and focus resources from the Special Multilateral Fund of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (FEMCIDI);
  • The need to secure funds to supplement those of FEMCIDI; and,
  • The advisability of obtaining technical coordination and leadership from the member states in the areas of action set forth in the Inter-American Science and Technology Program (PRICYT).

This latter point is to ensure that the proposed projects that are presented for approval first pass through a preliminary technical assessment, that they are multilateral in scope, and that they have the greatest possible impact on the region’s countries, particularly those with smaller economies. The Office of Science and Technology served as the technical secretariat for this second meeting of COMCYT.

The member states adopted a series of resolutions during the meeting, including one which convokes the First Hemispheric Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Science and Technology under the aegis of CIDI, to be held at OAS headquarters in 2001. Other resolutions which were approved include one assigning two joint coordinating countries to each of the PRICYT’s areas of action, to take charge of the technical coordination of the science and technology cooperation projects covered by those areas; another giving the OAS Office of Science and Technology a mandate to provide the necessary support for the formulation of projects; a resolution recommending that the region’s countries increase their contributions to specific accounts in FEMCIDI’s science and technology sectoral account and that they identify and secure additional sources of financing pursuant to the terms of the Cartagena Declaration and Plan of Action. Finally, the governments adopted a resolution which paves the way for holding the third meeting of COMCYT in Washington, D.C., in the year 2000, prior to the meetings of the Nonpermanent Specialized Committees (CENPEs) to allow for preliminary technical assessment of the projects submitted for FEMCIDI financing. Another of this meeting’s achievements was to clearly define the relationship between COMCYT and the Common Market of Scientific and Technological Knowledge (MERCOCYT).

On October 26, 1999, the 7th meeting of the Permanent Commission of MERCOCYT was held in Acapulco, Mexico. This meeting discussed the ways in which scientific and technological knowledge was exchanged and disseminated among the Organization’s member states. A bulletin containing information on MERCOCYT’s activities was distributed among the participants, and this four-language publication will later be sent to institutions in the Organization’s member states.

The Hemisphere-Wide Science and Technology Project (RedHUCyT)

The Hemisphere-Wide Science and Technology Project (RedHUCyT), continued its support to the development of the Internet and Information Technologies in the region. In particular it funded a project in Nicaragua to plan, develop and install networks, and network connections in the following institutions:

    • Bluefields Indian And Caribbean University (BICU)
    • Centro Universitario Regional del Norte (CURESTELI) de la Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua (UNAN)
    • Facultad de Ciencias Económicas (RUCFA) -UNAN)
    • Universidad Nacional Agraria (UNA)
    • Universidad Nacional Autónoma de Nicaragua, Facultad de Derecho (UNAN-LEON)
    • Universidad de las Regiones Autónomas de la Costa Caribe Nicaragüense (URACCAN)
    • Secretaria Técnica del Consejo Nacional de Universidades (CNU)

RedHUCyT’s financial support enabled these institutions to purchase modems, routers, network cards and network software for their new network system, which will allow them to connect to the Internet. RedHUCyT also sponsored the Second Central-American Workshop on Network Security as well as a Security Seminar for governmental institutions. SENACyT, the Panamanian National Secretariat for Science and Technology, coordinated both events.

The Information on Science and Technology Project, INFOCyT, a subproject of RedHUCyT, expanded its activities in the region with the inclusion of El Salvador to the list of countries that host the system. Currently, INFOCyT is hosted in Chile, El Salvador, and Guatemala with a mirror site at the OAS. These projects were funded by CIDI through RedHUCyT.

Metrology, Standards, Accreditation, and Quality

The Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) requires a technical infrastructure to facilitate trade and commerce in the Hemisphere. The activities carried out in the framework of the projects related to metrology, standards, accreditation, and quality, are contributing, in a considerable manner, to obtain this infrastructure needed.

The following activities were carried out, between November 1999 to March 2000, under the project "Physical and Chemical Metrology for the Americas: Developing and Establishing Measurement Capabilities within the Inter-American Metrology System (SIM)."

  • A course on "Labeling and Net contents of Pre-packaged Goods" was held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, from November 29 to December 3, 1999. Representatives of eighteen Central American and Caribbean countries (CAMET and CARIMET) -metrology institutions- participated in this activity. This course was aimed to familiarize participants with the basic principles of labeling and checking the net contents of pre-packaged goods as well as to lay the foundation for harmonization in these areas among countries.
  • Representatives of the Andean (ANDIMET), Caribbean (CARIMET), North American (NORAMET), and Southern Cone (SURAMET) countries participated in the SIM Council Meeting held in Caracas, Venezuela, January 27-28, 1999.
  • Within the framework of the 2000 Measurement Science Conference Symposium and Workshop held in Anaheim, California, January 18-21, attended by several SIM Members, SIM Technical Committee and Professional Development Committee meetings were held with the participation of ANDIMET, CAMET, CARIMET, SURAMET and NORAMET representatives. During these SIM meetings, several issues were addressed, such as inter-comparison exercises of standards, training of human resources, and SIM program of activities for the 2000. This last topic was submitted to the SIM Council reunited in Caracas, Venezuela, a few days later.
  • Updating of the SIM website that is available through the OAS webpage.

The following activities were carried out within the framework of the project "Standardization, Accreditation, and Quality for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises," IAAC (inter-American Accreditation Cooperation):

  • Representatives from Brazil (INMETRO), Peru (INDECOPI), and Paraguay (ONA) attended the IAAC 4th Plenary and the 8th Executive Committee Meeting carried out in San Jose, Costa Rica, November 14-18, 1999. The purpose of these meetings was to reinforce the involvement of the IAAC members and working groups in the accomplishment of IAAC activities and future plans in order to implement the IAAC Mutual Recognition Agreement (MRA).
  • Updating of the IAAC website that is available through the OAS webpage.
  • In the area of quality, a meeting between a German Government representative and the Regional Coordinator of the OAS/GTZ Project, was held at the Office of Science and Technology, in Washington, DC on November 15-16, 1999. During this meeting, project’s activities performed during 1997-1999 period were evaluated, especially activities related to the goal No. 8 of the project’s program carried out by INEN (Ecuador), CIT (Argentina), and LATU (Uruguay). The next OAS/GTZ Project Annual Coordination Meeting was another topic addressed during this meeting.

 

REGIONAL ENERGY COOPERATION

Fourth Hemispheric Energy Ministerial Meeting

Ministers of Energy of the Americas met in New Orleans, Louisiana July 28 and 29, 1999, on the occasion of the Fourth Hemispheric Energy Ministers Meeting. The Ministers met to evaluate the progress towards the fulfillment of the goals previously adopted; to share experiences about the energy integration process and discuss ways to make further progress in this area, to discuss the importance of the clean development and use of energy, to encourage the energy business sector established in the Hemisphere to organize itself into a Business Forum; and to consider the extension of the current Coordinating Secretariat.

In adopting a New Orleans Declaration and a Joint Statement on Clean Development and Use of Energy, Ministers recognized that "to succeed in making sustainable energy development and use a reality for the 21st century, continued and aggressive efforts are needed to, remove remaining impediments to energy trade and investment, to promote projects to address local, regional and global environmental concerns, and to further increase opportunities for the private sector." Ministers also recognized that sustainable energy policies and development are integral elements of any strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Ministerial also produced an Energy Business Forum of the Americas, in which "Ministers agreed to facilitate an interchange of ideas and perspectives between the business sector and government officials of the energy sector on issues related to the implementation of the commitments on energy adopted in the Action Plans of the Miami and Santiago Summits of the Americas".

Rural Electrification Programs

Many countries of the region have launched or are continuing aggressive rural electrification programs that rely heavily on the use of renewable energy sources. Among these nations are Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico. The Renewable Energy in the Americas (REIA) Initiative, a program of the OAS run by the Unit of Sustainable Development and Environment, is working throughout the region to promote environmentally clean development through the use of renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. REIA works closely with energy ministers and financial institutions to develop means for implementing programs in these areas. Additional information on REIA is available at http://www.oas.org/usde/REIA.htm

TELECOMMUNICATIONS

Recognizing that telecommunications are essential for a country’s development and that our region has enormous needs in these regards, the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) has continued to make progress in promoting the use of common, coordinated standards, particularly in the telecommunications management network, signaling systems, intelligent networks, wireless mobile services, and interconnection systems. Similarly, CITEL remains very busy in connection with the coordinated use of the radio spectrum. These activities are seen as essential ways to ensure greater economy in the introduction of new services that will ensure the interoperability of member states’ telecommunications networks.

Documents Approved and Adopted in the Region

In recent months, the member countries of CITEL have adopted coordinated standards documents for the following:

    • Signaling systems for use in and over networks that operate within national borders.
    • Low-power personal communications systems in the 1910-1930 MHz band.
    • Low-mobility wireless systems in the 1910-1930 MHz band.
    • Fixed wireless access systems in the 1910-1930 MHz band.

In addition, the Commission has adopted resolutions regarding the use of the recommendations contained in Intelligent Network Capability Set 2 and Signaling System Number 7. The Second Summit of the Americas, held in Santiago in 1998, stated that intelligent networks were a consistent priority throughout the region.

CITEL has updated its Certification Guidelines, which deal with the notions of "certification" and "approval/homologation" contained in International Standardization Organization (ISO) document No. 2 (98). This update was included in the "Definitions" section of the Inter-American Agreement on Mutual Recognition Agreement for the Assessment of Conformity of Telecommunications Equipment.

At the Second Summit of the Americas, the Heads of State and Government decided to establish mechanisms to facilitate trade and access to information technology by entering into Mutual Recognition Agreements for conformity assessments. CITEL has approved a series of guidelines for the development of Mutual Recognition Agreements for telecommunications equipment conformity assessments in the Americas. In pursuit of this mandate, CITEL’s Permanent Consultative Committee I instructed the Ad Hoc Group on Telecommunications Equipment Certification to prepare guidelines and a reference framework toward the creation of a Mutual Recognition Agreement among CITEL member states. The work of this Ad Hoc Group led to the endorsement of the inter-American Mutual Recognition Agreement for the Assessment of Conformity of Telecommunications Equipment in October 1999.

In October 1999, CITEL approved guidelines and practices for regulating interconnectivity. The mandate of the Santiago Plan of Action requires CITEL to draw up optimal guidelines for interconnections by the end of 1999.

CITEL has requested in their annual report to the General Assembly that government authorities declare the Internet as a national interest and that they devise and implement national plans for Internet access. In particular, the Commission has suggested that governments, in conjunction with the private sector, devise fee schedules for Internet access which will facilitate mass public access, and that free Internet access for schools and universities should be considered within the schedules. The Commission also suggested that governments support teaching of Internet programming languages and that along with the telecommunications industry, they devise ways to facilitate and increase purchases of computers by the general population. A pilot project on tele-education was also completed in 1999.

CITEL has also approved the creation of a database containing policies, guidelines, administrative procedures, regulations, standards, and rates in force in the Commission's member states for the granting of concessions, licenses, and permits for the use of the radio spectrum and satellite orbital positions.

Publications

CITEL prepared a book on "Universal Service in the Americas," intended to resolve the needs of the region’s countries in this regard. Universal service or universal access is, within the current telecommunications revolution, the foundation on which telecommunications policies and laws are based. The publication was produced with assistance from the ITU and AHCIET . It comprises four sections: the treatment of universal service/access in the ITU, the treatment of universal service/access within CITEL, the treatment of universal service/access in the WTO’s negotiations on basic telecommunications, and universal service/access in the Americas.

The Commission also approved and published an update of the "Blue Book" that gathers together the telecommunications policy and regulatory recommendations in force in the region. This task is being undertaken in conjunction with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the book should be available in April 2000.

Cooperation with Regional and International Bodies

The Commission participates at international meetings, mainly world telecommunications standardization meetings, radio-communications events, and assemblies of ITU plenipotentiaries. CITEL has successfully worked for the inclusion and acceptance of the joint positions submitted by the region’s countries and coordinated by the Commission. Joint proposals for the following are current being prepared and/or approved:

    1. The ITU’s World Radio-communications Conference (May–June 2000). The joint proposals currently number more than 120, and the preparatory work is still underway.
    2. The ITU’s World Telecommunications Standardization Assembly (September–October 2000).

CITEL also carried out the following tasks with other international organizations:

    • Working in conjunction with the ITU on training in the telecommunications field.
    • Promoting memorandums of understanding for different satellite telecommunications services; e.g., for global mobile personal communications by satellite (GMPCS).
    • Coordinating efforts for a more efficient and advantageous use of the radio spectrum in the region.
    • Adopting resolutions and recommendations to facilitate and guarantee interconnectivity and interoperability in regional and global public telecommunications networks.

Other Ongoing Efforts:

CITEL has begun and is continuing work on recommendations and resolutions so the member countries can fully enter into the following areas with world-class technologies and services:

    1. The promotion of global information infrastructure in the Americas by evaluating electronic commerce, developing regulatory guidelines to improve network interconnectivity, and identifying and drafting proposals related to new telecommunications applications, services, and technologies. These efforts are being done in an effort to facilitate the deployment of E-Commerce.
    2. Tele-medicine for all sectors of society, particularly those that are isolated and in the greatest need.
    3. Internet Protocol (IP) telecommunications, chiefly voice and data transmissions.

The Commission continues to organize telecommunications forums, with seminars on important current issues for telecommunications in the region that feature leading international specialists:

    1. The Third CITEL/CCP.I Telecommunications Forum, "Convergence in the Services, Infrastructure, and Regulatory Framework of IP-Based Networks: A New Vision of Telecommunications in the Americas," was held on February 14-16, 2000.
    2. Approval was given for a Broadcasting Policy Forum, involving the public and private sectors, to gather together all the necessary information and knowledge on the subject. This event is scheduled for August 2000.

Additional Activities Foreseen for the year 2000:

    • Implementation of the Inter-American Mutual recognition Agreement for the Assessment of Conformity of telecommunications Equipment ;
    • Preparation of policy proposals and recommendations on the development and deployment of infrastructure for the information of the Americas, as an integral part of the globalization information society;

FOSTERING THE DEVELOPMENT OF MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZE ENTERPRISES

The OAS has two programs in the area of small and medium sized enterprises, the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) and the Inter-American Program for Environment Technology Cooperation in Key Industry Sectors.

The aims of the Young Americas Business Trust, run by the Unit for Social Development and Education, are to promote entrepreneurial development of young people in the Americas and the Caribbean, drawing on the private sector for technical and financial partnerships and establishing closer working relationships with other non-governmental organizations working in the field of micro, small, and medium size enterprises.

As a major activity in follow-up to the Summit process, the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT), now a specialized private sector initiative within the OAS framework, is developing a variety of creative approaches and partnerships with the private sector, both non-governmental organizations and companies doing business in the region.

The YABT priorities focus on three primary areas:

1. Creating political and regulatory environments that are conducive to business growth by highlighting the importance of young entrepreneurs as a public policy priority.

2. Increasing the level of training and follow-up resources available to young entrepreneurs.

3. Using new technologies such as the Internet to distribute "how to" information and curricula through international business and technical cooperation networks.

From discussions with both governmental and private sector leaders over the past two years, the following programs have been developed as the central thrust of activities for the Young Americas Business Trust:

  1. Strategic Assistance to Member States in identifying and expanding successful programs for young entrepreneurs by targeting resources where they can be most effective. OAS experience over the past decade has taught the value of an integrated approach to youth enterprise training and development. The approach is more strategic than project oriented, meaning that the Organization aims to identify existing resources, find gaps, and link programs together in a more systematic process. The methodology includes a range of training and programming that involve personal development skills, technical and business training, and access to resources, namely, technology and finance
  2. An Internet site, http://www.ybiz.net/ an "Internetwork" for young entrepreneurs and for organizations that work with them. A first step in this process is the development of a Directory of Resources for Micro, Small, and Medium Sized Businesses in the Americas and the Caribbean, comprising over 500 organizations in training, marketing, and finance. This is geared to helping business startups gain access to information and other resources that will help their business succeed and to linking organizations into a technical and information network to share experiences and expertise in the field.
  3. Business Leaders Summits, a series of high-level dialogues and "mini-summits" with key business leaders covering both the theme of youth entrepreneurial development and corporate social responsibility. The first of these meetings was held in New York on October 14, 1999
  4. Business Partnerships, collaboration with countries doing business in the region to mobilize support for young entrepreneur programs at the national level. The enables companies to directly support initiatives in countries where they have operations and for national organizations to benefit from contributed materials, staff support, and financial assistance. In this context, the YABT contributes as a catalyst to bring these donors and programs together in support of national development objectives. A key element of this program also involves recognition awards to businesses that make special or creative contributions to furthering young entrepreneur development
  5. Young Entrepreneur Technology Centers, draws on the OAS experience in developing small business resource centers and extends this practical approach by integrating technology into training and networking. This incorporates OAS technical cooperation projects such as business labs in the secondary schools, community resource centers, and leads to youth business trusts that provide financing for small loans
  6. El Mil Milenario – 1,000 for the Millennium, to be launched at the 2000 OAS General Assembly, the program will identify and recognize 1,000 of the Hemisphere’s top young entrepreneurs under age 35. Selection criteria will give priority to the number of jobs created and each country will receive a pro-rated number of winners in order to balance the program across all the OAS Member States. Near the end of 2000, networking conference of the winners will be staged and the program will conclude with a recognition ceremony in conjunction with the Third Summit of the Americas
  7. Youth and Energy in the Americas: Renewable Energy Training Program (YEA), is jointly sponsored by The Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) and the Renewable Energy in the Americas Initiative (REIA) of the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment. This program introduces young people from Latin America and the Caribbean to sustainable energy technologies through an intensive training orientation and internship program, developing skills among future professionals that lead them to successful careers while encouraging environmentally sound development of the energy sector throughout the region. Private sector organizations play a central role in a YEA by accepting the young people as interns, training them, and paying their costs.

The Inter-American Program for Environment Technology Cooperation in Key Industry Sectors, is a joint OAS initiative- International Development Research Center ("IDRC", Government of Canada) – World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organizations (WAITRO) which responds to the challenges faced by small and medium size enterprises in Latin America and Caribbean countries to adopt cost-effective, environmentally sound technologies and management practices. The purpose of the program is to better equip industry associations to deal with the environment management concerns of their membership, and bring them together with organizations which can assist them with follow up initiatives, thus creating a support network in the Hemisphere.

General Objectives include:

    • Creating a strong hemispheric network of sectoral industry associations that would support and promote, national initiatives for sustainable development.
    • Supporting the increased role of sectoral industry associations as key disseminators of information, educators, intermediaries with government, and promoters of alliances, projects and new approaches to competitiveness by their members.
    • Identifying small and medium sized industry association needs in relation to sustainable development.
    • Demonstrating that environmentally sound technologies and management practices can be adopted by small- and medium-sized enterprises in a cost-effective manner.

PROPERTY REGISTRATION

At the Santiago Summit, the governments of the Hemisphere entrusted the United States of America, along with El Salvador, with the responsibility for implementing the Property Registration mandate. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead agency within the U.S. government with responsibility for implementing the mandate.

USAID has launched the Inter-Summit Property Systems Initiative (IPSI) as the mechanism through which to implement the property registration mandate. The Initiative will contribute to the alleviation of poverty in the region by improving access to income earning market opportunities through more rapid, lower-cost solutions to the long-standing problems of defining and documenting property rights.

The OAS' Office of Summit Follow-Up, through the Summit of the Americas Information Network, is managing the ‘Virtual Office’ for the Responsible Coordinator's Property Systems Initiative. The Virtual Office web site is the focal point for information on the IPSI as well as on additional initiatives being undertaken by other governments and civil society organizations in the property registration field. The web page facilitates property registration professionals to communicate and exchange experiences and techniques. It also serves as a vehicle for civil society participation in property registration projects and provides a central repository of information for use by government policymakers, professionals, students and civil society organizations interested in property registration in the Americas. It is continually maintained in order to share information and promote dialogue on the property registration theme. For further information, please see http://www.property-registration.org

WOMEN

In the Area of Education:

CIM Campaign: Women and Education in the Americas of the 21st Century

The Executive Committee of the inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) approved an education project with a gender focus, entitled "The Educational Status of Women in the Americas". Based on assessments conducted, four fundamental lines of action were proposed to improve education for women in the Hemisphere:

1. Eliminate the deficiencies in the training of women, particularly young women, in order to enable them to enter the job market;

2. Eliminate the weaknesses in the formal education of female adults and elderly persons;

3. Improve the access of women in rural areas of poor countries to formal and non-formal education;

4. Eliminate the perpetuation of sexual stereotypes, as part of the effort to improve the quality of education.

In order to accomplish these, CIM produced and designed material for a hemispheric campaign of building awareness and sensitization in collaboration with the CIM Principal Delegate in each country. The material includes a book that discusses the educational status of women in the Americas and proposals for lines of action; a representative poster to be used during the campaign; a recording of micro-programs in order to conduct a radio campaign; and a guide with pointers for implementing the project. This material was distributed by the delegates of the CIM and also sent to all the permanent missions to the OAS, specialized organizations, and national offices of the OAS for information and dissemination purposes.

Women’s Economic Summit of the Americas (Buenos Aires, November, 1999)

The Inter-American Commission of Women co-hosted the Women’s Economic Summit of the Americas, held November 11-13, 1999 in Buenos Aires, Argentina. More than 350 women business, professional, and entrepreneurial leaders from throughout the Americas attended the event, to explore and share strategies for expanding women’s business and trade capabilities in the Hemisphere. As a follow-up to the 1998 Vital Voices for Democracy in Montevideo, the Summit extended further the business and entrepreneurial relationships established at that time.

The Summit also provided information on the Latin American market and its growth areas; data on women as a market in the region; a basic "primer" on trade pacts and their impact on women’s capacity to do business within the region and globally; training in the use of technology to increase an enterprise’s cross-border business capabilities, and more practical sessions that will link participants with business opportunities in the Hemisphere. The event was co-chaired by César Gaviria, Secretary General of the OAS; Ana Kessler, Minister for Small Business Administration in Argentina; and Aida Alvarez, Administrator, U.S. Small Business Administration. Special attention was given to the issue of microenterprises. Through the organizers, CIM obtained grants for three participants from Haiti, Honduras and Peru.

In the Area of the Human Rights of Women

Collaboration with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights

In compliance with resolution AG/RES. 1456/97 (XXVII-0/97), the CIM submitted to the Twenty-ninth Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly in Guatemala, the first biennial report on the follow-up of the "Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women". This report underscores the progress made by member states on the application of the "Belém do Pará" Convention, and it remains the only regional instrument that addresses and protects the rights of women victims of violence, and has been the catalyst for legislation, educational programs, innovative law enforcement approaches, and training programs. The project will review each member state’s compliance with the Convention by addressing not only criminal law, procedures, law enforcement, sentencing, and corrections, but also health services, social services, victim assistance programs, crime prevention measures, and awareness campaigns that have been introduced in the past five years. On April 27-28, 2000, experts analyzed the results of research on violence against women and made additional recommendations for effective implementation to the member states at the First Hemispheric Ministerial Meeting on Gender Equality. This meeting was organized by the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) in coordination with its international partners: UNIFEM, the UNDP, the UNFPA, PAHO, ECLAC, the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and the Inter-American Dialogue.

A review of Violence Against women in the Americas, to include the OAS Convention of Belém do Pará

CIM launched a research project on the status of violence against women in the Americas, The project, funded by the USAID, will review criminal law, procedures, law enforcement, sentencing and corrections, as well as health services, social services, victim assistance programs, crime prevention measures, and awareness campaigns. After the research is completed, experts in the area of violence against women will meet in two or three subregional meetings to analyze the results and make recommendations to the member states. Project results will be presented to the CIM Assembly of Delegates scheduled for November 2000.

Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the Status of Women in the Americas

The CIM also collaborated with the IACHR in the preparation of a report on the fidelity of the regulation and practices of member states in the area of women’s rights, to the Inter-American human rights system. The findings of the research were presented in the "Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the Status of Women in the Americas" at the OAS General Assembly in June 1999, as part of the annual report of the IACHR. The report ends with the recommendations of the Commission in regards to the elimination of discriminatory institutions that prevent the full exercise of women’s rights, an analysis of the consequences of this discrimination, and the development of initiatives to fulfill these recommendations within the regional system.

The Commission is also participating in the campaign on violence against women promoted by the United Nations, along with UNIFEM, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and PAHO. Some meetings have already taken place to initiate formalization of the inter-agency collaboration. The objective is both to establish a forum for coordination and information on this issue, and also to build awareness in society of violence against women.

Project to Stop International Trafficking in Women and Children in the Americas

A project entitled "International Trafficking in Women and Children in the Americas" has been developed in partnership with the International Human Rights Law Institute (IHRLI) of De Paul University (Chicago, Illinois) to conduct research on trafficking in women and children for purposes of sexual exploitation. On the basis of its experience in the field of human rights, the IHRLI is selecting seven or eight pilot countries. Suggested are Argentina, Brazil, Colombia , Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Jamaica, Mexico and Uruguay. With the assistance of two or three NGOs in the field, data will be compiled by country. Experts from the region, including experts from the selected countries, will be chosen to participate in analyzing the collected data. At a meeting hosted by the Commission and held in Washington, D.C., data will be reviewed and discussed and recommendations will be made. The results of preliminary research will be presented to the delegates of the Commission at the biennial Assembly of Delegates in November 2000. These findings will provide the basis for recommendations to the member states for action, and will be published and distributed throughout the Hemisphere. The Commission will also coordinate this project with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Children’s Institute.

PROLEAD

CIM is also participating as a co-sponsor and member of the Inter-American Development Bank’s Council on the Program for the Support of Women's Leadership and Representation (PROLEAD). Through this program, more than US$4 million will be provided to finance women’s leadership projects in the hemisphere. In 1998, the first request for proposal was issued, and more than 300 requests for funding were received. In November 1998, the Council selected 40 proposals, which received financing during the first cycle of activities. The Executive Committee of the CIM approved the allocation of US$30,000 of the 1998 regular budget of the CIM as an initial contribution to the program.

Appointment of Women to Senior Management Positions at the OAS

At its recent regular session held in Guatemala in 1999, the OAS General Assembly approved resolution AG/RES. 1627 (XXIX-O/99): "Appointment of women to senior management positions at the OAS", which urges the Secretary General to establish as an objective that, by the year 2005, women should occupy 50% of all positions in all categories of the OAS system, particularly at the P-4 grade-level and above. It also urges the Secretary General to try to ensure that gender equality is given priority in efforts to introduce a new culture of management at the Organization.

Institutional Strengthening of CIM

CIM has undertaken work in the area of the promotion and institutional strengthening of the Commission and its Permanent Secretariat. This will enable it to better respond to today’s challenges, provide it with more visibility within the Inter-American system and in the member states, and will also facilitate development of cooperative inter-sectoral relationships.

CIM sub-regional meeting held in Montevideo

Within the framework of the Seed Fund project on Strategic sub-regional development to implement the priority areas of the CIM and fully incorporate women into 21st-century society, the Meeting of Delegates and Experts from Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, and Uruguay was held in Montevideo, Uruguay on November 8-9, 1999. Over 200 women representing the political, public, private sectors and civil society attended this CIM sub-regional meeting to identify common problems and ways to work together through cooperation mechanisms among the countries in the sub-region. At the close of the meeting, the delegates to the CIM signed the Montevideo Declaration, which was presented to the meeting of the Presidents of MERCOSUR that Bolivia and Chile held in December 1999.

Third Regular Session in Washington, DC

On January 20-21 2000 the Executive Committee of the CIM held their Third Regular Session in Washington, DC. Arising from the mandates of the Summit of the Americas, one of the focal points of the agenda was the presentation of a draft document by CIM entitled "Inter-American Program to Promote the Rights of Women and Gender Equity" in preparation for the Meeting of the Ministers, or authorities at the highest level responsible for policies affecting women in the member states. This document highlights the participation by women in power and decision-making structures and education, elimination of violence against women, and the eradication of poverty as the four priority strategic areas which would be pursued through national and multi-national projects to promote women’s rights and gender equity.

Additional lines of action pertaining to women that were outlined and were included in this document are as follows: legal and institutional framework, work, health, national institutions responsible for the advancement of women, migration and women in areas of conflict, and regional cooperation.

Follow-up to the Summit of the Americas

The Government of Nicaragua, the responsible coordinator of the initiative of women for the Summit of the Americas, requested technical assistance from the CIM to prepare the system to monitor the implementation of that topic in all the countries of the Americas. The Permanent Secretariat of the CIM coordinated the preparation of the draft follow-up document presented by the Government of Nicaragua to the November 1999 meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group (XVII SIRG). The document contains six chapters: (i) strengthening national mechanisms for gender equity; (ii) equal rights for women; (iii) status of women in the Americas; (iv) women's health policy; (v) eradication of poverty and discrimination; and (vi) problems detected in fulfilling the mandates and suggestions for overcoming them.

At the meeting of the Executive Committee concern was expressed about compliance with the commitments of the Summits, and it was remarked that it had not yet been possible to obtain the financing needed for such compliance. It was noted that it was of the utmost importance to include the subject of the Summits in the Ministerial Meeting. There was also an exchange of ideas on measures that might be undertaken to make more significant progress, and it was proposed to focus attention on a few basic points (a system of indicators, strengthening of the national mechanisms and of the CIM) and to insist on a comprehensive approach to the subject of women in the Plan of Action of the Third Summit of the Americas. The General Secretariat was asked to prepare an information document on the activities carried on in the hemisphere in the field of women for presentation to the meeting of Ministers and in follow-up to the Summit.

First Hemispheric Ministerial Meeting on Advancement of Women

The "Meeting of Ministers or of the highest-ranking Authorities Responsible for the Advancement of Women in the Member States", was held in Washington D.C., on April 27 – 28, 2000. This groundbreaking Ministerial was organized by the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) in compliance with Resolution "Status of Women in the Americas and Strengthening and Modernization of the Inter-American Commission of Women," approved by the twenty-ninth regular session of the General Assembly of the OAS. . Representatives from various NGO’s and multilateral organizations such as UNIFEM, UNDP, PAHO, ECLAC, the IDB and the World Bank participated in the meeting. The meeting approved the Inter-American Program on Women’s Human Rights and Gender Equity and Equality, which will be presented for adoption at the General Assembly of the OAS in Windsor, Canada in June 2000. Another important area addressed was the implementation of the mandate concerning women in regards to the Second Summit of the Americas. The meeting also produced a clear commitment to gender mainstreaming as an effective strategy to promote gender equality in the Americas. The Ministers’ recommendations include to integrate a gender perspective in the Plan of Action and the Political Declaration of the Third Summit of the Americas. The specific areas discussed included the progress made in strengthening national mechanisms to achieve gender equity and equality and the problems associated with this, legal equality for women, the status of women in the Americas, women’s health policies, and the eradication of poverty and discrimination.

BASIC RIGHTS OF WORKERS

(Please see the initiative under Modernization of the State in Labor Matters)

INDIGENOUS POPULATIONS

Working Group of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs

In June 1999, at its twenty-ninth regular session, the General Assembly adopted a resolution creating a working group to study the proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Populations; this group was to include representatives of indigenous communities in its work, allowing their comments and suggestions to be heard. The working group’s first meeting was held on November 8-12, 1999. Representatives of member states, and of indigenous communities from many countries of the Hemisphere as well as the Inter-American Indigenous Institute and (CIDH) participated in the sessions which were presided by the Chair of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs, Ambassador Claude Heller, the Permanent Representative of Mexico to the OAS. The Working Group concluded a first reading of the Proposed Declaration and registered a number of observations made by the participants. In accordance with procedures previously agreed upon by the member states, representatives of the indigenous communities commented on the various articles of the Proposed Declaration. Their interventions were recorded in the report of the Chair of the Working Group.

The proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Populations aims at establishing a declaration recognizing the rights of indigenous populations whose social, cultural, and economic conditions set apart from the rest of national communities.

Meeting of the Special Committee on Summit Management

The Special Committee on Summit Management held a meeting on February 18, 2000, in which it reviewed the activities carried out in the pursuit of this initiative. Representatives of indigenous peoples were able to voice their views on the subject. In particular, the presentations referred to the transversal nature of participation by indigenous peoples in the deliberations on the agenda for the Summit and the importance of taking this sector of society’s views into account in all areas. Similarly, the representatives of civil society highlighted the importance of the proceedings of the Working Group on the Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Populations, and insisted on continuing the established process by which indigenous representatives are enabled to participate in the discussions on that Declaration.

Inter-American Indian Institute (IAII)

The Inter-American Indian Institute (IAII) has undertaken a series of initiatives to broaden and strengthen forums for reflection and dialogue on indigenous issues in the Americas. In May 1999, the IAII sponsored the "Continental Forum of Indigenous Women of the Americas," attended by indigenous women representing 23 indigenous peoples from 14 OAS member states.

In October 1999, the IAII organized the "Continental Gathering on Teaching the Indigenous Languages of the Americas." Among the major issues discussed was certification of knowledge of indigenous languages in light of the increasing demand for indigenous interpreters in courts of law throughout the Hemisphere. As a result of this meeting, the IAII was charged with creating a cyber-network among indigenous language teachers in the Americas as a forum for the exchange of information, as well as with producing a bi-monthly bulletin.

The IAII also completed and published a first-of its-kind, 1,000 page comparative study of indigenous rights in Latin America titled "Indigenous Peoples and Constitutional Rights in Latin America."

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Second Meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development (CIDS)

The second meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development (CIDS) took place on October 13-15, 1999. The Committee studied the report presented by the OAS Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment on the implementation of the different initiatives of the 1996 Santa Cruz, Bolivia, Summit. The report describes the progress made with the mandates given to the OAS and contains projections for the future. The concerns of the smaller Caribbean States regarding sustainable development and the problem of climate change were analyzed, and a discussion took place regarding follow-up actions in connection with the Santa Cruz Plan of Action and the Inter-American Program of Sustainable Development. In this regard, the governments at the meeting agreed to have a five year review of progress on the implementation of the Plan of Action of Santa Cruz. This would be part of the process involving a meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development (CIDS) in the year 2000, and a Ministerial/High level meeting in the year 2001.

During the Committee’s meeting, member states adopted seven resolutions, which are summarized below:

1 Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network: This resolution recognizes the importance of creating an Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN). With broad participation by institutions and experts from the member states, this network will develop a program that will reflect the participants’ national, regional, and sub-regional priorities and emphasize the development of the technological mechanisms needed to facilitate the exchange of information among the participants.

The first meeting of the Network Council took place in Miami, in December 1999, with the financial support of FEMCIDI and the technical support of the USDE. On this occasion the focal points designated by the member states of the OAS agreed on the criteria for Council membership and on the composition and selection of the first Advisory Council and Executive Committee. Among the other important resolutions approved was the definition of the terms of reference for various working groups, including one to develop a long-term strategy for financial sustainability.

2. Inter-American Water Resources Network: This resolution encourages the Inter-American Water Resources Network to continue promoting exchanges of information and technology throughout the Hemisphere and to continue its cooperation activities with other national and international organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, thus promoting the sustainable management of water resources and coastal areas.

3. Hemispheric Network of Officials and Experts in Environmental Law and in their Application and Enforcement: This resolution supports the creation of a hemispheric network of environmental law officials and experts, together with the designation of national focal points.

This new Forum was conceived at the 1996 Summit of the Americas for Sustainable Development in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, as a hemispheric network of officials and experts in environmental law, enforcement and compliance, working in coordination with the OAS to:

    • exchange knowledge and experiences in environmental law;
    • serve as a focal point for cooperative efforts to develop and strengthen environmental laws, policies and institutions, and to promote compliance; and
    • facilitate training and capacity building in environmental law and its implementation and enforcement.

The National Focal Points and representatives of 22 OAS member states met in Miami on December 8 - 10, 1999, to review and approve the framework and work plan for a new Inter-American Forum on Environmental Law (FIDA). They convened over the course of three days and examined the Bolivia Summit commitment, reviewed subsequent OAS resolutions and working documents, and studied the input received during the OAS/USDE consultation process. The Focal Points discussed priorities for environmental law and policy development in the region in light of their own national experiences, and considered the comparative advantage of meeting these priorities through a regional forum for cooperative action. With the approval of a structure and initial two-year action plan, the OAS/USDE has been tasked with raising the necessary funds and giving life to FIDA over the next two years. Participants discussed the importance of continuing to engage member states through the National Focal Points and through Permanent Missions to the OAS.

The OAS Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment has worked together with the OAS Secretariat for Legal Affairs to develop a blueprint for the network through consultation with interested parties.

4. Reducing Vulnerability to Natural Dangers in the Americas: This resolution recommends that the General Secretariat increase its efforts and uses its experience, particularly in supporting the development of policies and strategic actions, including preventive measures such as cooperation in human resource training, equipment modernization, and information dissemination, and invites external contributions from the public and private sectors in order to support member states in their efforts to reduce natural disasters.

Under the OAS' Natural Hazards Project (NHP), activities include organizing and presenting workshops and consultative meetings, and preparing reports for consideration by CIDI and the Permanent Council. In addition, hemispheric plans for disaster reduction in the education and transportation sectors have been put in place with public and private sector support, and hemispheric conferences are being organized for presentation this year with collaboration from the United Nations system, regional and bilateral institutions and the private sector. Moreover, technical cooperation activities continue using external funds dealing with vulnerability reduction in small island developing states in the Caribbean (SIDS), small valleys in Central America, and the education and transportation sectors.

On March 20-22, 2000, The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Coastal Services Center in Charleston, South Carolina hosted the South Carolina Vulnerability Assessment Techniques Workshop co-sponsored by the OAS Unit for Sustainable Development. Participants identified and evaluated techniques to assess natural hazard vulnerability for use in development planning and project implementation. They also identified gaps in existing knowledge and learned where new or better assessment techniques are needed.

5. Inter-American Strategy for Public Participation in Decision-Making for Sustainable Development: This resolution establishes a CIDS working group, comprising the ISP’s national focal points and/or permanent missions to the OAS that want to participate, and asks the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment (USDE) for support in finalizing the ISP. It also calls for a meeting of the working group at OAS headquarters, before November 16, 1999, to finalize the ISP’s draft documents. (Please see the initiative under Civil Society.)

6. Climate Change: This resolution recommends that USDE support the member states in creating a regional climate change center for the Caribbean. Several of the delegates to the CIDS requested that the role of the OAS in the topic of climate change should focus on technical assistance and capacity building for member states in the area of adaptation to climate change. Specifically, delegates considered that the Secretariat could promote the exchange of information and experiences through convening technical conferences and workshops and attempt to secure external funding for its activities in this area. In addition, the delegates called on the Secretariat to continue technical support of Caribbean countries in preparing to cope with the impacts of climate change, through vulnerability assessment, and adaptive planning. The delegates of the small island states requested the Secretariat to keep itself up to date on the climate change debate at the international and regional levels in order to support the Caribbean region activities in this area.

In accordance to the mandates of AG/RES. 1674, Climate Change in the Americas, CIDI will report to the thirtieth regular session of the General Assembly on the implementation of this resolution.

During 2000, USDE will continue with the implementation of the Caribbean: Planning for Adaptation to Global Climate Change (CPACC) Project. In the context of this project, the USDE will support several training events to improve public awareness on the issues of climate change, specially, for private sector and media from the Caribbean.

In addition, the USDE will consult Caribbean member states and regional institutions on a strategy to establish a permanent institutional capacity in the Caribbean to address Climate Change issues. Subsequent to the consultation, the USDE could develop a proposal for the establishment of a regional climate change center.

7 Ministerial Meeting: CIDS welcomed the kind offer made by the Government of Bolivia to host a Ministerial/High level meeting in the latter half of 2001, on the fifth anniversary of the Santa Cruz Summit, to further the implementation of sustainable development in the hemisphere. It also agreed that a CIDS meeting should take place in 2000 not only to prepare for the 2001 meeting in Bolivia, but also to consider newly emerging issues and a multi-year thematic program of work for CIDS beyond 2001.

COOPERATION

At the Fourth Regular Meeting of CIDI and the succeeding twenty-ninth regular session of the General Assembly in Guatemala in June 1999, resolutions were approved with the aim of strengthening the Inter-American mechanisms for sectoral policy dialogue, specifically through the strengthening of Inter-American Committees under CIDI. The roles and functions, as well as standardized rules of procedure for such Committees were established, and budgetary resources for their meetings were approved. Inter-American Programs in the areas of education and science and technology were approved. Three meetings of Inter-American Committees have been held, all in the month of October 1999: the First Meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Ports in Guatemala, the Second Meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development at OAS headquarters, and the Second Meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Science and Technology in Acapulco, Mexico.

As a result of these meetings, Ministerial level gatherings will be convened in the area of sustainable development in Bolivia before the end of 2001, and in science and technology also in 2001. In the meantime, the Meeting to Follow-Up on the decisions adopted at the Eleventh Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor was held in Washington D.C. on February 2000, in accordance with the conclusions of the previous Ministerial meeting in 1998. The First Meeting of Ministers of Tourism under the auspices of CIDI that had been scheduled for December 1999, and which is to include the participation of the private sector has had to be postponed for the time being. At this time, further Inter-American meetings in 2000 in the areas of education and social development remain pending.

Creation of the American Agency for Cooperation and Development

The American Agency for Cooperation and Development was established at a Special OAS General Assembly held November 15, 1999. This new OAS Agency, coming under the auspices of CIDI, began operations on January 1, 2000. The Executive Secretariat will remain part of the OAS General Secretariat and is expected to provide a more integrated approach to cooperation and development within the inter-American system as a whole. The Agency is specifically designed to complement, at the operational level, the Organization’s role in policy dialogue and the convocation of high-level meetings on hemispheric development issues. In addition to its principal emphasis on the planning and implementing of cooperation projects, it will give very high priority to promoting institutional strengthening in the member states, human resource development through training and fellowships, and mobilization of additional human and financial resources for Inter-American cooperation.

The Agency elected its first board of directors on February 22. Nine countries were elected to the board: Costa Rica, Antigua and Barbuda, Nicaragua, Canada, and Mexico to two-year terms while Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, Venezuela and Argentina will each serve one year. The board members were elected as the Permanent Executive Committee of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CEPCIDI) convened in special session.


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