office of the Summit Follow-up - OAS

 

PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN SUMMITS MANAGEMENT

OEA/Ser.G CE/GCI-132/98 rev. 2
13 May 1998
Original: Spanish

FOURTH REPORT OF THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN
SUMMITS MANAGEMENT TO MINISTERS OF FOREIGN RELATIONS
PURSUANT TO RESOLUTIONS AG/RES. 1349 (XXV-O/95),
AG/RES. 1377 (XXVI-O/96), AND AG/RES. 1448 (XXVII-O/97)

BACKGROUND

The General Assembly created the Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management by means of resolution AG/RES. 1349 (XXV-O/95), and assigned it the mandate of providing effective, timely and appropriate follow-up to the activities entrusted to the Organization by the Heads of State and Government in the Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas.

That resolution also instructed the Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management to provide written reports to Ministers of Foreign Relations, through the Permanent Council, on progress in its implementation. This mandate was reaffirmed by the General Assembly by resolutions AG/RES. 1377 (XXVI-O/96) and AG/RES. 1448 (XXVII-O/97).

The General Assembly also asked the Special Committee to request and receive reports on a regular basis from any organ, agency, or entity of the OAS and to comment on these reports and provide specific guidance, direction, and tasking to these organs, agencies and entities in accordance with its mandate.

PROCEEDINGS

Accordingly, views were exchanged over five meetings on each of the initiatives contained in the Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas in which the Organization has played an important role. For that purpose, the Chair requested that the organs, agencies, and entities prepare reports on their activities under the initiatives. These reports were presented and commented upon by the delegations./

On December 19, 1997, the Chair of the Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management presented to the Permanent Council a document (CP/doc.2994/97) on the tasks undertaken by the Organization in fulfillment of the initiatives of the Summit of the Americas and the views expressed by the various delegations.

On May 4, 1996, the Special Committee considered reports presented by the organs, agencies, offices and units of the General Secretariat, and entities of the Organization. Those reports, together with document CP/doc.2994/97, constitute the present Report to Ministers of Foreign Relations pursuant to resolutions AG/RES. 1349 (XXV-O/95, AG/RES. 1377 (XXVI-O/96) and AG/RES. 1448 (XXVII-O/97).

This report covers activities of the organs, agencies, and entities of the OAS pursuant to the initiatives of the Miami Summit through February 28, 1998.

However, reference is also made to activities carried out after that date but before the Second Summit of the Americas on initiatives in the areas of free trade, telecommunications, and sustainable development.

In response to the mandate to present a written report, I am pleased to submit to the Permanent Council for consideration by the foreign ministers the Report of the Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management.

I. PRESERVING AND STRENGTHENING THE COMMUNITY OF DEMOCRACIES IN THE AMERICAS

INITIATIVE 1. STRENGTHENING DEMOCRACY

The Heads of State and Government stated in their Declaration of Principles:

"The Charter of the OAS establishes that representative democracy is indispensable for the stability, peace and development of the region. It is the sole political system which guarantees respect for human rights and the rule of law; it safeguards cultural diversity, pluralism, respect for the rights of minorities, and peace within and among nations. Democracy is based, among other fundamentals, on free and transparent elections and includes the right of all citizens to participate in government. Democracy and development reinforce one another.

We reaffirm our commitment to preserve and strengthen our democratic systems for the benefit of all people of the Hemisphere. We will work through the appropriate bodies of the OAS to strengthen democratic institutions and promote and defend constitutional democratic rule, in accordance with the OAS Charter. We endorse OAS efforts to enhance peace and the democratic, social, and economic stability of the region."

In the Plan of Action, the Heads of State and Government agreed to:

  • Give expeditious consideration to ratifying the Cartagena de Indias, Washington and Managua Protocols to the OAS Charter, if they have not already done so.
  • Strengthen the dialogue among social groups and foster grass roots participation in problem solving at the local level.
  • Support efforts by the Organization of American States to promote democracy by:
  • Encouraging exchanges of election-related technologies and assisting national electoral organizations, at the request of the interested state;
  • Strengthening the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy so that it can provide assistance at the request of the interested state on such matters as legislative and judicial processes, government reforms (including administration of justice, technical modernization of national legislative bodies, simplification of government regulations and promotion of participation by community organizations in local democracy), and other institutional changes.
  • Encouraging opportunities for exchange of experiences among member states’ democratic institutions, particularly legislature-to-legislature and judiciary-to-judiciary.
  • Fostering understanding, dialogue and political reconciliation, at the request of the affected state and bearing in mind that national reconciliation comes from within.
  • Requesting the OAS to promote and follow up on these commitments.

Actions of the OAS

The General Secretariat, as the depository for inter-American legal instruments, has been recording the ratifications and accessions to the Protocols of Cartagena de Indias, Washington, and Managua for reforming the OAS Charter.

Since the Miami Summit:

  • The Protocol of Cartagena de Indias, adopted in 1985 and in effect since November 16, 1988, has been ratified by only one additional state since the Miami Summit--Peru in 1996. The number of states parties now stands at 28./
  • The Protocol of Washington, adopted in 1992, acquired international force upon ratification by the 20th country, Venezuela, on September 25, 1997. The number of states parties to the Protocol now stands at 21. During the period 1995 to 1997, 12 instruments of ratification or accession were deposited./
  • The Protocol of Managua, adopted in 1993, entered into force on January 29, 1996. The number of States party to it stands at 28. Between 1995 and 1997, 21 States deposited their instruments of ratification or accession./

Strengthening the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy (UPD)

The Summit commitments, reiterated in the General Assembly’s 1995 Declaration of Montrouis, has led to the strengthening of UPD, which has seen an increase in resources allocated to it from the Regular Fund, as well as substantial contributions of external resources provided by member States, observers and countries from other regions, and a number of institutions.

The activities of UPD have been devoted generally to carrying out the mandates of the Summit. Between 1994 and 1996, 92.7% of funds utilized by the Unit (amounting to nearly 33 million dollars) came from external sources, and were used to pay for special missions, including election observer missions and support programs for re-establishing peace in societies in post-conflict situations./

In 1995, the Secretary General made a number of functional modifications to the UDP structure to reflect its responsibilities in the areas of electoral technical assistance, strengthening democratic institutions, information and dialogue, and special programs.

Cooperation with electoral bodies and processes

In the area of electoral technical assistance, UPD has been providing support to election bodies in member States, primarily with respect to identifying reliable new technologies, organizing regional events for exchanging experience and knowledge, and activities to promote the institutional and juridical strengthening of electoral systems in those States that so request.

In pursuit of these goals, the Organization has supported initiatives by institutions in member States that so request. Activities have been undertaken through various forms of action with electoral agencies in Belize, Bolivia, Chile, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Panama, Peru and Venezuela. In a similar vein, a Subregional Conference on Strengthening Civil Registers in Panama and Central America was held in Panama in November, 1997, in cooperation with the Inter-American Development Bank. To date, 15 member states have received help from UPD with their electoral processes.

A prominent feature of UPD programs has been the introduction of technologies for simplifying the electoral process, reflecting a conviction that modern information processing techniques can help to ensure the efficiency, integrity and security of procedures, while reducing costs at the same time. As part of this approach, technical assistance missions have been undertaken to modernize and strengthen civil registers, which represent the prime source of information for updating voter lists in most member countries.

In 1998, a meeting of electoral officials of the Americas will be convened to exchange knowledge and promote familiarity with the use of modern electoral technologies.

Of special significance has been the Unit’s work in organizing election observer missions, at the request of the interested State. The purpose of such missions is to contribute to the transparency and smooth functioning of the electoral process. Missions are often able to recommend measures that could be adopted to enhance and strengthen electoral systems and institutions. Since 1989, the Organization has participated in 36 election observer missions in 15 member States. Of these, ten have taken place since the Miami Summit, in the following countries: Peru, Guatemala, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Nicaragua, Surinam, Haiti, El Salvador, Colombia and Guyana.

It should be noted that election observer missions have sometimes played an important role at critical moments in the electoral process in countries emerging from conflict or engaged in the transition to democracy. The work of these missions has been especially important in the context of new or recently reformed electoral systems, where they have been able to provide assistance to electoral institutions, contribute to the transparency of the voting procedure, avert anti-democratic practices, and strengthen public confidence in elections.

On a number of occasions, moreover, OAS electoral observer missions have been able, at the request of the parties involved, to serve as an informal conduit for dialogue, consensus building and conflict resolution.

In terms of resource allocation, slightly more than 27% of the funds available to UPD between 1994 and 1996 were devoted to these activities.

Mention should be made here of the Meeting of Government Representatives on Electoral Campaign Contributions, which took place in Caracas, Venezuela, on February 16 and 17, 1998.

Its agenda was as follows: Examination of electoral campaign contributions in light of political, economic, and social circumstances in the Hemisphere; Examination of electoral campaign contributions with respect to their nature and limits, their source, and an equitable process; Examination of legal provisions governing electoral campaign funding and their evolution; Evaluation of options for developing and enhancing cooperation and information-sharing in this area.

Modernizing the State: legislative institutions and processes

The Miami Plan of Action assigns the OAS the task of fostering the exchange of experiences among democratic institutions, particularly on a legislature-to-legislature basis. A number of member States have asked for UPD’s cooperation in implementing programs to enhance the supervisory role of parliaments over public finances and policy, to strengthen their legislative capacity, to articulate their roles vis-ŕ-vis the other branches of government, and to help them maintain closer touch with public opinion and the concerns of the citizenry.

Several activities have been launched, focused primarily on promoting efforts to build up a sound and systematic body of information and knowledge on how legislative institutions function. The knowledge and information obtained will help to modernize legislative institutions and provide training in legislative affairs for public officials, politicians, teachers and students of political science, and journalists, among others. These activities have included the exchange of experiences among legislators in different member countries, the publication and dissemination of comparative studies and research, and efforts to foster dialogue between academics and legislators. The Unit’s programs have also stressed the training of legislative advisors and officials, and the provision of technical assistance for legislators and parliamentarians.

In this area, UPD has been working under a number of programs with legislative bodies and/or specialized academic institutions to examine legislative functions in Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Guatemala, Paraguay and Uruguay, and has developed support programs for the regional parliaments of Central America and the Andean Community. The Unit has also worked with the University of the West Indies to provide a regional course on legislative drafting techniques for countries of the English-speaking Caribbean.

Another aspect of the Unit’s objectives and approach has been to foster exchanges of experience among democratic institutions in the member States. This has involved activities on behalf of legislative bodies, efforts to help ministries of education in developing education for democracy, and work with electoral institutions, central agencies responsible for decentralization, participation and local government, and mayors of municipalities throughout the Hemisphere. On two occasions, the OAS has sponsored the Inter-American Conference of Mayors, in collaboration with other multilateral institutions, and it took part in the third such Conference this year.

Local democracy and community participation

The Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas reflects the commitment of governments to strengthen the dialogue among social groups and to foster grassroots community participation in problem solving at the local level. This commitment goes hand in hand with the decentralization initiatives that a number of States within the region have adopted, as an instrument for implementing various kinds of public policies.

In recognition of this commitment, and of the growing trend in many countries of the Hemisphere towards more deconcentration and decentralization of power, a better balance between powers at the central and local levels, and greater citizen involvement in national issues, UPD is in the course of preparing a comprehensive hemispheric program relating to decentralization, local government and participation, on the basis of research work, exchanges of experience at meetings of experts and practitioners, training seminars, horizontal cooperation initiatives, and development of an information system.

As part of this activity, UPD attended the meeting of the Advisory Committee on the Inter-American Strategy for the Promotion of Public Participation in Decision-Making for Sustainable Development (EIP) in February, 1998. The EIP was one of the mandates flowing from the Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, in December 1996, which called upon the Organization of American States to give priority to preparing that strategy. The purpose of the meeting was to consider the plan for implementing the EIP, which covers seven activities.

Given the relationship of the EIP to the mandates of UPD in the area of citizen participation, the main objective of UPI’s attendance was to identify points of convergence with the UPD Program of Cooperation in Decentralization, Local Government and Citizen Participation and to define cooperation in specific activities of the EIP.

At the end of February, UPD signed a memorandum of understanding with the Federation of Central American Municipalities (FEMICA) to organize a meeting of experts from Central America as part of the program described above. Resources assigned by CEPCIDI will be used to hold this meeting.

In the Caribbean region, UPD took part at the invitation of the Ombudsman for Antigua and Barbuda in a regional workshop on strengthening the office of national ombudsman and human rights institutions in the Caribbean. This workshop was held from March 9 to 12, 1998, and was hosted by the Commonwealth Secretariat and the International Ombudsman Institute. Its objectives were to promote the exchange of information among the various ombudsman offices of the Caribbean and to provide training for their personnel.

Fostering democratic practices and values

The OAS has been reinforcing its efforts to foster the spread of democratic practices and values. As part of its cooperation with member States, the UPD has provided support to teaching institutions in developing education programs on democracy at the primary, secondary and university level, it has launched training programs for young political leaders, and has provided training and support for the development and application of methods and mechanisms for the peaceful resolution of disputes.

For example, UPD has cooperated in democracy education programs in Grenada, Mexico, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Peru, and Trinidad and Tobago. Through the organization of subregional events, it has also supported the exchange of experiences in the teaching of democratic practices and values in schools in Central America and within MERCOSUR. A civic education program for the Caribbean is currently under consideration. As a further example, a program to encourage dialogue and provide training in conflict management techniques is now underway in Guatemala.

Work in these three areas (Modernization of the State: Legislative Institutions and Processes; Local Democracy and Community Participation; and Fostering Democratic Practices and Values) has been conducted with a limited budget, accounting for only slightly more than 5% of the funds available to UPD between 1994 and 1996.

Dialogue and political reconciliation

In pursuit of its mandate under the Plan of Action, and at the request of the member State affected, the OAS has provided support in several instances to the process of political reconciliation, through special programs and missions to help consolidate democratic institutions and maintain a climate of peace.

The programs that have been undertaken in this area generally go well beyond the provision of conventional technical assistance or general support services, and in fact represent for the OAS a new departure of significant scope and impact, involving wide-ranging and comprehensive efforts, a major commitment of human and financial resources, and a significant presence on-the-ground in the countries concerned.

UPD has been cooperating with a number of member States that are in post-conflict situations or in the transition to democracy, providing advisory services and monitoring peace negotiations, promoting dialogue, conflict prevention and resolution, national reconstruction, the re-integration of former combatants, verifying and promoting human rights, and strengthening the democratic institutions of state and civil society.

Special note should be made of the programs and missions now underway in Guatemala (Special Program in Support of the Peace Process); Haiti (International Civilian Mission, OAS/UN-MICIVIH); Nicaragua (until June, 1997, the International Verification and Follow-Up Commission, now the OAS Program of Cooperation with Nicaragua); and Surinam (Special Mission for Surinam).

The OAS activities in Central America, and in particular in Nicaragua and Guatemala, have been recognized as making a real and effective contribution to the region’s institutional development and to the promotion of individual freedoms.

In Haiti, the OAS has been working jointly with the United Nations to implement programs for consolidating democratic institutions, in a cooperative effort has been widely acclaimed.

Finally, attention should be drawn to the results of the Mine-Clearing Support Program in Central America, an initiative that reflects the deep and growing concern of the international community over the grave consequences arising from the use of anti-personnel mines.

In terms of resource allocation, the programs described under this heading accounted for more than two-thirds of the funds available to UPD between 1994 and 1996.

For its part, the Inter-American Juridical Committee (CJI) has taken the following actions:

At its regular session in August 1994, the CJI considered a report entitled "Democracy in the Inter-American System", and transmitted it to the Secretary General for distribution to the relevant organs of the Organization. During its regular session in March 1995, the CJI considered a Supplementary Report on Democracy in the Inter-American System, and adopted a resolution (CJI-RES-1-3-95), which identified and listed the principles and standards observed by the Organization and its member states with respect to the exercise of representative democracy. It also agreed to propose several measures to the pertinent organs of the Organization for the progressive development of international law in this area.

The CJI also decided to place special emphasis on identifying and defining internationally illegal acts against the effective exercise of representative democracy and to study the responsibility of states and individuals deriving therefrom for the international illegality of actions that distort or attempt to distort electoral results, either by curtailing the right to vote or by undermining the integrity of the voting process, and to examine the relationship between the effective exercise of representative democracy, peace and international security, and human rights, and the legal scope of measures or actions that the OAS might take in light of the re-establishment of the effective exercise of representative democracy.

On February 21 1997, a seminar was held on "Democracy in the Inter-American System" in Washington, D.C. It was organized by the CJI, the Office of the Undersecretary for Legal affairs and UPD, with the participation of representatives of the Permanent Missions to the OAS and invited experts. The proceedings of that seminar were recently published by the General Secretariat.

INITIATIVE 2. PROMOTING AND PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS

In the Plan of Action of the Miami Summit, the Heads of State and Government undertook a number of commitments in the area of human rights promotion and protection, specifically to:

  • Give serious consideration to adherence to international human rights instruments to which they are not already party.
  • Cooperate fully with all United Nations and inter-American human rights bodies.
  • Develop programs for the promotion and observance of human rights, including educational programs to inform people of their legal rights and their responsibility to respect the rights of others.
  • Promote policies to ensure that women enjoy full and equal legal rights within their families and societies, and to ensure the removal of constraints to women’s full participation as voters, candidates, and elected and appointed officials.
  • Review and strengthen laws for the protection of the rights of minority groups and indigenous people and communities to ensure freedom from discrimination, to guarantee full and equal protection under the law, and to facilitate active civic participation. Support a process to review and enhance the protection of indigenous rights in OAS member states and to develop promptly an effective United Nations Declaration on indigenous rights.
  • Review national legislation affecting people with disabilities, as well as benefits and services for them, and make any changes needed to facilitate the enjoyment by these individuals of the same rights and freedoms as other members of society.
  • Undertake all measures necessary to guarantee the rights of children, and, where they have not already done so, give serious consideration to ratifying the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child.
  • Guarantee the protection of the human rights of all migrant workers and their families.
  • Take the necessary steps to remedy inhumane conditions in prisons and to minimize the number of pretrial detainees.
  • Review training curricula for law enforcement gents to ensure that they adequately cover proper treatment of suspects and detainees as well as relations with the community.
  • Exchange experiences on protection of human rights at the national level and, where possible, cooperate in the development of law enforcement and security force training or other programs to reduce the potential for human rights violations.
  • Call on the OAS and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) to establish or to reinforce programs, as appropriate, to support national projects for the promotion and observance of human rights in the Western Hemisphere.
  • Further strengthen the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights."

Actions of the OAS

Through its specialized bodies, in particular the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), the Organization has undertaken a number of initiatives to carry out the mandates in the Miami Plan of Action. Other entities of the inter-American system have also taken action in the area of human rights.

Adherence to human rights instruments

There have been no further ratifications or accessions to the American Convention on Human Rights, the Pact of San José, since the Miami Summit. It should be noted that El Salvador recognized the jurisdiction of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, on June 6, 1995. The number of States party to the Convention is 25; the last ratification came in 1993./

The Additional Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the Protocol of San Salvador, has now received nine ratifications or accessions, of which six have come since the Summit. Specifically, the following countries have deposited their instruments of ratification since that time: Peru, June 4, 1995; El Salvador, June 6, 1995; Uruguay, April 2, 1996; Mexico, April 16, 1996; Brazil, August 21, 1996; Paraguay, June 3, 1997. It should be noted that this Protocol has not entered into force internationally, since it is still short of the required eleven instruments of ratification or accession./

The Inter-American Convention on the Forced Disappearance of Persons came into force internationally in 1996. Since the Summit, the following States have adhered to it (in 1996): Argentina, Costa Rica, Panama, Paraguay and Uruguay.

The Protocol to the American Convention on Human Rights to Abolish the Death Penalty, which has been in effect since April 28, 1991, has been ratified by two additional countries since the Summit: Brazil, August 13, 1996, and Ecuador, April 15, 1998./

The Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, the Convention of Belém do Pará/,came into force internationally on March 5, 1995. It is noteworthy as the human rights instrument that has acquired the largest number of states parties to date: 27, with only one subscribing state. Since the Miami Summit, there have been 14 ratifications in 1995, 11 in 1996 and one during the current year.

The Inter-American Convention to Prevent and Punish Torture has received no ratifications or accessions since December 1994.

Indigenous peoples and communities

In this area, the major activity has focused on completing work on a draft "American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples," a task that the General Assembly assigned to the IACHR in 1989. The impetus given to that initiative in the Miami Plan of Action meant that the IACHR was able to complete a first draft in 1995. This was made the object of wide dissemination and consultation, involving governments, indigenous organizations, and the Inter-American Indian Institute. The text of the proposed Declaration was approved by the IACHR in March 1997 and sent to the Permanent Council.

The 1997 General Assembly, meeting in Lima, adopted resolution AG/RES. 1479, which urged member states "to present to the Permanent Council (the body responsible for considering the draft), by December 31, 1997, their observations and recommendations" on the draft. It went on to "request the Inter-American Juridical Committee and the Inter-American Indian Institute to transmit to the Permanent Council their comments on the Proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, taking into account any observations and recommendations presented by the member states." Finally, it called for a meeting of government experts on the matter.

The Inter-American Juridical Committee, pursuant to the above-cite resolution, examined that proposed declaration during its regular session in March 1998 and formulated observations that will be transmitted shortly to the Permanent Council.

The IACHR is addressing special attention to the situation of indigenous people, and has incorporated this topic into its efforts to promote human rights.

Programs to promote human rights

Since the Summit of the Americas, the IACHR has continued to build up its activities to promote the regional instruments for protecting human rights. It has been publicizing the functions and powers of the bodies devoted to these purposes, and has conducted training courses for public officials, academics and others interested in this issue.

By reinforcing this area of its work, the IACHR has been able not only to respond to a growing number of requests from member states, but also to establish and build upon closer or more direct links with National Human Rights Commissions, Ombudsmen and other institutions of a similar nature in various countries of the region.

The IACHR has designed a modular-type seminar for presenting and discussing procedures and jurisprudence of the inter-American human rights system, one that can be used in any member state that so requests. Such seminars have already been conducted in Brazil, Paraguay and Argentina, with the participation of several hundred justice officials from those countries, and invited officials from neighboring countries.

The IACHR has expanded its "Rómulo Gallegos" fellowship program under which young professionals can spend ten months working in its Executive Secretariat.

The Commissioners and the Executive Secretariat’s legal specialists participate regularly in technical meetings on human rights issues, and give special courses at universities and military training institutes throughout the region.

During the course of 1995, the IACHR lent its support to the National Committee for Truth and Justice in Haiti (CNVJ). The CNVJ’s Investigations Unit, made up of 50 investigators responsible for gathering information on human rights abuses, was initially headed by a professional staff member of the IACHR Executive Secretariat.

In terms of dissemination, both the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and IACHR maintain a publication and distribution service for their reports.

Pursuant to the mandate of the General Assembly, the IACHR prepared an Inter-American Program for the Promotion of Human Rights for submission to the Permanent Council. The program seeks to support and coordinate activities already underway or planned, in cooperation with inter-American organizations, national institutions and civil society. Its three major areas of activity are directed at publicizing the standards, mechanisms and jurisprudence of the inter-American system, strengthening national human rights institutions, and encouraging the teaching of human rights in education systems.

The IACHR has also continued its work with governmental human rights bodies, and in particular with national human rights commissions, ombudsmen and similar bodies in member countries. Ombudsmen and specialists from the Executive Secretariat are participating in technical meetings on human rights topics, and are offering special courses at several universities and institutes throughout the region.

Women’s rights

The IACHR has appointed a Commissioner to serve as Special Rapporteur in undertaking a study on the extent to which the laws and practices of OAS member states relating to the legal status of women are compatible with the provisions of the American Convention on Human Rights and the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man. The Special Rapporteur convened a meeting of experts in May, 1995, with the cooperation of the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights, to discuss the drafting and distribution of a questionnaire on domestic laws and practices as they affect women. In March, 1996, a second meeting of experts was held to complete preparation of the questionnaire. At the same time, the IACHR hosted a conference entitled, "Women, Human Rights and the Inter-American System: Agenda for Action", in cooperation with the Inter-American Commission of Women, the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights and the Washington College of Law.

In July 1996, the IACHR sent out questionnaires to OAS member states, seeking information on various aspects relating to the status of women. To date, 13 countries have provided the information requested. In addition, during the first half of 1997, the IACHR transmitted the questionnaire to some one hundred non-governmental organizations throughout the region.

In March 1997, at the initiative of the IACHR, the Second Inter-American Human Rights Competition was held in Washington, organized by the Faculty of Law at American University. More than 40 universities from the region took part in the event, which placed special emphasis on women’s rights. Members and staff of the Commission participated as judges.

Under its system for handling individual cases, the IACHR issued two reports with its Annual Report for 1996 that dealt with violations of women’s human rights, and it has begun to receive more petitions alleging gender-motivated violence. In addition, the Commission’s activities of monitoring and producing special reports on the human rights situation in member states now includes specific consideration of the status of women’s rights.

During its last regular session (1998), the IACHR considered and approved the Report of the Special Rapporteur on Women’s Rights, which examines legislation and practice in member states in terms of their compliance with the obligations to respect women’s rights as established in the American Convention and the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man.

It also provides information on ways in which the inter-American human rights system can be used to remedy legislative shortcomings affecting the rights of women, and presents a number of preliminary conclusions on such issues as institutional and legal guarantees, juridical capacity, the right to participate in public affairs, the right to life and to integrity of the person, and the right to equality before the law and to non-discrimination. The report concludes with a number of recommendations relating to the elimination of de facto and de jure discrimination and its consequences, and to fulfillment of the objectives that underlie the regional system. The IACHR has also urged member states to identify practices that by purpose or effect discriminate on the basis of gender, and to reform their legislation to remove these defects before the year 2000. It has also called upon member states to assess the legal remedies available within domestic legislation, and to enhance and strengthen their availability and effectiveness. The report will be published and included in full in the Annual Report of the IACHR for 1997, which will be submitted to the OAS General Assembly in Caracas.

In terms of future work, the Report suggests that this should concentrate on the problem of violence against women, and the use of the mechanisms of the inter-American human rights system to prevent, punish and eradicate such violence.

The IACHR has decided to set up a Voluntary Fund on Women’s Rights, which is open to contributions from member states, observers, multilateral bodies, cooperation agencies, foundations and private individuals.

Rights of the disabled

Within the OAS framework, the consideration and adoption of a draft Inter-American Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination by Reason of Disability has been a prime focus of activity in the period since the 1994 Summit. The initiative, which was presented by Panama, has already been the subject of comments and observations from several member states, from the Inter-American Juridical Committee, PAHO, the IACHR Executive Secretariat, and a number of non-governmental human rights organizations.

Pursuant to resolution 1487, approved in Lima by the General Assembly, the Permanent Council’s Working Group on the situation of people with disabilities was to hold a special meeting with legal experts and other representatives of member states, with a view to preparing the draft Convention for submission and consideration at the twenty-eighth regular session of the General Assembly in 1998. That meeting was in fact held on March 3 and 4, at which time the Group approved several articles of the proposed convention.

Children’s rights

The Inter-American Children’s Institute (IIN) has been engaged since the Miami Summit in an effort to promote the rights of the child. Once it has completed its inventory of all activities underway in the organs and agencies of the inter-American system relating to the situation of children, the IIN will be preparing, for submission to the next General Assembly, a program of concerted action on behalf of children in the Americas, "to improve living conditions for all children in the region, on the social as well as on the economic, educational, scientific, and technological levels, and to promote strict observance of all their rights", pursuant to resolution 1522, adopted at Lima by the General Assembly.

The IIN also participated in the Summit on behalf of Children of Latin America and the Caribbean, which the Colombian government hosted in March 1998. The topics on the agenda included child labor, family violence, involvement of children in armed conflicts, and sexual exploitation. On this last point, the IIN has undertaken its own work on the sexual exploitation of children. To this end, it has hired an independent consultant to prepare a framework document to serve as a starting point for discussion in a seminar on the issue, which will receive financial support from the IDB.

It should be noted that in its recent Annual Reports, the IACHR has made specific reference to problems that affect children, such as those facing "street kids", the conditions of children under detention, the sexual exploitation of children, and socioeconomic rights, in particular the rights to health and education, and the rights of indigenous youth.

Rights of migrant workers

In May 1996, the IACHR undertook to consider the question of human rights for migrant workers and their families, with a view to preparing a report on the issue. The OAS General Assembly, at its Panama meeting, adopted resolution 1404, which called on the IACHR to conduct an assessment of the situation of this group.

The IACHR set up a working group composed of commissioners and legal specialists from its Executive Secretariat, with a mandate to study the situation of migrant workers and their families, but without going into such problems as "internal displaced persons", "persons without a country", or "refugees".

The Working Group has completed the initial phase of its work, which consisted of establishing contact with international, regional and domestic organizations that concern themselves with migrant workers, in order to gather information on the problems affecting such persons.

The Group is currently engaged in analyzing the information supplied by those organizations, and will be pursuing its consultations with various bodies in an effort to expand that information base. It will also be preparing a separate questionnaire to be sent to government and non-governmental organizations that interact on a daily basis with migrant workers, in order to obtain a first-hand assessment of their situation.

On the basis of this background, the IACHR will prepare an evaluation report on the situation of migrant workers and their families.

During its ninetieth regular session, the IACHR considered the progress report on issues relating to the Report on Migrant Workers, and approved a series of questionnaires to be sent to OAS member states, as well as to specialized inter-governmental and non-governmental agencies on the topic.

In order to reinforce the IACHR’s activities in this area, it was decided to establish a Voluntary Fund on migrant workers and their families, which is open to contributions from member states, observers, multilateral bodies, cooperation agencies, foundations and private individuals.

Prison conditions

The IACHR has established a Working Group to examine conditions of detention in the Americas. Once the study is completed, the Commission intends to issue a report and prepare an instrument to establish a uniform organizational code and a set of minimum standards, consistent with international law, that could serve as a model for member states in their penitentiary administration and the treatment of prisoners.

Questionnaires have been sent out to member state governments, seeking information on prisons and prison conditions under their jurisdiction. The questionnaires have also been distributed to non-governmental organizations interested in prison conditions in the Hemisphere. To date, 26 member states and 14 non-governmental organizations have sent in their replies.

The IACHR has conducted on-site visits to prisons and detention centers in several countries, both as part of its general observer visits and under special missions specifically devoted to this purpose, in order to gain a first-hand appreciation of the conditions under which prisoners are held.

The General Assembly, in resolution AG/RES. 1404 (XXVI-O/96), decided to "recommend to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights that it continue to give priority to adoption of the necessary measures to remedy the situation of persons held in custody awaiting trial and the overcrowding of prisons, and to request that the Commission present a report on these topics to the General Assembly at its next regular session".

During 1997, the Working Group continued its evaluation work, with a view to preparing a report on "Prison Conditions in the Americas", for submission to the General Assembly.

In 1998, the IACHR has proceeded with preparation of its special report on "Conditions of detention and imprisonment in the Americas", which is being drafted by two commissioners.

Training of law enforcement officers and security forces

The IACHR took part in a meeting hosted in Panama in July of this year by the Inter-American Institute of Human Rights and the United States Southern Command, in which civilian and military officials of twelve countries participated. Government representatives agreed at that meeting that training for law enforcement officers and security forces should be based on national plans that include instruction in the human rights dimension.

The IACHR has also conducted a number of special visits and discussions with military instruction centers in the region, with respect to the curriculum for human rights training given to military and security officers.

Strengthening the Inter-American Human Rights System

At the Summit of the Americas, governments committed themselves to continue strengthening the IACHR and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In its 1995 Declaration of Montrouis, the General Assembly stated its conviction "that the inter-American system has valuable experience and well-earned prestige in the promotion and protection of human rights, which warrants decisive member state support for its bodies, including the allocation of increased financial and human resources, as well as an evaluation of how the inter-American human rights system operates. The purpose here is to initiate reflection leading to its improvement, including the possibility, if necessary, of amending the pertinent instruments, especially the American Convention on Human Rights".

The 1996 General Assembly instructed the Permanent Council "to evaluate the workings of the inter-American system for the protection and promotion of human rights so as to initiate a process leading to its improvement, possibly by modifying the respective legal instruments as well as the methods and working procedures of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, for which it shall request the cooperation of the Commission and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. …"

During the course of 1996 and 1997, the various aspects of the mandate to evaluate the system have been carefully analyzed. In this connection, a number of initiatives are worthy of mention: the Secretary General presented the document entitled, "Toward a new Vision of the Inter-American Human Rights System" (CP/doc.2828/96 of November 26, 1996); the Secretariat of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights, at the request of the Permanent Council’s Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs (CAJP), has prepared a document entitled, "The Court and the Inter-American Human Rights System: Outlook and Challenges" (OEA/Ser.G, CP/CAJP-1130, of November 26, 1996); the IACHR organized a seminar on the "Inter-American System for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights", which was held in Washington, December 2 to 4, 1996, and the Permanent Council’s CAJP held a special session with government experts, April 2 to 4, 1997.

The 1997 General Assembly adopted two resolutions relating to the Organization’s activities in this area: AG/RES. 1488 (XXVII-O/97), entitled "Evaluation and Improvement of the Workings of the Inter-American System for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights", and AG/RES. 1489, entitled "International Promotion of Human Rights in the Inter-American System". The first resolution instructed the Permanent Council, "with a view to strengthening and improving the inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights, [to continue] its comprehensive consideration of the various aspects of that system, formulating recommendations, as appropriate and through the corresponding organs, concerning possible reforms of the applicable legal instruments". The second resolution welcomed the conclusions of the special meeting of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs on international promotion of human rights in the inter-American system, and requested the IACHR to prepare a draft inter-American program for the international promotion of human rights, to be submitted to the Permanent Council for consideration.

Consistent with the priority objective of the Plan of Action for strengthening the system, the IACHR has conducted a broad and growing range of activities under its mandate to promote and defend human rights in the Hemisphere. Since 1995, the IACHR’s work has expanded in the following manner: since the beginning of 1995 the Commission has held an annual average of more than three regular and special sessions, which were also of increased duration; 11 general or subject-specific on-site observer missions have been conducted, as well as various special visits to make contact with authorities and monitor compliance with agreements. In addition, the number of cases taken up and decided regarding requests to governments for precautionary measures, and the number of friendly settlement procedures have also increased.

The Commission has been very active in dealing with the protection of human rights through its system for receiving individual petitions. In this connection, it is worthy of note that the Commission’s 1995 Annual Report contained nine cases that were approved for publication, while the 1996 Annual Report published a total of 31 reports.

In 1995 and 1996 the Commission and the Court have substantially strengthened their mutual ties, as a result of the greater number of cases that the Commission has referred to the Court, and the provisional measures that have been requested. Coordination between these two organs of the inter-American system has also benefited from joint Commission-Court meetings, which have provided a solid framework in which to share experiences and coordinate activities.

During 1997, the full Court and its secretariats held a working meeting at the Court’s headquarters in San José, Costa Rica, with several of the commissioners and the secretaries of the Inter-American Commission.

At that meeting, several important decisions were taken on procedural and institutional questions, including the preparation of proposals for the next meeting on victims’ representation before the Court, as well as the idea of submitting reports to the OAS General Assembly so that the agenda of its sessions can contain a chapter or sub-chapter for discussion of compliance with Court judgments and Commission resolutions, with a prior hearing of the states involved.

The Seminar organized by the IACHR came to a series of conclusions on improving the inter-American human rights system. These conclusions indicate that improvement should focus on modifying the rules and regulations governing the system’s organs, recognizing that the problems from which the system suffers are primarily procedural, and their solution does not require any reform or modification to the text of the Pact of San José itself.

In this respect, the Court revised its Rules of Procedure during its twenty-third regular session, and issued a new version, which came into effect on January 1, 1997. These Rules of Procedure have succeeded in reorganizing proceedings before the Court to adapt them more closely to the nature of international human rights cases and to speed up proceedings by eliminating certain procedural steps that relate more to international disputes between states. Nevertheless, the most radical change was the reform that gives victims of human rights violations or their families the right to participate directly and independently of the Commission in the reparations stage of Court proceedings.

With this reform, the Court has given partial effect to General Assembly resolution AG/RES. 1488.

Another measure that the Court has taken to strengthen the system was to expand the number of its sessions to five in 1997.

Currently, with the increasing number of cases referred to the Court from the Commission (two in 1997, and two more during the present year), there are now 28 cases pending before the tribunal.

The Commission has also increased its activities and working relations with national entities, as well as those of the OAS, the United Nations system, and other regional systems.

With respect to the Court, the following activities during 1997 are worthy of note:

  • Meeting with the European Court of Human Rights on November 4 and 5, at which time members of the two courts discussed issues of common interest, and in particular reviewed their recent regulatory and jurisprudence trends, the effects of the entry into force of Protocol XI, and changes in the structure of the European Court, as well as possible modifications to the inter-American system of human rights.
  • Signing of a Cooperation Agreement with the International Institute of Human Rights, on July 8.
  • Agreement with the Danish Center of Human Rights, under which the Legal Department of the Court’s Secretariat will be provided with the professional services of a European lawyer.
  • Cooperation with the Costa Rican Association of International Law in establishing the "Eduardo Jiménez de Aréchaga Inter-American Human Rights Competition".

INITIATIVE 5. COMBATING CORRUPTION

The Heads of State and Government declared in Miami that:

"Effective democracy requires a comprehensive attack on corruption as a factor of social disintegration and distortion of the economic system that undermines the legitimacy of political institutions."

In the Miami Plan of Action, the Heads of State and Government agreed as follows:

"Governments will:

  • the support of the IDB and other international financial institutions Promote open discussion of the most significant problems facing government and develop priorities for reforms needed to make government operations transparent and accountable.
  • Ensure proper oversight of government functions by strengthening internal mechanisms, including investigative and enforcement capacity with respect to acts of corruption, and facilitating public access to information necessary for meaningful outside review.
  • Establish conflict of interest standards for public employees and effective measures against illicit enrichment, including stiff penalties for those who utilize their public position to benefit private interests.
  • Call on the governments of the world to adopt and enforce measures against bribery in all financial or commercial transactions with the Hemisphere; toward this end, invite the OAS to establish liaison with the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions.
  • Develop mechanisms of cooperation in the judicial and banking areas to make possible rapid and effective response in the international investigation of corruption cases.
  • Give priority to strengthening government regulations and procurement, tax collection, the administration of justice and the electoral and legislative processes, utilizing where appropriate.
  • Develop within the OAS, with due regard to applicable treaties and national legislation, a hemispheric approach to acts of corruption in both the public and private sectors that would include extradition and prosecution of individuals so charged, through negotiation of a new hemispheric agreement or new arrangements within existing frameworks for international cooperation."

Actions of the OAS

Two mandates were directed squarely at the Organization: establishing liaison with the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions, and developing a hemispheric approach to acts of corruption in the public and private sectors through negotiation of a new hemispheric agreement. Action has been taken on both of these fronts.

With respect to the first mandate, initial contact has been made with the OECD, and information is being exchanged between the OAS Secretariat for Legal Affairs and the competent bodies of the Paris-based organization.

As to the second commitment, the principal achievement to date has been the adoption, in Caracas, Venezuela on March 29,1996, of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, which represents the first international legal instrument of its kind. The fact that it came into effect so quickly - on March 6, 1997, thirty days after deposit of the second ratification - is eloquent proof of the success that has attended this legal framework for cooperation in the fight against corruption. To date, the agreement has 24 signatories and 9 states parties./

The Convention has also helped states to make progress in developing and improving the definition of crimes of corruption, which in some cases, such as illicit enrichment and transnational bribery, do not now appear in the national legislation of every country. The Inter-American Juridical Committee has been charged with drawing up model legislation on these activities, and is to submit the results of its work in March, 1998.

In August 1996, the Committee examined a number of reports submitted by its members, as well as the paper entitled "Some Elements for the Preparation of Model Legislation on Illicit Enrichment and Transnational Bribery" (CJI/doc. 15/97), prepared by the Department of International Law of the Secretariat for Legal Affairs, and issued resolution CJI/RES. 1-1/97 approving the rapporteurs’ report on "Elements for the Preparation of Model Legislation on Illicit Enrichment and Transnational Bribery" (CJI/SO/I/doc.12/97), as an initial contribution by the Committee to the subsequent drafting of model legislation in this area.

During its fifty-first session, held in August 1997, the Juridical Committee discussed and adopted resolution CJI/RES.13/LI/97 entitled "Model Legislation on Transnational Bribery and Illicit Enrichment", in which it decided to examine the most appropriate way that the Committee could contribute to the development of domestic law covering conduct relating to transnational bribery and illicit enrichment.

Bearing in mind the terms of the Convention, and in particular the provisions that imply the taking of State action, both domestically and in the context of international cooperation, the 1997 OAS General Assembly in Lima approved the Inter-American Program for Cooperation in the Fight Against Corruption, which calls for actions to improve legal instruments for combating corruption, to strengthen institutions responsible for the struggle against this scourge, to intensify links with other international agencies, and to enlist the participation of civil society in this area. The General Assembly entrusted these tasks to the OAS Secretariat for Legal Affairs, under the supervision of the Permanent Council. Finally, it should be noted that the General Secretariat, through the Secretariat for Legal Affairs, maintains a documentation center with anti-corruption legislation from many countries of the Hemisphere.

At the Meeting of Government Representatives on Electoral Campaign Contributions the following recommendations were adopted: to continue the work of compiling the laws and regulations in regard to campaign financing; to promote the exchange of information on laws and regulations on this subject; to provide consulting services regarding laws and regulations at the request of interested member States; to develop model legislation and conduct comparative studies of legislation regarding electoral campaign financing; to encourage the dissemination of measures to control electoral campaign financing in the different countries; to foster the exchange of information and experiences among the agencies in each member State in charge of supervising electoral campaigns; to exchange information and projects to control illegal financing across national borders; to promote meetings among academic centers and other institutions of the civil society with a view to analyzing problems concerning electoral campaign financing; to hold a Meeting during the year in order to continue to evaluate the topic of electoral campaign financing; to urge the Permanent Council, through the Committee on Judicial and Political Affairs, to continue to study the topic of electoral campaign contributions and subsequently create a working group to address the matter.

INITIATIVE 6. COMBATING THE PROBLEM OF ILLEGAL DRUGS AND RELATED

CRIMES

The Heads of State and Government declared in Miami:

"Recognizing the pernicious effects of organized crime and illegal narcotics on our economies, ethical values, public health, and the social fabric, we will join the battle against the consumption, production, trafficking and distribution of illegal drugs, as well as against money laundering and the illicit trafficking in arms and chemical precursors. We will also cooperate to create viable alternative development strategies in those countries in which illicit crops are grown. Cooperation should be extended to international and national programs aimed at curbing the production, use and trafficking of illicit drugs and the rehabilitation of addicts."

In the Miami Plan of Action, the Heads of State and Government agreed as follows:

"Governments will:

  • Ratify the 1988 United Nations Convention Against the Illicit Traffic of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances and make it a criminal offense to launder the proceeds of all serious crimes.
  • Enact legislation to permit the freezing and forfeiture of the proceeds of money laundering and consider the sharing of forfeited assets among governments.
  • As agreed by ministers and representatives of Caribbean and Latin American governments in the Kingston Declaration, November 5-6, 1992, implement the recommendations of the Caribbean Financial Action Task Force on Money Laundering and work to adopt the Model Regulations of the Inter-American Commission on Drug Abuse Control (CICAD).
  • Encourage financial institutions to report large and suspicious transactions to appropriate authorities and develop effective procedures that would allow the collection of relevant information from financial institutions.
  • Work individually and collectively to identify the region's narcotics trafficking and money laundering networks, prosecute their leaders, and seize assets derived from these criminal activities.
  • Adopt programs to prevent and reduce the demand for and the consumption of illicit drugs.
  • Adopt effective and environmentally-sound national strategies to prevent or reduce substantially the cultivation and processing of crops used for the illegal drug trade, paying particular attention to national and international support for development programs that create viable economic alternatives to drug production.
  • Pay particular attention to the control of precursor chemicals and support comprehensive drug interdiction strategies.
  • Strengthen efforts to control firearms, ammunition, and explosives to avoid their diversion to drug traffickers and criminal organizations.
  • Hold a working-level conference, to be followed by a ministerial conference, to study and agree on a coordinated hemispheric response, including consideration of an inter-American convention, to combat money laundering.
  • Convene a hemispheric-wide conference of donors, including multilateral development banks and UN agencies, to seek resources for alternative development programs aimed at curbing the production, trafficking, and use of illicit drugs, and the rehabilitation of addicts.
  • Support the discussion the OAS has initiated with the European Union on measures to control precursor chemicals.
  • Support the convening of a global counter-narcotics conference."

Actions of the OAS

CICAD has been given responsibility for supporting national efforts to carry out the mandates from the Miami Summit.

All OAS member states are parties to the 1988 United Nations Convention Against the Illicit Traffic of Narcotics and Psychotropic Substances. Since the Miami Summit, 4 states have deposited their instruments of ratification or accession.

Anti-drug strategy

In 1995, through a Working Group chaired by Uruguay, CICAD began work to prepare an "Anti-Drug Strategy in the Hemisphere", which was approved at the Commission's twentieth regular session in Argentina, in November 1996, and formally signed by the member countries in Uruguay, in December of that year.

The strategy is significant for its comprehensive, balanced and consensus-based approach, which breaks new ground in many aspects and, within a framework of principles such as shared responsibility, establishes the parameters and rules by which the countries of the Hemisphere will frame and implement their national efforts to control drug abuse and related crimes.

In April 1997, at its twenty-first regular session, CICAD identified 40 priority tasks that the CICAD Executive Secretariat would need to need to carry out over the next two years in order to implement the Action Plan for the Strategy.

During its 22nd regular session, held in Lima from November 4 to 7, 1997, CICAD decided, on a proposal by the Canadian delegation, to hold one or more meetings in Washington, D.C., to examine the Honduran and United States proposals, taking into consideration the statements of other delegations, that a single, objective process be established for government evaluation at the multilateral level to follow up on individual and collective progress made in efforts of the Hemisphere as a whole and by all the member states, in keeping with the aforementioned Anti-drug Strategy in the Hemisphere./

Money laundering

The countries of the Hemisphere held a ministerial meeting in Argentina, in December 1995, to work out a framework of action against money laundering. They adopted a Ministerial Declaration and the Buenos Aires Plan of Action, which entrusted CICAD with several important tasks, and in particular the design of a mechanism for national self-evaluation of compliance with the agreements adopted. To this end, the Executive Secretariat distributed a questionnaire, approved earlier by CICAD, to which the member states were asked to respond on a voluntary basis. To date, 21 states have submitted the information requested.

The Group of Experts on this issue has held meetings in Washington (1996) and in Santiago, Chile (1997), and has focused its efforts on updating the Model Regulations, approved in 1992, and on identifying new criminal law provisions. It has also worked to upgrade training programs for combating the laundering of money and other assets.

Since the Miami Summit and the meeting in Buenos Aires, several hemispheric states have adopted laws and regulations to punish money laundering activities. Most countries of the region have now incorporated fully or partially into their national legislation the main principles and recommendations set out in the CICAD Model Regulations and the recommendations of the Caribbean Financial Action Group (GAFIC).

In the time since the Summit, countries have been attempting to enlist the private financial sector in their efforts to control money laundering. This initiative is helping to create a new awareness of responsibility on the part of financial institutions, which have been working through their national and international associations to adopt control measures and to train their staff in ways to contain the problem of money laundering. International financial institutions, particularly the Inter-American Development Bank and the World Bank, have become interested in this effort, and are now studying ways in which they can help states in this area, in close cooperation with CICAD. In this regard, at the last Assembly of Governors of the IDB, held in Cartagena, authorities of the Bank and of CICAD announced the launch of a training program on money laundering for government officials and bank officers responsible for such activities. This program will be the first of its kind to be offered.

Control of chemical precursors and substances used in the production of illegal drugs

CICAD, through its Group of Experts, has continued its efforts to modernize and update the Model Regulations on the Control of Chemical Precursors and Substances that were approved in 1992. At the group’s meeting in Martinique in June of this year, it was decided to review the lists of controlled products and to draw up an additional watch list of products that, while not subject to controls, are known to be used in this activity.

The chemical precursor module of the Inter-American Drug Control Communications System (SITCOD) is being implemented to encourage coordination and exchanges of information among the authorities responsible for controlling and interdicting the diversion of chemicals. Border control posts in Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Peru, and Venezuela have now been linked together by computer through this system, to facilitate control over trafficking in these substances. The remaining countries of the Hemisphere will gradually be brought into the system.

At the same time, training courses have continued to be offered in this area.

Control of contraband arms and explosives used by drug traffickers

The CICAD Group of Experts for the control of contraband arms and explosives has reached agreement on the use of standard forms for controlling exports and imports of arms and explosives, and has drawn up draft Model Regulations in this area, which were approved by the CICAD Assembly at its meeting in Lima, November 4 to 7, 1997.

The General Assembly, on November 14, 1997, at its twenty-fourth special session, adopted the Inter-American Convention against the Illicit Manufacturing of and Trafficking in Firearms, Ammunition, Explosives, and Other Related Materials.

The signing ceremony was attended by the President of the United Mexican States, Ernesto Zedillo, and the President of the United States of America, William Clinton.

The purpose of the Convention is to "prevent, combat, and eradicate the illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in firearms, ammunition, explosives, and other related materials" and to "promote and facilitate cooperation and exchange of information and experience among States Parties" to that end.

The number of signatories to the Convention is 31, and one state has ratified it./

Cooperation in the war on drugs

As a first step in support of national efforts to exert stricter control over the use of waterways, CICAD has established an information mechanism for maritime cooperation that embraces all the countries of South America. It will be extended shortly to cover Central America and Mexico. This mechanism will link up to the mechanism now being set up in the Caribbean, under the auspices of the European Union. The SITCOD/Precursors initiative is also helping to provide more effective control over river and lake routes.

Alternative development

As part of the supply reduction initiative, CICAD is proceeding with a number of projects for alternative development. These are of importance mainly for their multiplier effect and the value-added that they generate, in particular those related to the creation of market opportunities, integrated pest management, and the administration and assessment of land use. Other activities on behalf of alternative development have to do with stimulating the interest of international financial institutions in this area. Some member countries have now asked CICAD to work together with these institutions in convening donors’ meetings on alternative development.

The Working Group on this topic held a meeting in Washington in September, 1997, to consider various aspects of a strategy to suppress the supply of drugs and to propose ways of reinforcing this area of work. This working group was converted into a Group of Experts, pursuant to a decision of CICAD at its Lima session in 1997, and held its first meeting under this new capacity in February 1998.

The Consultative Group on Alternative Development is scheduled to meet in October 1998 in Peru, which is responsible for organizing the event. The IDB and CICAD will also take part. Following that meeting, it is planned to undertake work in support of the Colombian government’s alternative development programs. As well, CICAD and IICA have signed a memorandum of understanding to provide training and technical assistance for countries of the region in promoting alternative development.

It is significant that this is the first time that an international financial institution has shown interest in participating in this type of program.

Institutional strengthening

In this area, CICAD is providing direct support to national drug control councils or commissions (CNDs) by promoting national and international coordination, offering assistance in strengthening their organizational structure and helping them to prepare and draft drug control legislation, as well as implementing the SITCOD/CNDs initiative, which will allow the most senior drug control authorities in the Hemisphere to establish prompt, secure, and direct communications with each other.

Reducing demand

The Demand Reduction program covers a broad range of activities: policy formulation and analysis; human resource training and development; and new initiatives to discourage drug consumption.

Efforts to prevent drug consumption have included an Inter-American Symposium on Prevention of Drug Abuse, held in San José, Costa Rica, in May 1997.

The CICAD Group of Experts on Reduction of Demand held its first meeting in Buenos Aires, in July 1997, where it identified new courses of action that should allow a more successful approach to the prevention and treatment of drug abuse.

This Group held its second meeting in Mexico, to draw up parameters on minimum standards for the treatment of drug addiction, and to consider recent changes in the pattern of drug consumption in the hemisphere, and their implications for treatment and rehabilitation.

INITIATIVE 7. ELIMINATING THE THREAT OF NATIONAL AND INTERNATIONAL TERRORISM

The Heads of State and Government declared in Miami that:

"National and international terrorism constitute a systematic and deliberate violation of the rights of individuals and an assault on democracy itself. Recent attacks that some of our countries have suffered have demonstrated the serious threat that terrorism poses to security in the Americas. Actions by governments to combat and eliminate this threat are essential elements in guaranteeing law and order and maintaining confidence in government, both nationally and internationally. Within this context, those who sponsor terrorist acts or assist in their planning or execution through the abuse of diplomatic privileges and immunities or other means will be held responsible by the international community."

In the Miami Plan of Action, Heads of State and Government agreed as follows:

"Governments will:

  • Promote bilateral and subregional agreements with the aim of prosecuting terrorists and penalizing terrorist activities within the context of the protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
  • Convene a special conference of the OAS on the prevention of terrorism.
  • Reaffirm the importance of the extradition treaties ratified by the states of the Hemisphere, and note that these treaties will be strictly complied with as an expression of the political will of governments, in accordance with international law and domestic legislation."

Actions of the OAS

The Inter-Americana Juridical Committee has been considering the topic of "inter-American cooperation to confront international terrorism", since its session in August 1994, and in fact its activities in this area date back to 1970, when it took part in preparations for a Convention to prevent and punish acts of terrorism against individuals and related acts of extortion, where these are of international consequence, adopted in Washington, D.C., in 1971.

Pursuant to the mandates received, the OAS convened an Inter-American Specialized Conference on Terrorism. The Permanent Council, through its Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs, held a preparatory meeting to this end, in Washington, D.C., on February 27 and 28, 1996.

The Specialized Conference on Terrorism was held in Lima, Peru, April 23 to 26, 1996. It adopted the Lima Declaration to Prevent, Combat and Eliminate Terrorism, together with a Plan of Action on Hemispheric Cooperation to Combat, Prevent and Eliminate Terrorism. The Declaration condemned all types of terrorist acts, wherever and by whomever perpetrated, and all methods used to commit them, regardless of the motivation invoked to justify the acts. It stressed that terrorist acts are serious common crimes or felonies and, as such, should be tried by national courts in accordance with domestic law and the guarantees provided by the rule of law.

The Specialized Conference recommended consideration of appropriate means and mechanisms to ensure follow-up to the measures called for in the Declaration and the Plan of Action. On the basis of these recommendations, the 1996 General Assembly in Panama approved resolution AG/RES. 1399 (XXVI-O/96) that asked the Permanent Council to consider convening the Meeting of Government Experts referred to in the Plan of Action.

The Meeting of Government Experts to Examine Ways to Improve the Exchange of Information among the Member States in order to Prevent, Combat and Eliminate Terrorism, was held in Washington, D.C., May 5 and 6, 1997. The experts identified concrete measures for preventing and combating terrorism, including the exchange of information, border cooperation, and the exchange of experience in the area of training officials in combating terrorism. It also pointed to the need to define parameters and the type of information that OAS members should share among themselves, and examined the establishment of a "directory of competencies" to enhance anti-terrorism cooperation.

Subsequently, the 1997 General Assembly in Lima, Peru, approved resolution AG/RES. 1492 (XXVII-O/97), instructing the Permanent Council to examine the recommendations and proposals prepared by the Meeting of Experts, and to continue considering appropriate means and mechanisms for follow-up of the measures recommended in the Lima Plan of Action. It also asked the Inter-American Juridical Committee to continue its study of the topic "Inter-American Cooperation to Confront Terrorism" in light of the documents adopted at the Inter-American Specialized Conference on Terrorism in Lima.

On the basis of these agreements and resolutions, the CJI rapporteurs on this topic presented a preliminary report at its August 1997 session, where it was decided to continue the Committee’s consideration of the matter.

Work on this issue has continued to place stress on bilateral and multilateral cooperation between the states of the Hemisphere, examples of which include the agreements signed between Mexico and the Central American countries, and the Triple Frontier accord between Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay. Under this latter arrangement, the three countries have undertaken to coordinate action against terrorism and drug trafficking within the tri-frontier area, by setting up a database, interconnecting existing information systems, and establishing joint mechanisms to combat crime and terrorism.

Finally, in this cooperative context, note should be made of the MERCOSUR Police Council, which has been set up to study and confront common crime in the context of international terrorism.

INITIATIVE 8. BUILDING MUTUAL CONFIDENCE

The Heads of State and Government declared in Miami that:

"The expansion and consolidation of democracy in the Americas provide an opportunity to build upon the peaceful traditions and the cooperative relationships that have prevailed among the countries of the Western Hemisphere. Our aim is to strengthen the mutual confidence that contributes to the economic and social integration of our peoples."

In the Miami Plan of Action, the Heads of State and Government agreed as follows:

"Governments will:

  • Support actions to encourage a regional dialogue to promote the strengthening of mutual confidence, preparing the way for a regional conference on confidence-building measures in 1995, which Chile has offered to host."

Actions by the OAS

The Regional Conference on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures was held in Santiago, Chile, from November 8 to 10, 1995. The Declaration of Santiago on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures is the result of work carried out in the Organization since 1991, first in a Permanent Council working group and then in the Special Committee on Hemispheric Security.

The Declaration of Santiago reaffirms the validity of the principles of international law, and states that "respect for international law, faithful compliance with treaties, the peaceful settlement of disputes, respect for the sovereignty of states and non-intervention, and prohibition of the use or threat of the use of force in accordance with the terms of the OAS and United Nations Charters are the basis for peaceful coexistence and security in the Hemisphere and constitute the framework . . . for the development of confidence- and security-building measures."

The Declaration of Santiago also mentions 11 confidence- and security-building measures that governments agree to recommend for application in whatever manner is most suitable:

  • Gradual adoption of agreements regarding advance notice of military exercises;
  • Exchange of information and participation of all member states in the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and the Standardized International Reporting of Military Expenditures;
  • Promotion of the development and exchange of information concerning defense policies and doctrines;
  • Consideration of a consultation process with a view to proceeding towards limitation and control of conventional weapons;
  • Agreements on invitation of observers to military exercises, visits to military installations, arrangements for observing routine operations and exchange of civilian and military personnel for regular and advanced training;
  • Meetings and activities to prevent incidents and increase security for transport by land, sea, and air;
  • Cooperation programs in the event of natural disasters or to prevent such disasters, based on the request and authorization of the affected states;
  • Development and establishment of communications among civilian or military authorities of neighboring countries in accordance with their border situation;
  • Holding of seminars and courses, and studies on mutual confidence- and security-building measures and policies to promote confidence involving the participation of civilians and military personnel, and on the special security concerns of small island states;
  • Holding of a high-level meeting on the special security concerns of small island states; and Programs of education for peace.

The Declaration of Santiago also stressed the voluntary nature of confidence-building measures, and stated that the application of such measures could help to create a climate conducive to effective limitation of conventional weapons, which will make it possible to devote more resources to the economic and social development of member states.

The Declaration of Santiago called, as well, for continued support of the international negotiations on the prohibition of, traffic in, and indiscriminate use of anti-personnel mines. In this regard, it recognized the work of mine clearing in which the Organization of American States is engaged, with technical support of the Inter-American Defense Board.

The Declaration of Santiago also referred to the need for follow-up and periodic evaluation of the implementation of these measures, and called on the Committee on Hemispheric Security to take on these tasks, while the General Assembly would be responsible for the decision to convene a regional conference to follow up on the agreements of the Santiago conference. That meeting took place in El Salvador from February 25 to 27 1998.

The Declaration of San Salvador, besides reaffirming the full validity of the Declaration of Santiago and of the measures mentioned therein, states that the basis for peaceful coexistence and hemispheric security lies in respect for international law, faithful fulfillment of treaties, peaceful settlement of disputes, respect for the sovereignty of states, and non-intervention and the prohibition of the use or threat of force, consistent with the terms of the charters of the OAS and of the United Nations.

It also notes the important progress that has been made in identifying and applying confidence- and security-building measures since the Declaration of Santiago was adopted, progress that has helped to diminish the factors that generate mistrust and to promote transparency and mutual confidence in the region.

The Declaration recognizes the major advances made since the Declaration of Santiago with respect to sub-regional security, and in particular the commitments assumed by the countries of Central America in the "Framework Treaty on Democratic Security in Central America", and the promotion of mutual confidence and security among countries of the Cono Sur.

The Declaration mentions additional confidence- and security-building measures that states can take, in the manner most appropriate to them, such as:

  • Encouraging contacts and cooperation among legislators on confidence-building measures and matters relating to peace and hemispheric security, including face-to-face encounters, the exchange of visits, and the holding of a meeting of parliamentarians, to help reinforce this process.
  • Including diplomatic training institutes, military academies, research centers and universities in the seminars, courses and studies called for in the Declarations of Santiago and San Salvador, dealing with confidence- and security-building measures, disarmament and other issues that concern peace and hemispheric security, with the participation of governmental officials, civilians and military personnel as well as private organizations.
  • Identifying and implementing activities to foster cooperation among neighboring countries in their frontier zones.
  • Promoting the exchange of information, through such mechanisms as publishing books on defense doctrine or official documents, as appropriate, that will provide for greater transparency with respect to each county’s defense policy, and the organization, structure, size and composition of its armed forces.
  • Promoting transparency with the technical support of the appropriate international economic agencies by encouraging the preparation of studies for devising a common methodology for comparing military expenditure in the region, taking account of the United Nations Standardized International Report on Military Spending, among other sources.
  • Developing a cooperation program to meet concerns over the sea transport of nuclear and other hazardous wastes, and to cooperate and coordinate efforts in international fora to strengthen rules governing such transport and its safety.
  • Providing continued support to the efforts of small island states to meet their special security concerns, including those of an economic, financial and environmental nature, taking into account their vulnerability and their level of development.
  • Enhancing and expanding the information that member states provide to the UN Conventional Arms Registry, so as to strengthen the hemisphere’s contribution to the purposes of that registry, pursuant to the relevant resolutions of the UN General Assembly.
  • Continuing consultations and exchanges of ideas in the hemisphere for further progress in conventional arms limitation and control in the region.

With respect to implementation and follow-up to the measures proposed at San Salvador and at Santiago, the Declaration of San Salvador requests the OAS, through its Committee on Hemispheric Security, to undertake the following activities:

  1. To examine the recommendations of the High Level Meeting on the Special Security Concerns of Small Island States, held on February 25, 1998, in order to heighten awareness and understanding of the special security concerns of small island states in the Caribbean, and to continue taking action and seeking new measures of cooperation to meet these concerns.
  2. To hold a meeting at which member states can make available their people who have taken part in the group of governmental experts on the United Nations Conventional Arms Registry, so that they can provide information on the results of that group’s work, and hold a meeting to exchange views on how to achieve broader participation in that Registry.
  3. To seek through its deliberations to advance the development of the most appropriate approach to strengthening hemispheric dialogue on questions relating to the treatment of conventional arms.
  4. To attempt in its deliberations to promote development of the most appropriate hemispheric approach to strengthening dialogue on questions relating to the treatment of light arms and trafficking therein.
  5. To complete preparation of the education for peace program in the hemisphere, as agreed by the OAS General Assembly, and to put that program into effect.
  6. To foster the exchange of experiences among member states and with appropriate regional and non-regional organizations and institutions with a view to strengthening international peace and security.

Finally, the Declaration of San Salvador expresses the conviction that the Second Summit of the Americas, to be held in Santiago, Chile on April 18 and 19, 1998, is an important opportunity to consolidate the progress that has been made in building hemispheric confidence and security and for asking the OAS, through its pertinent organs, to study possible ways of revitalizing and strengthening the institutions of the inter-American system that relate to the various aspects of hemispheric security.

The OAS General Assembly has in turn adopted several resolutions relating to the measures agreed in the Declaration of Santiago, that define the framework of reference for the Organization’s work in this area.

In the first place, mention should be made of resolutions AG/RES. 1409 (XXVI-O/96) and AG/RES. 1494 (XXVII-O/97) on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures in the Americas. On the basis of these two resolutions, OAS member states have begun to provide information under the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms and the Standardized International Reporting of Military Expenditures. The two resolutions also call upon member states to exchange information on other confidence- and security-building measures, such as defense policies and doctrines; a registry of experts in security issues; the holding of seminars and courses, and studies on ways to strengthen mutual trust; agreements to invite observers to military exercises. The General Secretariat is the depository of all this information, which is available for consultation by interested states.

Mention should also be made of resolutions AG/RES. 1411 (XXVI-O/96) and AG/RES. 1496 (XXVII-O/97), which reaffirm the goal of eliminating anti-personnel land mines and converting the Western Hemisphere into an Antipersonnel-Land-Mine-Free Zone. These two resolutions give the General Secretariat the responsibility of serving as the depository of information for a complete and integrated register of antipersonnel land mines, implementation of which has already begun, under the supervision of the Committee on Hemispheric Security.

Efforts have also continued towards achieving the complete clearance of mines in Central America, under the General Secretariat’s Unit for the Promotion of Democracy. Of special importance in this regard are resolutions AG/RES. 1413 (XXVI-O/96) and AG/RES. 1498 (XXVII-O/97), which made it an objective of the OAS to complete mine-clearing in Central America by the year 2000.

The General Secretariat is also working actively with the Committee on Hemispheric Security to draw up a peace education program. Consultations have already been carried out with the United Nationals Education, Scientific and Cultural Program (UNESCO) and other institutions with experience in this area, with a view to preparing the outline of a program for approval at the time of the OAS fiftieth anniversary celebrations.

The Special Security Concerns of Small Island States, an issue referred to in the Declaration of Santiago, were the topic of a Special Meeting of the Committee on Hemispheric Security, held in Washington, D.C., on October 17 and 18, 1996. One of that meeting’s principal conclusions was to recommend convening a high-level meeting on the issue, a proposal that was welcomed by resolution AG/RES. 1497 (XXVII-O/97). The High-Level Meeting on the Special Security Concerns of Small Island States recognized that the security of small island states has a multidimensional character with respect to its scope and its application, and includes among others political and military aspects; the protection and preservation of the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of states; the need for other states and non-state parties to refrain from external interference in their domestic affairs; protection against adverse environmental conditions and ecological disasters; the link between trade, economic development and security, and the capacity to maintain and protect their democratic institutions. The high-level meeting was held in El Salvador on February 25 1998, jointly with the San Salvador Conference on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures.

It also recognized that the security of small island states can be enhanced by cooperation among island states themselves, as the Regional Security System has shown, and that it can be further strengthened through greater cooperation among island states and other states, both within the hemisphere and beyond.

Finally, it recognized that the security of small island states can be improved through the confidence- and security-building measures called for in the Declarations of Santiago and San Salvador.

The High-Level Meeting also issued the following recommendations:

"1. The General Assembly of the Organization of American States adopt at its twenty-eighth regular session a resolution which defines the approach to, and treatment of, the special security concerns of small island states consistent with the provisions of the OAS Charter.

2. The General Assembly, at its twenty-eight regular session, through an appropriate resolution, instruct the Organization to cooperate with the small island states through the University of the West Indies (UWI) to advance the examination of their special security concerns.

3. The member states of the Organization of American States, meeting at the San Salvador Regional Conference on Confidence- and Security-Building Measures in follow-up to the Santiago Conference, include in the Declaration of San Salvador the following:

a commitment to and support for such activities and programs which the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States, and the organs, agencies, and entities of the inter-American system, can continue to undertake in order to address the security of the small island states;

cooperation with the small island states in the eradication of transnational criminal activity that threatens the stability and security of the subregion;

the revision and strengthening of programs of cooperation in the event of natural disasters, or to prevent such disasters, on the basis of the request and authorization of the states involved;

the development of a program of cooperation to address the problems posed by the transportation of nuclear and other hazardous waste through the Caribbean Sea and to adopt policies to preserve the natural environment of the Caribbean;

greater financial, commercial, and political cooperation with small island states so that they will be able to assure their security and to promote their development; and

a call for member states of the Organization of American States to exchange and share information which would strengthen the security and national defense capabilities of small island states.

Finally, the General Assembly, by means of resolution AG/RES. 1500 (XXVII-O/97), on "Mutual Confidence in the Americas," has instructed the Permanent Council "to consider, through the Committee on Hemispheric Security, the desirability of approving a legal framework on the issue of advance notification of major arms acquisitions covered by the United Nations Register of Conventional Arms, as a means to achieve an effective limitation of conventional weapons that will make it possible to devote the largest possible amount of resources to the economic and social development of the member states." Pursuant to this resolution, if the Permanent Council decides that such a framework is desirable, it will "draft it with the goal of adopting it at the next Summit of the Americas, to be held in Santiago."

The actions taken by the OAS in this area show that the Organization has provided an ideal forum in which member states can consider and adopt specific measures that will help to achieve the objectives of peace and security that all countries of the Hemisphere seek.

II. PROMOTING PROSPERITY THROUGH ECONOMIC INTEGRATION AND FREE TRADE

INITIATIVE 9. FREE TRADE IN THE AMERICAS

The Heads of State and Government declared in Miami that:

"We . . . resolve to begin immediately to construct the "Free Trade Area of the Americas" (FTAA), in which barriers to trade and investment will be progressively eliminated. We further resolve to conclude the negotiation of the "Free Trade Area of the Americas" no later than 2005, and agree that concrete progress toward the attainment of this objective will be made by the end of this century. We recognize the progress that already has been realized through the unilateral undertakings of each of our nations and the subregional trade arrangements in our Hemisphere. We will build on existing subregional and bilateral arrangements in order to broaden and deepen hemispheric economic integration and to bring the agreements together."

In the Miami Plan of Action, the Heads of State and Government agreed as follows:

"We direct our ministers responsible for trade to take the following concrete initial steps to achieve the "Free Trade Area of the Americas."

6. With the objective of ensuring full and complete discussion among the parties to the various trade agreements in the Hemisphere, we direct that meetings be held under existing trade and investment fora. Members of these fora will determine areas of commonality and divergence in the particular agreements under review and should consider the means of improving disciplines among them and bringing them together. We further direct that members of these fora inform ministers of the status of their discussions and make recommendations for achieving the "Free Trade Area of the Americas."

7. Transparency in, and a clear understanding of, the subregional and bilateral agreements achieved to date among the nations in the Hemisphere are critical for advancing trade and investment integration in the Americas. We will direct the OAS Special Committee on Trade, with the support of the IDB, ECLAC, and other specialized regional and subregional organizations, to assist in the systematization of data in the region and to continue its work on studying economic integration arrangements in the Hemisphere, including brief comparative descriptions of the obligations in each of the Hemisphere's existing trade agreements. We will further direct the Special Committee on Trade to prepare a report of its work by June 1995 for the meeting of ministers.

8. We direct our ministers responsible for trade to: (a) review the progress of work undertaken in the fora noted in paragraphs 6 and 7; (b) provide guidance with respect to further work; and (c) consider areas for immediate attention--such as customs facilitation and product testing and certification with a view to mutual recognition agreements--that could be taken up in the appropriate fora."

Actions of the OAS

The OAS has for some time been making institutional adjustments to respond to the growing interest of member states in placing regional trade issues on the hemispheric agenda. On one hand, the Special Committee on Trade (CEC) was established, as a regional forum for discussing trade issues from a perspective that reflects the new reality of generalized policies in favor of liberalization and regional integration. On the other hand, a Trade Unit was created within the General Secretariat, to provide support to the CEC and to hemispheric efforts in this area.

The Trade Unit has played a very important role in terms of technical support to the process. In coordination with other institutions in the Tripartite Committee - the IDB and ECLAC - it has provided assistance to eight of the twelve working groups that have been set up to conduct preparatory work for the negotiations. Specifically, the OAS has had primary support responsibilities for the following working groups: Competition Policy; Intellectual Property; Investment; Services; Smaller Economies; Standards and Technical Barriers to Trade; Subsidies, Antidumping and Countervailing Duties; and Dispute Settlement.

The Trade Unit has provided assistance in the following ways:

  • Preparing compendiums and comparative studies on national legislation and sub-regional, regional and international agreements involving countries of the Hemisphere. These have served as a basis for identifying points of coincidence and divergence among the various different regimes.
  • Analysis of various topic under debate, such as the mechanisms needed to enable the smaller economies to participate in the Free trade Area of the Americas (FTAA).
  • Logistics support for meetings of Working Groups held at OAS headquarters.

Several points stand out from the experience of the past two years of preparatory work:

First, there is a consensus that the technical work performed to date in preparing for the FTAA negotiations is sound, and compares favorably with what had been accomplished by the time the Uruguay Round of the MTN was launched. This means that member countries now have a solid basis on which to take decisions on the launching of new negotiations.

Second, the record of cooperation among the institutions that make up the Tripartite Committee has been very positive. Member states have thus benefited from the fact that available resources have been used efficiently, and there has been little duplication of effort. In the Ministerial Declaration of Belo Horizonte, hemispheric Ministers of Trade recognized and praised the technical and logistical support that the Tripartite Committee has provided the Working Groups, and they asked it to "continue to provide analytical support, technical assistance and related studies, as requested by the respective Working Groups".

Finally, the experience has served to highlight the importance of technical assistance for many countries of the region, in particular the smaller economies, which need such help not only to ensure their effective participation in the negotiations, but also to strengthen their capacities to implement the eventual results of that process.

An example of the foregoing was the seminar on "Guatemala and the FTAA Process", hosted by the Guatemala Chamber of Commerce and the Guatemala Development Foundation, with active participation by the Trade Unit. That event, which took place in January 1998, was intended to provide governmental officials and private sector representatives with a detailed report on the principal issues involved in the FTAA, and at the same time to foster discussion between the private and public sectors about trade problems in general.

In this context, it should be noted that the OAS has been giving a clear priority to technical assistance projects in the areas of trade and integration. The Trade Unit has been working with CIDI on several projects, including a training program for government officials in commercial policy at the multilateral and regional levels, with a particular focus on the needs of smaller economies that will be participating directly in the FTAA negotiations. This is a joint undertaking of the OAS, the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Georgetown University, involving two three-week training courses each year, plus seminars on specific topics relating to the FTAA process.

The FTAA negotiating process: the outlook

Ministers of Trade, meeting in May 1997 in Belo Horizonte, agreed that the FTAA negotiations should be initiated at the Second Summit of the Americas, to be held in Santiago, Chile, in April 1998, and they agreed to recommend to Heads of State and Government that they take the necessary decisions at that time.

Considering the complexity of the negotiations, not only because of the number of countries participating but also because of the differences in size and level of development of their economies, the Trade Ministers agreed to set up an independent secretariat to support the process. At the request of the Ministers, the Tripartite Committee prepared a feasibility study of the various options for establishing such a secretariat, from the point of view of its budgetary and legal implications.

At the third meeting of the Preparatory Committee, held in Costa Rica from February 10 to 12, 1998, the vice ministers examined four basic aspects of the process: the objectives and principles of the negotiations; the structure and functioning of the negotiations; the sites of the negotiations; and the Administrative Secretariat.

At that meeting the Preparatory Committee agreed to meet at the ministerial level in March in San José to adopt the necessary decisions.

On March 19, the fourth meeting of western hemisphere trade ministers was held. The purpose of the meeting was to review and identify the elements and terms of reference required for launching negotiations to create a Free Trade Area of the Americas.

The negotiating agenda was structured on the basis of the following points:

1. Site and administrative secretariat for the negotiations

2. Chairs of the FTAA process and of the negotiating groups;

3. Structure of the negotiations; and

4. Principles and objectives of the negotiations.

On the first point, it was agreed that the site and administrative secretariat for the negotiations should rotate sequentially according to the following calendar: Miami May 1, 1998, to February 28, 2001; Panama City: March 1, 2001, to February 28, 2003; Mexico City: March 1, 2003, to December 31, 2004.

All meetings of the negotiating groups will be held at these headquarters,

It was agreed that the Administrative Secretariat, as its name implies, should be responsible for providing the necessary logistical support to ensure smooth functioning of the negotiating sessions, including translation and interpretation facilities.

The Tripartite Committee, made up of the OAS, the IDB, and ECLAC, will continue to provide technical support as requested by the Negotiating Groups. Similarly, each institutional member of that Committee may provide technical cooperation at the request of the FTAA countries.

In terms of chairing the FTAA process, the highest decision-making body will be the meetings of hemispheric trade ministers. It was agreed that the FTAA negotiations should be conducted by the Committee on Trade Negotiations (CNC), made up of hemispheric vice-ministers of trade. The chair and vice-chair for the FTAA process, i.e. for the ministerial-level meetings and those of the CNC, will rotate according to the following schedule: May 1, 1998, to October 31, 1999: Chair--Canada, Vice Chair--Argentina; November 1, 1999, to April 30, 2001: Chair--Argentina, Vice Chair--Ecuador; May 1, 2001, to October 31, 2002: Chair--Ecuador, Vice Chair--Chile; November 1, 2002, to December 31, 2004: Co-chairs--Brazil and United States.

It was agreed as well that the meetings of vice-ministers would not be held at the official headquarters for the negotiations, but rather in other cities and in various countries. These meetings will still be chaired by the country holding the FTAA chairmanship at the time.

With respect to the structure of the negotiations, there was agreement on the following new working groups, chairs, and vice-chairs for the first 18 months of negotiations: Market access: Chair--Colombia, Vice Chair, Bolivia; Investment: Chair--Costa Rica, Vice Chair--Dominican Republic; Services: Chair--Nicaragua, Vice Chair--Barbados; Public procurement: Chair--USA, Vice Chair--Honduras; Dispute settlement: Chair--Chile, Vice Chairs--Uruguay and Paraguay; Agriculture: Chair--Argentina, Vice Chair--El Salvador; Intellectual property rights: Chair--Venezuela, Vice Chair--Ecuador; Subsidies, antidumping and countervailing duties: Chair--Brazil, Vice Chair--Chile; Competition policy: Chair--Peru, Vice Chair--Trinidad and Tobago.

During discussions on the structure of the negotiations, a number of linkages between the negotiating groups were identified to ensure that the consideration of topics would take account of horizontal linkages, producing consistent results from one area to another.

An advisory group on smaller economies was formed, open to all FTAA countries. During the first term, Jamaica served as Chair and Guatemala as Vice Chair. Its tasks were to follow the FTAA process, assess the concerns and interests of the smaller economies, present to the Trade Negotiation Committee for its consideration topics of interest to smaller economies, and issue recommendations on addressing those subjects.

In order to facilitate constructive participation by the various sectors of society, a committee of government representatives was formed, open to all member countries, to receive contributions from the business sector, other productive sectors, and labor, environmental, and academic groups.

With respect to general objectives and principles and those relating to specific negotiation topics, efforts were based upon the recommendations of the respective working groups.

It should be noted that the language adopted on these matters is essentially a reiteration of the principles stated by the Heads of State and Government at the Miami Summit in 1994.

The phase of preparations for negotiation initiated in Miami in 1994 and in Denver in 1995 concluded at the San José ministerial meeting. It consisted of an exhaustive review of legislation affecting trade in its various dimensions, through the creation of 12 working groups, most of which have completed their work. As a concrete outcome, there is today a greater understanding of legislation affecting trade and of the various dimensions that impact on trade in the Western Hemisphere (investment, trade in goods, services, intellectual property, etc.). Moreover, public officials have now been trained in the subject and will be able to undertake these or any other negotiations that may arise in the future.

At the trade ministers’ meeting, it was recommended that the Heads of State and Government should signal the beginning of the negotiations.

INITIATIVE 13. TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION INFRASTRUCTURE

The Heads of State and Government declared in Miami that:

"A country's information infrastructure--telecommunications, information technology, and broadcasting--is an essential component of political, economic, social and cultural development. The information infrastructure development needs in the Americas are immense. The governments of the Americas intend to meet these needs by engaging in multiple actions, where consistent with their respective governing laws. . . ."

In the Miami Plan of Action, the Heads of State and Government agreed as follows:

"Governments will:

  • Engage in ongoing discussions at the international level of the actions referred to above and endeavor to take those actions in their own countries, taking account of domestic conditions and circumstances.
  • Undertake efforts to make government information more publicly available via electronic means.
  • Review the availability and interoperability of connections to international networks that facilitate trade, improve education and improve access to health care.
  • Encourage major universities, libraries, hospitals and government agencies to have access to these networks, building on the work of the OAS Hemisphere-Wide Inter-University Scientific and Technological Information Network.
  • Via the OAS Inter-American Telecommunications Commission (CITEL), and in coordination with the sub-regional telecommunications organizations, develop and carry out a work program to:
  • Evaluate regulatory, technical and legal means to promote liberalization, common standards, interoperability of networks and compatible use of the radio spectrum.
  • Examine ways to promote greater consistency of the certification processes for telecommunications equipment among member countries.
  • Develop regional guidelines for the provision of international value-added network services.
  • Support a meeting by 1996, coordinated by CITEL, of senior telecommunications officials to conduct further discussions of the above actions."

Actions of the OAS

In support of the objectives and mandates of the Summit Plan of Action, CITEL has reinforced several of its programming areas and, in conjunction with the private sector and other regional telecommunications organizations, has drawn up a program covering various legal, technical and regulatory aspects.

Thus, in terms of developing standards and guidelines, CITEL has worked with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) to prepare a report entitled, "Recommendations on Telecommunications Policies for Countries of the Americas", known as the "Blue Book".

The CITEL Working Group on Legal Matters currently has a project underway to identify differences in the administrative procedures of member states.

The "Guidelines on value-added services in the Americas" have been approved and work is now proceeding to draft an inter-American convention for implementation of these guidelines.

Guidelines have also been adopted to promote greater consistency among member states in their approach to certification procedures for telecommunications equipment. Implementation of these guidelines is continuing, with a view to harmonizing certification procedures throughout the Americas. An important aspect of this work has been to encourage member states to give serious consideration to the Memorandum of Understanding, sponsored by the ITU, on implementation of mobile personal communication services.

An Ad-Hoc Group has been set up to examine alternative methods for establishing international distribution rates for telecommunications services.

With respect to the guidelines for provision of value added network services, it should be noted that CITEL has drawn up standards that will help to introduce new technologies in the region, so as to take advantage of economies of scale. The documents produced to date are: "Personal communications services on Band 2 GHz (PCS)", "Signaling System No. 7 (SS7)", and "Narrow-band integrated service digital networks and intelligent networks". Similarly, CITEL is working with the ITU to compile information for a database on the allocation of frequencies (spectrum use) within the region. This database will be of great use for multilateral agreements on the assignment and management of the frequency spectrum, and for the introduction of new services.

A program has been established to implement a Global Information Infrastructure for the Americas, intended to expand telecommunication service to remote and rural areas in developing countries. As well, the activities of various CITEL Working Groups have been reinforced, such as those of the groups on Basic Telecommunications Services and Network Modernization.

CITEL has also placed increasing emphasis on coordinating joint activities with other regional organizations, such as the Asociación Hispanoamericana de Centros de Investigación y Empresas de Telecomunicaciones (AHCIET); the Caribbean Telecommunications Union (CTU); and the International Telecommunications Union (ITU). In this regard, CITEL has submitted more than 40 proposals to the ITU’s World Radiocommunications Conference, which was held in October and November, 1997.

Pursuant to the Miami Summit’s mandate, CITEL organized and supported the Meeting of Senior Telecommunications Officials in Washington on September 25 and 26, 1996. That meeting adopted a Declaration of Principles and a Plan of Action that reflect the objectives set out at the Summit of the Americas.

CITEL’s activities have suffered from the lack of additional financial resources needed to respond to the demands of the 1994 Summit of the Americas. It has been obliged to adjust its work schedule to create new programs, cancel meetings, and realign its priorities. It will be very important to CITEL's activities, including its mandates from the Santiago Summit, that financial considerations be addressed.

After consulting with member states, the Chairman of the CITEL Permanent Executive Committee (COM-CITEL) has made a number of proposals for the next Hemispheric Summit, concerning the Plan of Action. These relate in particular to harmonizing certification processes and implementing the Global Information Infrastructure for the Americas.

The OAS, through its Office of Science and Technology, has been providing support to the project for a Hemisphere-Wide Inter-University Scientific and Technological Information Network (RedHUCyT). This project has helped to make Internet connection a reality for many member countries, by providing them with technical assistance and the required equipment. It has also supported the expansion of national networks in most the region’s countries. These networks are used by institutions devoted to environmental issues. Finally, it has supported installation of satellite communication ground stations: the most recent was the one in Costa Rica, which started operating in September of this year.

The fifth meeting of the CITEL Permanent Executive Committee was held December 1 to 5, 1997, and adopted, among others, the following decisions:

– Preparation of common regional proposals for the Second World Conference on Telecommunications Development, WCTD, to be held in Malta in March 1998.

That conference is being organized by the ITU, with the primary objectives of studying the policy, operational, regulatory, technical and financial aspects of telecommunications and mobilizing resources to foster the development of telecommunications. It is expected to adopt global goals and strategies appropriate for the various regions that will include objectives, priorities and a medium-term work program for the period 1999-2003.

Below is a summary of the issues identified as priorities for the region:

1. Strengthening plans for telecommunications development in low-income rural and urban areas.

2. Human resource development

3. Radiocommunications spectrum management

4. Methodology for developing a complete interconnection

5. Regional integration through project identification

6. Methods for implementing GMPCS.

7. Use of telecommunications for preserving human life and public safety at times of disaster.

8. Telecommunications support for environmental protection.

9. Optimization of interaction mechanisms between the TDB and its members.

10. A regional conference on telecommunications development in the Americas.

11. Strengthening the regional presence of the ITU-D in the Americas.

  • With respect to a global information infrastructure, it was agreed to prepare a "white paper" on this issue, and to present a first draft by late 1998, and a final version during 1999.

The Declaration of Quito was adopted at the Second Regular Meeting of the CITEL Assembly, held in Quito from March 2 to 6 1998. The Declaration points to the following matters, among others:

  • To consolidate CITEL's capabilities, so that it can fully implement the instructions issued by heads of state in the Summit of the Americas process, in view of the fact that telecommunications is a fundamental element in the sustainable development of the region.
  • To encourage the development of basic telecommunications infrastructure as well as new telecommunications services and technologies within a legal framework that is predictable, consistent, nondiscriminatory and transparent.
  • To strengthen coordination with telecommunications bodies of the Americas in developing programs regarding infrastructure, training and research.

INITIATIVE 14. COOPERATION IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

The Heads of State and Government declared in Miami that:

"There is a need to re-assess the on-going interaction among the region's science and technology (S&T) infrastructure and cooperative mechanisms; to provide impetus for improved cooperation; to reduce barriers to collaboration; to augment the demand for technology; and to disseminate information about technological opportunities using new advances in information technology; and generally to improve communications among the key S&T organizations, researchers in the region, and growing technology-based small and medium-sized enterprises.

The commitment of the countries of the Americas to non-proliferation has gained new momentum with the acceptance of the international safeguard regime by some of our countries. The outstanding progress achieved in this field is to be commended and should contribute to enhanced opportunities for cooperation in the area of advanced goods and technologies."

In the Miami Plan of Action, the Heads of State and Government agreed as follows:

"Governments will:

Convene a meeting of ministers responsible for science and technology in the Hemisphere within the next year to assess progress and to promote the Bolivar Program and the OAS Common Market of Scientific and Technological Knowledge (MERCOCYT) program, to provide the necessary support to improve scientific partnerships and technological ventures in the region, and to explore the possibility of establishing a council on science and technology."

Actions of the OAS

The Meeting of Ministers of Science and Technology was held in Cartagena, Colombia, March 28 and 29, 1996. Ministers recommended that the MERCOCYT program should continue its encouragement to scientific institutions in OAS member countries to pool their capacities and efforts, and to establish cooperative links with international agencies, inter-American partnerships of universities and technical institutes, and the private sector.

The ministerial meeting issued the Declaration and Plan of Action of Cartagena, in which member states declared their political support for MERCOCYT; the issue of financial support remained unclear, however.

In follow-up to the meeting of science and technology ministers, the OAS, through its Office of Science and Technology (OCT), has organized a number of activities relating to the following issues: a) technological innovation, competitiveness and international trade; b) information and communication technologies; c) non-polluting technologies and hemispheric cooperation for sustainable development, and the role of science and technology in social development.

The OCT has also taken an active role in the following projects in the science and technology area:

  • Regional project on science and technology indicators. This project has helped to prepare a regional methodology for gathering and analyzing statistical data relating to science and technology indicators that can be used to establish policies to promote integral development in the region. A Caribbean workshop on indicators has been planned for the second week of December, 1997. It will allow for discussion of the role, use and interpretation of such indicators in planning future work within the sub-region in the science and technology area.
  • Inter-American System of Metrology, Standardization, Certification and Quality. The Inter-American Metrology System has been revised, in the light of visits by experts from several countries to the US National Institute of Standards and Technologies. This change will be of direct benefit to the FTAA process. It will be recalled that hemispheric trade ministers recommended that the IDB and the OAS should consolidate the Inter-American Metrology System, the Pan American Committee on Technical Standards, and the Inter-American Committee on Accreditation Institutions into what is known today as the Inter-American System of Metrology, Standardization, Certification and Quality. A number of major workshops and technical meetings have been held in this regard.
  • OAS/GTZ project for quality and productivity management in small and medium-sized enterprises. This initiative, jointly sponsored by the OAS and the German Society for Technical Cooperation (GTZ), has helped more than 1,000 industrial establishments in twelve countries to enhance the quality of their products.
  • Inter-American project for environmental technical cooperation in key industry sectors. Roundtables on agri-food and on metal processing have been held to facilitate the transfer and management of appropriate technologies. Industry representatives and financial institutions participated in these workshops. Similarly, the following round tables on environmental technology cooperation have been held or are planned:

– Metal processing (Colombia, October 21-23, 1997)

– Energy efficiency (Jamaica, December 9-11, 1997)

– Municipal solid waste (Canada, March 15-17, 1998)

– Forestry (Chile, September 25-27, 1998).

The roundtable on energy efficiency was hosted by the Canadian Environmental Industry Association and the Petroleum Corporation of Jamaica, and was attended by 59 specialists from 18 member states.

Among its conclusions were those relating to the publication of conclusions and recommendations by the OAS Office of Science and Technology, dissemination of those conclusions among national institutions, and preparation of a draft proposal by the Office of Science and Technology for follow-up to the Inter-American Program for Environmental Technology Cooperation, which is to implement the conclusions of the roundtables.

Through the OCT, the OAS has also participated in work on other initiatives approved by the Miami Summit. In particular, it has organized a regional round table on energy efficiency, to be held in Jamaica, in January 1998. Its purpose is to promote the sensible use of oil, and the partial substitution of renewable energy, and to provide a forum for the exchange of know-how within the region.

III. ERADICATING POVERTY AND DISCRIMINATION IN OUR HEMISPHERE

The Heads of State and Government made a commitment to eradicate poverty and discrimination in the Hemisphere, recognizing that "large segments of society in our Hemisphere, particularly women, minorities, the disabled, indigenous groups, refugees and displaced persons, have not been equipped to participate fully in economic life". As mechanisms for eradicating poverty, the leaders cited in particular: expand participation of the poor in the region’s economies, access to productive resources, appropriate support for social safety nets, and increased investments in human capital. They reaffirmed their support for the strategies contained in the "Commitment on a Partnership for Development and Struggle to Overcome Extreme Poverty", adopted by the OAS General Assembly.

The Miami Action Plan mentions the following initiatives for confronting this challenge: Initiative 16: "Universal access to education"; Initiative 17: "Equitable access to basic health services"; Initiative 18: "Strengthening the role of women in society"; Initiative 19: "Encouraging microenterprises and small businesses"; and Initiative 20: "White Helmets: Emergency and Development Corps".

Actions of the OAS

OAS efforts in the area of eradicating poverty and discrimination have been channeled through a number of partnership mechanisms, including forums, information exchanges, cooperation programs and projects, coordination with other agencies, and technical and administrative support. The Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI) and the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development (SEDI) have been the key instruments in this effort.

In the first place, CIDI established its Social Development Committee (CDS) in 1996, and charged it with preparing an Inter-American Program to Combat Poverty and Discrimination. The CDS hosted a High-Level Meeting on Combating Poverty and Discrimination, which was held this year at OAS headquarters in Washington. There, ministers and other senior government representatives drew up an Inter-American Program to Combat Poverty and Discrimination which, once it received the support of CIDI and approval by the General Assembly, has become an integral part of CIDI’s Strategic Plan.

Under this Inter-American Program, the OAS will support the holding of a high-level meeting on "Development and Modernization of Public Institutions and Social Management", in 1998. The OAS is also supporting the Social Network of Latin America and the Caribbean, an organization that groups together 24 social investment funds and similar institutions in the region and conducts studies and activities jointly with ECLAC, the IDB, PAHO, the World Bank and other institutions.

CIDI is also sponsoring cooperative projects to provide preparatory back-up for high-level meetings and to implement other initiatives within the framework of the Inter-American Program to Combat Poverty and Discrimination.

The OAS General Secretariat’s Unit for Social Development and Education provides technical and administrative secretariat services and prepares technical documents and program proposals for consideration by the policy bodies. It also provides technical secretariat services for the Social Network, in coordination with SEDI.

With respect to Initiative 16 on universal access to education, the Heads of State and Government recognized that "universal literacy and access to education at all levels, without distinction by race, national origin or gender, are an indispensable basis for sustainable social and cultural development, economic growth and democratic stability".

To this end, they committed their governments to ensure universal access to quality primary education; to promote worker professional training as well as adult education; to increase and strengthen the quality of higher education; to improve human resources training, and technical, professional and teacher training; and to support strategies to overcome nutritional deficiencies of primary school children, in order to enhance their learning ability.

It should be noted in this regard that ministers of education have long been meeting, first under the aegis of the Pan American Union and later, since 1948, under that of the former Inter-American Council for Science, Education and Culture of the OAS (CIECC), to exchange experiences on policies, identify common problems, and approve joint projects and other activities. The last meeting under CIECC was held in Buenos Aries in 1995. With entry into force of the Protocol of Managua (1993), which created CIDI, the latter body has now taken over this responsibility. It has accordingly convened a Meeting of Education Ministers for 1998, and is supporting, in the context of the Second Summit of the Americas, the holding of two preparatory meetings involving high-level officials from the education ministries of the coordinating countries, for which CIDI has prepared a number of technical discussion documents.

The OAS has provided support for ministerial meetings, acting as technical and administrative secretariat and assisting with the organization, conduct and follow-up of the meetings and their mandates. On instructions from the General Assembly, the General Secretariat has been cooperating in the education initiatives of the Miami Plan of Action, and in the other educational aspects of the agenda for the Second Summit of the Americas. In this area, the General Secretariat acts primarily through the Unit for Social Development and Education, and in coordination with SEDI.

Through CIDI, and with resources from the CIDI Special Multilateral Fund (FEMCIDI), member states are supporting the holding of preparatory meetings, and have approved a project of follow-up activities to the Santiago Summit in the education area, as well as a number of activities relating to mandates under the Miami Plan of Action.

INITIATIVE 18. STRENGTHENING THE ROLE OF WOMEN IN SOCIETY

The Heads of State and Government declared in Miami:

"The strengthening of the role of women in society is of fundamental importance not only for their own complete fulfillment within a framework of equality and fairness, but to achieve true sustainable development. It is essential to strengthen policies and programs that improve and broaden the participation of women in all spheres of political, social, and economic life and that improve their access to the basic resources needed for the full exercise of their fundamental rights. Attending to the needs of women means, to a great extent, contributing to the reduction of poverty and social inequalities."

In the Miami Plan of Action, the Heads of State and Government agreed as follows:

"Governments will:

  • Recognize and give full respect for all rights of women as an essential condition for their development as individuals and for the creation of a more just, united and peaceful society. For that purpose, policies to ensure that women enjoy full legal and civil rights protection will be promoted.
  • Include a gender focus in development planning and cooperation projects and promote the fulfillment of women's potential, enhancing their productivity through education, training, skill development and employment. Promote the participation of women in the decision-making process in all spheres of political, social and economic life.
  • Undertake appropriate measures to address and reduce violence against women.
  • Adopt appropriate measures to improve women's ability to earn income beyond traditional occupations, achieve economic self-reliance, and ensure women's equal access to the labor market at all employment levels, the social security systems, the credit system, and the acquisition of goods and land.
  • Cooperate fully with the recently-appointed Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, its Causes and Consequences, of the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
  • Support and actively work to secure the success of the United Nations World Conference on Women that will take place in Beijing in September 1995.
  • Encourage, as appropriate, ratification and compliance with the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women and the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence Against Women.
  • Further strengthen the Inter-American Commission on Women.
  • Call upon regional and international financial and technical organizations to intensify their programs in favor of women.
  • Encourage the adoption of follow-up procedures on the national and international measures included in this Plan of Action."

Actions of the OAS

Through the Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM), the OAS has been actively involved in all of the meetings held in follow-up to the Summit Plan of Action. Particular mention should be made of the hemispheric technical meetings on strengthening the role of women in society that were held in Montelimar, Nicaragua, in April 1997, and in Washington, D.C., in October 1997, which resulted in the adoption of indicators to be used to monitor the status of women, and proposals for a Declaration of Policy and a Plan of Action for the Second Summit of the Americas. These were subsequently considered at meetings of the SIRG (Summit Implementation Review Group).

At the Fourth World Conference on Women (Beijing, China, 1995) the CIM presented its Strategic Plan of Action, making it available for national and international fora dealing with the advancement of women.

Similarly, the CIM took part in the fifth, sixth, and seventh conferences of Spouses of Heads of State and Government of the Americas (Paraguay 1995, Bolivia 1996, and Panama 1997). At the last of those meetings, the CIM and IICA presented a joint development project for rural women, which was subsequently approved.

A central and priority concern has been to promote ratification of the Inter-American Convention on the Prevention, Punishment and Eradication of Violence against Women, known as the "Convention of Belém do Pará", which was adopted in June 1994. Subsequent to the Miami Summit, this convention acquired international force, and there are now a significant number of States Parties./ The OAS General Secretariat, as depository for the convention, has registered to date 24 instruments of ratification and three of accession.

It should be noted as well that, as a direct result of inter-American legislative initiatives, domestic violence has been formally established as a crime in the domestic legislation of several countries.

One very important undertaking of the Inter-American Commission of Women, from the point of view of ensuring broad dissemination of the Convention of Belém do Pará, has been to translate the text into other languages that are widely used in some member states, such as Aymara, Creole, Dutch, Guarani, and Quechua.

The CIM Executive Secretariat has also designed training projects for persons working in the administration of justice and for police personnel, to make them aware of the contents of the Inter-American Convention and the measures it establishes for safeguarding and protecting women’s rights. Training courses under this program have been given in several countries of the Hemisphere. The CIM has also offered its support in organizing several conferences and meetings for developing public policies to eradicate violence against women, and to document the causes and the social and economic cost of such violence. A significant event in this regard was the Conference on Domestic Violence in Latin America and the Caribbean, which was broadcast to a radio audience of more than 20 million people. The event was organized by the IDB, and was co-sponsored by the CIM and other institutions.

In order to ensure effective follow-up on this issue, the OAS General Assembly adopted in 1997 a resolution requesting the CIM Permanent Secretariat to present a report every two years on progress in the application of the Convention, and on experience and results obtained from the initiatives and programs undertaken in the member states. The first report on this matter will be considered at the twenty-ninth regular session of the General Assembly (Guatemala, 1999).

In terms of contacts with other international institutions, the CIM has strengthened its cooperative relationship with PAHO, in order to undertake activities aimed at strengthening national institutions responsible for policies on the advancement of women relating to health, family violence, and training in the planning and development of gender-focused projects.

The statute and regulations of the CIM have been undergoing a process of reform over the past year.

Another priority item on the CIM’s working agenda is to achieve equal participation for women at all levels and in all segments of society. In this respect, the CIM has been encouraging and supporting members states in organizing a number of fora and seminars for promoting women’s leadership. As well, the CIM took part in the first meeting of female ministers of state in Ibero-American countries (Chile, 1995), which considered the topic of women’s participation in political and economic policy making.

In February 1998, an Inter-American Meeting on the Participation of Women in the Structures of Power and Decision-Making was held at OAS headquarters, and was attended by more than 70 experts.

The meeting had the double purpose of promoting collective thinking about the status of women and making recommendations for ensuring greater equality of opportunity and enforcement of the principle of gender equity as key means of promoting change and raising the profile of women in political and economic decision-making bodies.

The CIM also played a notable role in the IDB’s program for Women’s Representation and Leadership, which finances projects in the public and private sectors of Latin American and Caribbean countries.

The CIM has signed an agreement with the Central American Parliament, and expects to sign similar cooperative arrangements with the Andean Parliament and the Latin American Parliament. Contacts with these legislative bodies fall under the topic of "Participation of women in the power structure", an issue to which the CIM has devoted particular attention, in accordance with the 1994 Summit mandate.

Special mention should also be made of the efforts that the CIM has been making since 1995 to intensify cooperation and coordination with other agencies of the inter-American system, and beyond that with bodies that have similar interests, such as parliamentary fora and research centers. This approach has yielded access to international funding sources, and has served to promote the exchange of specialized technical know-how.

In a similar vein, and with a view to elevating the political level at which women’s issues are handled within the Organization, the Permanent Council agreed this past November to create an informal mechanism for contact and coordination with offices of the General Secretariat, agencies of the inter-American system, and other institutions, for dealing with the status of women in the Hemisphere.

IV. GUARANTEEING SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT AND CONSERVING OUR NATURAL ENVIRONMENT FOR FUTURE GENERATIONS

INITIATIVE 23. PARTNERSHIP FOR POLLUTION PREVENTION

The Heads of State and Government declared in Miami:

"As recognized in Agenda 21, sound environmental management is an essential element of sustainable development. Cooperative efforts are needed to develop or improve, in accordance with national legislation and relevant international instruments: (1) frameworks for environment protection; and (2) mechanisms for implementing and enforcing environmental regulations. To achieve this goal, a new partnership will promote cooperative activities for developing environmental policies, laws, and institutions; increasing technical capacity; promoting public awareness and public participation; continuing to pursue technological, financial and other forms of cooperation; and facilitating information exchange, including on environmentally sound technologies. The activities of the partnership will build on and advance the implementation of international agreements and principles including those agreed to at the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development and the 1994 Global Conference on the Sustainable Development of Small Island Developing States, in areas identified as priorities by countries of the Hemisphere."

In the Miami Plan of Action, Heads of State and Government agreed as follows:

"Governments will:

  • Promote the participation of organizations, such as the IDB, IMF, the World Bank, PAHO, the OAS, and non-governmental actors and organizations, as appropriate, to finance, develop and implement priority projects.
  • Discuss progress on implementation of international and national activities described above at the 1996 Summit Conference on Sustainable Development in Bolivia and at subsequent annual sustainable development ministerials."

Actions of the OAS

In response to the mandates contained in the Plan of Action, the Pan American Health Organization organized in 1995 a Pan American Conference on Health and the Environment in the context of sustainable human development. PAHO's technical cooperation in this endeavor has been focused on follow-up to the plan of action that emerged from that conference.

In 1996, PAHO directed its efforts in the safe water supply area towards expanding the supply and coverage of this service, and improving the bacteriological quality of water for human consumption, and extending water supply and sanitation services to low income urban areas, rural areas, and indigenous communities.

With respect to solid urban wastes, PAHO has supported efforts to strengthen institutional and regulatory capacities for countries in the region, to help them cope with the processes of decentralization and privatization.

With respect to OAS work, pursuant to a recommendation of a meeting of environmental experts held within the context of the Miami Plan of Action, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, from November 6 to 8, 1995, an Inter-Agency Working Group was set up to assist governments in implementing Initiative 23. At that time, the OAS was asked to serve as technical secretariat for the Inter-Agency Working Group.

In 1996, the OAS, through its Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment, held a series of meetings that resulted in the creation of a number of inter-agency working groups to provide support for implementation of the various components of the Partnership for Pollution Prevention. The most successful of these groups was the one charged with coordinating the work of agencies and governments in gradually eliminating lead from gasoline. At the request of this working group, a meeting of focal points was held in Chile, November 4 to 6, 1996, to review efforts on this issue being undertaken in international agencies, to exchange experience and to identify needs for technical assistance.

By the end of 1996, ten countries had eliminated lead from gasoline, and four more countries are expected to do so by the year 2000.

At that point, the consumption of lead-free fuel will rise from 68 per cent to 83 per cent of total gasoline consumption.

The OAS, the Pan American Health Organization, the Inter-American Development Bank, the World Bank, and the US Agency for International Development (USAID) have been working together closely in this undertaking.

In another area, the work of the inter-agency group on water management led to the convening of a Meeting on Water Resources, held in Buenos Aires, July 18 to 20, 1996, which made significant contributions to technical preparations for the 1996 Summit on Sustainable Development.

In September 1997, the Inter-Agency Working Group set up a working group on clean production methods, which will work with countries of the hemisphere to foster the exchange of information, the transfer of technology, and the use of less polluting techniques and practices.

Through its Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment, the OAS played a major role in providing technical and administrative support in preparation for the Summit on Sustainable Development. It also contributed substantially to the Technical Commission that was set up by the Government of Bolivia to prepare the groundwork for a draft Plan of Action. In particular, the Unit coordinated work on water resources, forestry and citizen participation for sustainable development, and organized meetings on each of these topics, involving high-level experts from throughout the region. The Technical Commission prepared 11 background documents for the Summit, five of which were produced by the Unit.

The OAS Permanent Council created a Working Group on OAS Cooperation in the Summit Conference on Sustainable Development. This group held a series of meetings devoted to preparations for the Summit, and sponsored three special sessions at which experts reviewed and negotiated drafts of the Declaration of Santa Cruz and the Plan of Action for the Sustainable Development of the Americas. The meeting of plenipotentiaries to consider and approve the final documents was held at the OAS on November 20 and 21, 1996, and the documents issuing from that meeting were approved by the Heads of State and Government at the Summit of the Americas on Sustainable Development, in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, on December 7 and 8 of that year.

The Santa Cruz Summit was not designed to be an Environmental Summit as such. Rather, the complexity of the negotiations derived from the plan to incorporate the environmental dimension into an broader vision of integral development. The consensus that has grown around the concept of sustainability, and which became clear in the documents approved at Santa Cruz, has given rise to hemispheric initiatives based on a new paradigm of development.

The Santa Cruz Summit constitutes an alliance for cooperation among the states of the Americas in a shared effort to improve living standards for their peoples, based on integrated and complementary objectives in the economic, social, and environmental areas.

In the Declaration of Santa Cruz the heads of state and government reaffirmed the right of the individual to a healthful and productive life in harmony with nature, establishing this right as a central concern in matters of sustainable development.

They stated that development strategies should incorporate sustainability as an essential element in achieving economic, social, and environmental aims in a balanced, interdependent, and integrated manner.

In the Plan of Action for the Sustainable Development of the Americas, a commitment was made to 65 initiatives relating to health, education, sustainable cities and communities, water resources and coastal zones, and energy and mining.

At the institutional level, the Plan of Action entrusted to the OAS the role of coordinating follow-up on the various decisions of the Summit of the Americas on Sustainable Development. To this end, the OAS will be convening the necessary meetings at the appropriate level. In particular, the OAS, through the Inter-American Committee for Sustainable Development (CIDS), will review progress under the Plan of Action as part of its agenda. In addition, the OAS Secretary General was requested to prepare a report on progress in that area, which will be made available prior to the 1998 Summit of the Americas.

In addition, the heads of state and government requested that the various organs, agencies, and entities of the United Nations system and of the inter-American system develop suitable mechanisms by which to collaborate and coordinate with the OAS within their respective areas of action and mandates, to support national, regional, and hemispheric efforts toward sustainable development.

The Plan of Action also includes mandates related to funding, transfer of science and technology, and public participation.

The OAS General Assembly, at its twenty-seventh regular session, held in Lima in 1997, adopted the following resolutions relating to the Santa Cruz Summit: AG/RES. 1513 (XXVII-O/97) on the Program for Sustainable Development and AG/RES. 1514 (XXVII-O/97) on Coordination and Follow-up of the Declaration of Santa Cruz de la Sierra and the Plan of Action for the Sustainable Development of the Americas. The latter resolution established an Ad-Hoc Committee on Sustainable Development, under the Permanent Executive Committee of CIDI (CEPCIDI).

Pursuant to its mandates, the Ad-Hoc Committee on Sustainable Development considered the holding of a special meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development (CIDS) and recommended that it be held as soon as possible.

The Inter-American Council for Integral Development (CIDI), at its third regular meeting, held in Buenos Aires on March 25 and 26, 1998, adopted resolution CIDI/RES. 39 (III-O/93), which instructs CEPCIDI "to reschedule the special meeting of CIDS to be held at the Headquarters of the OAS Secretariat as soon as possible to follow up implementation of the Declaration and Plan of Action of the Santa Cruz Summit on Sustainable Development, with particular reference to the report of the Secretary General on Bolivia Summit implementation, and the Inter-American Program for Sustainable Development."

At the CIDI meeting, in accordance with the mandate from the heads of state and government of the Americas, the OAS Secretary General presented his report on implementation of the initiatives of the 1996 Summit of Santa Cruz, Bolivia.

That report identifies the main obstacles to execution of the Plan of Action's initiatives, mentions progress made on the various initiatives and in the institutional, financial, technological, and cooperation areas, and proposes that a Forum of the Americas for Sustainable Development be established.

LIST OF DOCUMENTS PRESENTED

1. CE/CGI-114/97 Activities for monitoring the terms of the Declaration of Principles and the Plan of Action emanating from the Summit of the Americas held in Miami in December 1994 (CICAD)

2. CE/CGI-115/97 OAS participation in the Free Trade Area of the Americas process (FTAA) - (Trade Unit)

3. CE/CGI-116/97 Report on the Implementation of the Summit of the Americas (CIM)

4. CE/CGI-117/97 The OAS and follow-up to the Miami Summit: Strengthening Democracy (UPD)

5. CE/CGI-118/97 Summary of CITEL activities in compliance with the Miami Summit

6. CG/CGI-119/97 The Hemispheric Summit Process and the Organization of American States

7. CG/CGI-121/97 Summit of the Americas - Miami, December 1994 (Secretariat for Legal Affairs)

8. CG/CGI-122/97 Follow-up on the Plan of Action of the Summit of the Americas Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (IACHR)

9. CG/CGI-124/97 Support of the Summit of the Americas by the Office of Science and Technology/OAS

10. CG/CGI-125/97 The Summit of the Americas (Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment)

11. CG/CGI-125/97 Follow-up on the Bolivia Summit on Sustainable Development add. 1

12. CG/CGI-127/97 Activities of the OAS under CIDI in fulfillment of the mandates of the Summit of the Americas, held in Miami, December, 1994.


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