Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management
Chairman's Summary of Suggestions and Recommendations for the Summit Implementation Review Group
Presented at the XIX meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group October 1-3, 2000, Quebec City, Canada
The Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management of the OAS met on September 19, 2000. Member States were joined by invited experts and civil society groups of the Hemisphere to discuss issues related to the Summit of the Americas Process and to the Third Summit of the Americas, to be held in Quebec City, Canada, in April 2001.
The Chair of the Committee had previously tabled the document "2001 Summit of the Americas: Themes", Committee document number CE/GCI-170/00 in order to stimulate thought and debate. The first half of the all-day meeting was devoted to discussing general issues related to the Summit process. The second half of the meeting was devoted to the democracy theme, and its attendant issues. Other Summit themes were also discussed. The entire meeting was broadcast over the Internet, through the OAS and Summit of the Americas Information Network web-pages (http://www.oas.org) and (http://www.summit-americas.org). The Chair of the Committee also received e-mail questions in real time, from civil society organizations in Argentina, Ecuador, Dominica and Paraguay.
This report contains a summary of the suggestions and recommendations made by representatives of the member States and of civil society organizations during the meeting.
Summary of the opening remarks: Secretary General, César Gaviria, Chair of the Committee, Ambassador Peter M. Boehm, Director of the Office of Summit Follow-Up, Jaime Aparicio.
General Remarks on the Summit Process and Agenda
Suggestions for Strengthening Democracy
Suggestions for Creating Prosperity
Suggestions for Realizing Human Potential
I. Summary of Opening Remarks
In brief introductory remarks, OAS Secretary General César Gaviria emphasized the increasing importance of civil society to hemispheric integration, given the process of globalization. He stressed the need for openness on the part of governments and institutions, and underlined the need of citizens to be provided with as much information as possible. He also highlighted the steps taken by the OAS to engage civil society, in particular, the approval of guidelines for the participation of civil society organizations in the activities of the Organization.
The Chair of the Committee, Ambassador Peter M. Boehm, mentioned that credibility of Summits will reside in their capacity to make a substantial difference for people and that Canada therefore wanted to see a result-oriented Plan of Action. The Chair stressed that national governments are ultimately the "implementers" of Summit mandates, but that partnerships with hemispheric institutions and involvement of civil society organizations at all stages are also crucial. He reminded delegates that although Summit issues are divided into three priority areas, action must not be compartmentalized, neither by country, nor by sector or institution. The Chair emphasized that all three areas should mutually reinforce each other, and that the challenge for all participants will be to ensure both consistency and coordination in the design and implementation of a Summit Plan of Action.
The Chair also underlined the importance of "putting people first" in the Summit agenda, and identified gender mainstreaming as a particularly important cross-cutting theme. He also drew attention to the connectivity aspect of the Canadian approach, suggesting its application to strengthen governance and improve democracy. The Chair concluded by noting that the "2001 Summit of the Americas: Themes", Committee document number CE/GCI-170/00, should be considered a non-paper, for discussion purposes only.
The Director of the OAS Summits Office, Jaime Aparicio, referred to the importance of the Summit Management Committee as a place for fostering a new relationship of cooperation between governments, civil society, international bodies, and cooperation agencies in the lead-up to the next Summit. He noted that many of the Summit mandates can only be fulfilled if we are able to mobilize the energies of governments, international agencies, and civil society and channel them into constructive actions.
With respect to democracy issues, he summarized some of the concerns expressed in recent forums by governments and civil society alike, including: evidence that some countries of the region are democratically ungovernable, a situation that is made worse by lack of social cohesion and unacceptable social inequalities; corruption and lack of transparency as sources of tension in the region; the need to improve the quality of the political system, to construct legitimate, strong and transparent institutions, and to ensure the quality and independence of regulatory systems; strengthening electoral systems; strengthening the judicial and legislative branches; upgrading the importance and quality of political parties; and developing a democratic culture of civic values.
II. General Remarks on the Summit Process and Agenda
Resources must be identified to fund the Next Summit's mandates, to avoid the current situation where there are insufficient resources to implement many mandates. International financial institutions must be involved. (El Salvador and Jamaica)
Issues such as democracy, justice, human rights and drugs, have been widely discussed in the OAS. The Summit should place more emphasis on the well-being of peoples, the eradication of poverty, natural disasters, and opening-up markets. (El Salvador and Paraguay)
The issue of small economies should be treated not only in the FTAA context but as a cross cutting theme in all related Summit mandates. (Jamaica)
Gender should be treated as a cross-cutting theme in all Summit mandates. (Jamaica)
The Troika system should be expanded, and should provide for geographic representation. (Jamaica)
Connectivity is a confusing word in Spanish and it may not be the most appropriate word for the concept. (Ecuador)
"Baskets" may be an inappropriate term to use to describe issue groupings at the Summit, since this term was used in the Helsinki process in a Cold War international environment that was much less democratic than the present situation in the Americas. (Mexico)
Summit agenda should include discussion of rising oil prices; high prices have serious impact on growth in developing countries and negatively affect prosperity, health, housing and social welfare. The deteriorated social conditions brought on by high oil prices pose a threat to democracy. (Costa Rica)
Third Summit of the Americas, which should be the "Implementation Summit", must show that summits can improve the lives of ordinary people through fewer, but more concrete and implementable initiatives. (Robin Rosenberg, Leadership Council for Inter-American Summitry)
In order to deepen Hemispheric cooperation, greater efforts must be made to disseminate information and increase awareness of the Summit process. (Nobina Robinson, Canadian Foundation for the Americas)
The Third Summit should clarify and reduce the number of mandates on the Hemispheric Agenda. (Nobina Robinson, Canadian Foundation for the Americas; and Nancy Thede, Rights and Democracy)
Resources must be identified to fund the Next Summit's mandates, to avoid the current situation where there are insufficient resources to implement many mandates. International financial institutions must be involved more closely in the Summit process. (Nobina Robinson, Canadian Foundation for the Americas)
Diversity needs to be recognized in all of its aspects: political, economic, social and cultural. (José Maria Fumagalli, Consejo de la Industria Química del Mercosur)
150 million people of African descent live in the Americas. Blacks represent 40% of impoverished populations, and are often the poorest of the poor and the process of exclusion/invisibility of Blacks occurs daily in the Americas. (Julio Gallardo, Organization of Africans in the Americas)
Development aid must be targeted to meet the "true" needs of people, not what governments believe is needed. (Julio Gallardo, Organization of Africans in the Americas)
III. Suggestions for Strengthening Democracy
Democratic Institutions and Processes:
Democracy is not fully entrenched in every nation of the hemisphere, and human rights abuses persist in many places: principal priority of the Summit must be the advancement of democracy and human rights, including a strengthening of human rights institutions. (Antigua and Barbuda)
Success in the FTAA initiative and in economic integration will ring hollow if they are built on a foundation of shaky democracy and weak protection for human rights. (Antigua and Barbuda)
The issue of democracy should not be applied only to governments, but to all aspects of society, including civil society. (Guyana)
Democratic institutions must be strengthened through an inclusive process with civil and political actors. (Paraguay)
The Third Summit should contain "democratic clause", linking participation in the Summit with the existence of Democracy in the member States. (Robin Rosenberg, Leadership Council for Inter-American Summitry)
Definition of "democracy" in the clause must be clear to avoid the vagueness of the clause included in the communiqué of the recent meeting of Summit of South American Presidents. (Nobina Robinson, Canadian Foundation for the Americas)
Democracy is not a well-defined concept; method needs to be agreed upon to determine whether democracy truly exists in a State. (Andrea Sanhueza, Fundación Participa)
A growing concentration of power in hands of State executives is creating a precarious situation for democracy. (Andrea Sanhueza, Fundación Participa)
Challenges for the Americas (Dr. Jennifer McCoy, The Carter Center):
The Third Summit should address the increasing gap between rich and poor, which is eroding confidence in democracy. (Nancy Thede, Rights and Democracy)
A "democratic deficit" created from a lack of control over economic and social policies by elected officials, must be addressed. (Nancy Thede, Rights and Democracy)
Electoral observation missions must be strengthened to ensure free and fair elections which are a basic and fundamental component of democracy. (José Miguel Vivanco, Human Rights Watch)
Local democratic institutions and participation must be strengthened further in order to ensure and preserve democracy at the national level democracy. (John Graham, Federation of Canadian Municipalities)
The Declaration adopted at the Sixth Inter-American Conference of Mayors held in Miami from June 27 to 29, 2000, recommended that various tasks should be addressed jointly by national and local governments in preparation for the 2001 Summit. These tasks include:
There should be clarity as to what is meant by the phrase "strengthening" the human rights system in the Americas; There is a process underway through the OAS where concrete actions can be translated into the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Court. (Mexico)
(Freedom of Expression) Governments must improve access to information: a regional system should be established to provide access to government information. (Dr. Jennifer McCoy, The Carter Center; and Jose Miguel Vivanco, Human Rights Watch)
While state-orchestrated human rights abuses may have declined in the hemisphere, abuses regarding political, social and economic rights, administration of justice and access to justice have not: the Inter-American system of human rights needs strengthening. (Jose Miguel Vivanco, Human Rights Watch)
Specific multilateral agreements should be developed to ensure extradition for human rights violations. (Jose Miguel Vivanco, Human Rights Watch)
Administration of Justice: Corruption:
Mechanisms to fight corruption exist, however, they should be re-examined to see if they can be strengthened. (Paraguay)
Connectivity theme is important: all citizens must have access to information regarding the implementation of multilateral mechanisms that affect their lives. (Paraguay)
Multilateral institutions must facilitate access to justice, in particular in regards to human rights. (Paraguay)
A follow-up mechanism should be established to monitor implementation of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption. (Dr. Jennifer McCoy, The Carter Center; and, Miguel Schloss, Transparency International)
Include bribery of domestic and foreign officials among the "predicate offenses" for the application of anti-money laundering statutes. (Miguel Schloss, Transparency International)
An integral anti-corruption system is needed in the Americas which can detect and deal with corruption. (Francisco Nieto, Universidad Central de Venezuela)
Civil Society Participation:
Next Summit should place focus on people: must contain a creative process to allow participation by "man on the street". (Antigua and Barbuda)
Summit should focus on people, and on the enhancement of their ability to live in peace, prosperity and happiness. To this end, the Summit should give a voice to average citizens of the Americas, and creative ways should be found to integrate their views into the process. (Antigua and Barbuda)
Civil society participation in OAS activities must be maintained and strengthened. (Paraguay)
The Third Summit should include a discussion between the Heads of State and Government and civil society organizations' representatives who are not participants of the parallel "people's Summit" . (Nancy Thede, Rights and Democracy)
Financial assistance should be provided to civil society organizations in order to allow them to participate in Summit-related meetings. (Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Alliance for Responsible Trade)
Focus should be placed on the quality of civic engagement within American societies. The Summit process can contribute to creating engagement conditions by:
A permanent framework for civil society participation in the inter-American process needs to be created and maintained; this will increase confidence in inter-American institutions. (Andrea Sanhueza, Fundación Participa)
There is a need for a real commitment to seriously institutionalize civil society participation at the Summits. (Yolanda Kakabadse, Fundacion Futuro Latino Americano de Ecuador; and, Henry Shillingford, Dominica Conservation Association)
The framework that the Inter-American Strategy for Public Participation (ISP) opened for civil society organizations to interact with the governments is essential and a very good example to follow-up on. Spaces of dialogue, exchange and interaction in the Summit Process should be institutionalized. (Liliana Hisas, Fundación Ecológica Universal de Argentina)
The level of CSO participation varies by country; these differences need to be taken into account in order to avoid exclusion of certain groups. (José Maria Fumagalli, Consejo de la Industria Quimica del Mercosur)
IV. Suggestions for Creating Prosperity
Trade and Investment:
There should be a mechanism to link participation of States in the FTAA to respect for all economic, cultural, social and political rights of a country's people. (Nancy Thede, Rights and Democracy).
More transparency is needed in the FTAA process, particularly with regard to the state of negotiations, in order to allow civil society to provide constructive inputs through the FTAA mailbox. (Karen Hansen-Kuhn, Alliance for Responsible Trade)
Drought and desertification are important issues: 1 million Peruvians have emigrated due to the problem. A process must be put into place to deal with land degradation and the overexploitation of natural resources. (Jesus Gomez Urquino, Instituto Laboral para el Desarrollo Regional, Peru)
The intrinsic link between human rights generally, and labour rights specifically, needs to be recognized by the Summit: A joint Committee of the OAS and the ILO for labour and human rights should be created as a pilot project for an eventual hemispheric organization dedicated to labour/human rights. (Michel Dion, Université de Sherbrooke)
Addressing Economic Disparities:
The current instruments encouraging economic development, set in place by various international organizations, do not recognize social realities when establishing mechanisms of wealth redistribution and thus accentuate the situation by systematically excluding African peoples. Africans in the Americas want to be an integral part of the integrative developments under way in the hemisphere, and are seeking a better understanding of their social status and a better representation of their interests among existing institutions. (Julio Gallardo, Organization of Africans in the Americas)
V. Suggestions for Realizing Human Potential
The Third Summit should recognize the rights of Indigenous Peoples, through the approval of the Proposed American Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. (Nancy Thede, Rights and Democracy)
Benchmarks should be set to monitor advances in the participation of women in political, social and economic fields. (Nancy Thede, Rights and Democracy)
In order to overcome the gap between the spirit of gender equitable laws and their concrete implementation, policies must be accompanied by serious institutional commitment in order to be successful. Problems with democratic governance (corruption, lack of accountability) and social inequity in general in the Americas, prevent progress regarding the status of women. (Joan Caivano, Inter-American Dialogue)
Affirmative action in Peru has resulted in women comprising 25% of the electoral slate; this should be repeated in other countries. Concrete action is needed to combat violence against women and domestic violence. (Jesus Gomez Urquino, Instituto Laboral para el Desarrollo Regional, Peru)
VI. Other Recommendations
Afro-Latin American Peoples should be included as a cross-cutting theme in the Third Summit's Declaration and Plan of Action. (Roy Guevara Arzu, Afro-Honduran Chamber of Commerce, and, Organization for Africans in the Americas).
The OAS, trough the Summit, should adopt a declaration on Afro-Latin American Peoples, which should be distinct from Indigenous Populations. (Roy Guevara Arzu, Afro-Honduran Chamber of Commerce, and, Organization for Africans in the Americas).
International Organizations should ensure that diversity exists among their employees, in order to include Afro-Latin American Peoples. (Roy Guevara Arzu, Afro-Honduran Chamber of Commerce, and, Organization for Africans in the Americas).
Entire contents © 2000 Organization of American States, Office of Summit Follow-Up