15 May 2000


The meeting of chairs of foreign affairs committees or equivalent bodies of the national congresses or parliaments of the OAS member states arose out of the mandate contained in resolution AG/RES. 1673 (XXIX-O/99), adopted at the twenty-ninth regular session of the General Assembly, which resolved:

To sponsor a meeting to be held during the first quarter of 2000–under the terms set forth in resolution AG/RES. 1599 (XXVIII-O/98) as regards external funding–of the chairs of the foreign affairs committees or equivalent bodies of the national congresses or parliaments of the OAS member states, the purpose of which shall be to further the development of interparliamentary dialogue in addressing issues on the hemispheric agenda, bearing in mind the idea of establishing a forum for this purpose."

At its meeting of July 23, 1999, the Permanent Council referred the topic for consideration by the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs. At meetings held on October 12, 1999 and December 2, 1999, that Committee considered the topic and agreed to set March 29 and 30, 2000 as the date for the above-mentioned meeting, which was to be held at the headquarters of the Organization./ The Committee entrusted the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy (UPD) with the task of preparing the basic documents for the meeting./

Pursuant to these mandates, the UPD prepared an OAS and Summit of the Americas information paper, carried out the preparatory work for the meeting, and provided technical and logistical support while the meeting was taking place.

Held on the scheduled date, the meeting was attended by 57 parliamentarians representing the following countries: Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Grenada, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, United States, and Uruguay. Canadian Member of Parliament Bill Graham and Peruvian Congressman Oswaldo Sandoval were elected co-chairs of the meeting by acclamation.

The meeting addressed such issues as the role of the legislature in dealing with topics on the inter-American agenda, different structural models, functions, and objectives of the Forum, and the venue and agenda for the upcoming constitutive meeting. The meeting concluded with broad consensus as to the importance of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas (FIPA) and the need to create it.

Attached hereto, for presentation to the General Assembly, are the letter and report containing the conclusions and recommendations of the meeting, submitted by its co-chairs, Bill Graham of Canada and Oswaldo Sandoval of Peru. It is to be noted that the parliamentarians have decided to convene the constitutive meeting of the above-mentioned Forum, for which OAS assistance would be requested, in the first trimester of 2001, in Canada.







Bill Graham, Chair, M.P. for Toronto-Centre Rosedale CHAMBRE DES COMMUNES Bill Graham, président, député de Toronto-Centre Rosedale


K1A 0A6

His Excellency Dr. César Gaviria Trujillo
Secretary General
Organization of American States
17th Street & Constitution Avenue N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006-44
May 4, 2000

Dear Secretary General:

On behalf of Oswaldo Sandoval and myself in our role as co-chairs of the first meeting of the newly established Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas (FIPA), we have the honour of forwarding to you our joint report summarizing the decisions taken at the meeting of chairs of foreign relations committees of national parliaments and congresses of OAS member states, which you so graciously hosted on March 29-30, 2000 in Washington. This brief report is likewise being forwarded to our fellow parliamentarians who attended the March meeting.

The report notes that FIPA has agreed to hold its constitutive meeting in Ottawa, Canada, in the first trimester of 2001. As the host country, Canada will organize the meeting in consultation with the Steering Committee comprising representatives from Colombia, Chile, Costa Rica, Grenada and the United States. Among the tasks that FIPA will undertake at its 2001 meeting will be to determine the nature of its relationship to the Organization of American States. Until a decision is made in this regard, Canada may, from time to time and with your approval, call upon contacts at the OAS to provide assistance or guidance on certain matters in relation to the 2001 meeting. Your officials did a commendable job in organizing the March 29-30 meeting and we would hope to be able to call upon their knowledge and expertise when the occasion arises.

I also wish to request an opportunity to present this joint report at the meeting of the General Assembly of the OAS in Windsor in June 2000. As one of FIPA’s principal objectives is to provide for inter-parliamentary discussion of topics of concern on the inter-American agenda and to communicate our findings and conclusions to the heads of state, it will be important that delegates at the June meeting be fully informed about FIPA.

I look forward to receiving a response from you and once again congratulate you and your staff, particularly the UPD, for organizing the meeting in March.

Yours sincerely,

Bill Graham, M.P.



Co-Chairs Report - Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas

April 04, 2000

Co-Chairs Report of the results of the meeting of Foreign Affairs Chairs or their equivalents of the OAS countries in Washington, March 29 and 30, 2000, called as a result of resolutions AG/RES. 1673 and 1623 (XXIX-O/99) of the OAS General Assembly. A list of the countries represented and parliamentarians present is appended hereto.

Co-Chairs, by way of this document wish to share with participants the basic conclusions of the meeting in Washington.

Basic conclusions:

    1. The Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas was created by acclamation. This Forum will be constituted of Members of National Parliaments of the Hemisphere. Certain delegations indicated that all conclusions were to be considered as ad referendum.
    2. While the constitution of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas was left to be decided at a future constitutive meeting it was agreed that:
      1. The constitutive meeting will be held in Canada under the chairmanship of Canada prior to the Summit of the Americas to be held in Quebec City in April of next year.
      2. This meeting would allow the adoption of a constitution of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas.
      3. This will enable discussion of various subjects of concern to parliamentarians with a view to providing guidance of parliamentarians concerns to the Heads of State at the Summit of the Americas meeting in Quebec City in April of 2001.
      4. The name agreed upon was "Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas".
      5. The future form of the Forum, its meetings and procedures would be decided at this meeting, but the general view was that the Forum should meet once a year rotating its meeting among the regions of the Hemisphere.
      6. In order to prepare for the meeting, a small Steering Committee, broadly representative of the regions of the Americas was proposed by the Co-Chairs and accepted by the participants. This will consist of representatives of Canada, Grenada, Costa Rica, Chile, Colombia, and the United States. They will share information with one another and prepare a draft constitution and an agenda for the constitutive meeting. Emphasis will be given to distributing documents well in advance of the meeting in order to permit proper preparation by the participants. As the Peruvian Representative and Co-Chair of the Washington meeting, Mr. Oswaldo Sandoval will not be running for Congress in the upcoming elections. Mr. Bill Graham from Canada will serve as Chair.
  1. Other issues that were raised for consideration but on which there was no general conclusion were:

    1. The nature of the relationship that the Forum would have with the OAS. Participants agreed that the Forum was to be an autonomous body, entirely separate from the executive structure of the OAS. However the exact relationship to the OAS and the possible use of its Secretariat in a coordinating role was left to be determined.
    2. The topics to be considered at the first meeting. The participants were canvassed for their preference for topics for discussion, and the steering committee will consider those ideas in order to determine topics for inclusion in the agenda of the constitutive meeting in Canada. Items referred to by participants included: the evolving role of parliaments, management of the consequences of economic integration in the Americas, drugs, crime, corruption and good governance, poverty reduction and debt relief for heavily indebted countries.

    The nature of the composition of the Forum was discussed at length. Some were of the view that it should be restricted to Chairs, Vice Chairs and members of Foreign Affairs Committees. Others were of the view that this would restrict the ability of the Forum to reflect the structure of each constituent parliament and the pluralistic nature of the constituent parliaments and to include parliamentarians of diverse backgrounds and expertise. Some participants pointed out that all parliaments were sovereign and would have to decide individually what form of representation to send. This said, continuity was stated to be desirable and, it is probably preferable if the same people who attended the Washington meeting represent their parliaments at the founding meeting in Canada so that the desired goals of expertise and continuity be met.