Over the past several months, three meetings of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) have advanced the negotiations of the
Draft Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain, to be adopted at the Fifth Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago, in April 2009. The 34 OAS Member States, through their participation in the SIRG process, have thus far had the opportunity to propose amendments to paragraphs 1-29 at the Third 2008 Meeting of the SIRG, held September 18-19 in Bridgetown, Barbados; at the Fourth 2008 SIRG, held October 15-17, in Antigua and Barbuda; and at the Fifth 2008 SIRG, held November 17-19 in Washington, D.C.
The Third 2008 SIRG, in Barbados, opened with words of caution, optimism and encouragement expressed first by the acting Minister of Foreign Affairs, Trade and International Business of Barbados, Hon. Donville Inniss; followed by Ambassador Luis Alberto Rodriguez, Coordinator of the National Secretariat for the Fifth Summit of the Americas and special Envoy for the Americas of Trinidad And Tobago; and subsequently by Ambassador Albert Ramdin, the Assistant Secretary General of the Organization of American States. The complete text of their presentations can be found at:
The three speakers acknowledged the challenges facing delegations in negotiating a relevant document to be agreed upon by all 34 OAS Member States. Minister Inniss emphasized the importance of implementation of mandates and the hemisphere’s current challenges. Assistant Secretary General Ramdin urged delegations to use this opportunity for bringing peace, stability and prosperity to the region as the region seems to be facing many old and new social, economic, financial, environmental and political challenges. He recommended national coordinators be prepared to engage in new thinking, develop innovative solutions, prioritize and coordinate responses, as well as aggressively pursue stronger integration and greater inter and intra hemispheric cooperation.
Speakers indicated that they were acutely aware of the important role that the partner institutions of the Joint Summit Working Group (JSWG) could play in the Summit’s Process and acknowledged their presence at the meeting. Three JSWG partner institutions were invited by the Chair of the SIRG to make introductory presentations on the theme of “Human Prosperity”: the Inter American Development Bank (IDB), the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture (IICA) and the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO). All three presentations depicted a worrisome but cautiously optimistic picture of the current state of the region with respect to food security and health, as well as labor market, poverty, and education trends. The complete text of their presentations can be found at:
Member states agreed on the importance of the JSWG institutions in supporting the achievement of the commitments identified in the Draft Declaration. They also indicated that, in general, given the scope of the problems outlined by the partner institutions, the goals set in the Declaration were desirable. Other JSWG partner institutions presented a synopsis of their work which dovetailed with the Declaration's goals, and pledged their commitment to the Summit Process.
The Fourth 2008 SIRG, in Antigua & Barbuda, centered negotiations around paragraphs 1-15 of the Draft Declaration, focusing on Human Prosperity. Six paragraphs out of fifteen which had been the subject of negotiation were approved. At the conclusion of the meeting Belize and Colombia offered to host SIRG meetings during the first quarter of 2009.
The Fifth 2008 SIRG, at OAS Headquarters, opened with a call from the Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, for Delegations to keep the global economic situation at the forefront. The Secretary General affirmed that negotiations of the draft Declaration of Commitment should reflect policies of benefit to all countries of the Hemisphere, so that the Summit of the Americas could be a “beacon of life” for the future. The Delegations continued the negotiation of the 29 paragraphs under the sub theme of Human Prosperity, using as a working document a revised version of the draft Declaration which had been prepared by the National Secretariat taking into consideration comments and recommendations submitted by Member States, as well as those paragraphs which had been approved at the previous SIRG meeting in St John’s, Antigua. Significant progress was made as Delegations approved 15 paragraphs, with 9 others sent to a Working Group for further deliberation, and 4 placed on hold pending further consultations by several Member States. Paragraph 29 on the topic of Culture was submitted to the Ministers of Culture who were meeting concurrently in Bridgetown, Barbados, for their consideration and input.
Member States were informed that the negotiation on Energy Security (paragraphs 30-38) would begin at the Sixth 2008 SIRG, scheduled to take place In El Salvador, December 10-12, 2008, and all delegations were requested by the National Secretariat to submit written comments on the remaining text of the draft Declaration by December 5, 2008.
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