Summits of the Americas Newsletter

September 2008 | Summits Online | Espaņol

BACK TO NEWSLETTER: SIRG - II Meeting | See also: Social Development Ministerial - Civil Society - Virtual Platform

Social Development Ministers Reaffirm their Commitment to Social Protection and Democratic Governance


On July 9 and 10, 2008, the Ministers and High Authorities of Social Development of the OAS Member States gathered in Reņaca, Chile, on the occasion of the First Meeting within the framework of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development, entitled: “Social Protection and Democratic Governance in the Americas”. At this high-level meeting, the Ministers reaffirmed their commitment to continue efforts to comply with the mandates of the Summits of the Americas with respect to social development, especially through the use of existing inter-American mechanisms to share experiences on social protection systems, conditional cash transfer programs, and efforts to combat poverty and inequality.

The meeting addressed current hemispheric social policies as well as emerging challenges facing the region, such as increasing food prices and the impact this may have on the most vulnerable populations, and the promotion of employment as a cross-cutting concern, as the Fifth Summit approaches. It was noted that challenges such as inequity and extreme poverty will require that Heads of State and Government redefine priorities in the context of the next Summit. The theme of the Fifth Summit “Securing Our Citizens’ Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability” deals in an integrated manner with the significant challenges that affect the people of the Americas. The first of these concepts, “Promoting Human Prosperity”, involves many of the priority needs of the citizens of the hemisphere regarding social development, namely: reducing poverty and inequality, maintaining security, achieving social inclusion and cohesion, respecting diversity and striving for equity, as well as providing universal access to quality education and health care.

In his remarks at the meeting, David Morris, Director of the Summits of the Americas Secretariat, highlighted the mutually supportive relationship between the Ministerial Meetings and the Summits Process. He emphasized that the Summits of the Americas provide the best opportunity to search for a common vision regarding the challenges of the Hemisphere, as well as to evaluate the achievements and share best practices and ongoing initiatives. He noted that this two-tiered process allows for the Summits of the Americas to issue mandates to the sectoral areas, and vice versa. In addition, he commented that social inclusion is both an essential determinant and a characteristic of effective democratic governance. Factors such as equality of opportunities, increasingly representative political systems and processes of democratic governance, as well as enhanced social mobility are all characteristics of inclusive and democratic societies.

Mr. Morris also recommended that the Chair of the Ministerial be invited to a forthcoming meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) to present the recommendations emanating from this Ministerial meeting for the consideration of all Summit National Coordinators, and the Host Government, in the process leading up to next April’s Summit.

To view the official documents of the Meeting, please visit the website of the Department of Social Development and Employment of the OAS, Technical Secretariat of this Ministerial process:

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