Summits of the Americas Newsletter

February 2009 | Summits Online | Espaņol

BACK TO NEWSLETTER: SIRG | See also: South American Civil Society Forum - Policy Roundtable - ICTs - Saint Lucia Forum

Message from the Director

David Morris, Summits of the Americas Secretariat

This week, the OAS General Secretariat wraps up a full calendar of civil society consultations on the themes of the Fifth Summit of the Americas with the holding of a Hemispheric Civil Society Forum at our Organization's headquarters in Washington, DC.

In 2008 and 2009, hundreds of civil society representatives from all corners of the hemisphere and representing a multitude of issues and themes participated in consultations. The activities were kicked off in May 2008 in Miami at a Hemispheric Forum that gathered civil society representatives for discussions on the concept paper that served as a foundation for the draft Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain presented by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago.

In October, we initiated a calendar of three sub-regional consultations with civil society, taking as reference point the draft Declaration of Commitment. Forums were later held with Caribbean civil society organizations (CSOs) in Port of Spain in October 2008, whereas CSOs from Central America, Mexico and the Dominican Republic had an opportunity to dialogue in El Salvador in December. Most recently, South American civil society representatives gathered in Lima in early February 2009.

The Second Inter-American Forum of Afro Descendants held in Santo Domingo in January provided an opportunity for this large segment of our hemispheres population to prepare their own suggestions to the governments of the region. Additionally, 7 forums have been held through the Summits Virtual Platform which now includes over 600 registered participants who have engaged in meaningful discussions on the Summit themes. Participants of all forums produced specific recommendations and suggestions for the consideration of the Member States as they continue the ongoing process of negotiation on the draft Declaration.

At this juncture, it is important to recognize the achievements accomplished since this process commenced in 2008. These activities have ensured that citizens were given an opportunity to reflect on the theme and objectives of the coming Fifth Summit: "Securing our Citizens Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability". More work is ahead of us as we look toward the celebration of the 3rd Indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas to be held in April, and the Forums for Civil Society, Youth, and the Private Sector that will be held in Port of Spain, immediately prior to the Summit, and the engagement between OAS Member States and social actors that will take place at the Fifth Summit.

The great success of these initiatives would not have been possible without the support and collaboration of valued partners; in particular, the National Secretariat for the Fifth Summit of the Americas of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago’s support for effective and continuous engagement with civil society is admirable. In addition, we recognize the close collaboration of the Department of International Affairs of the OAS in working with us on these initiatives. Additionally, we have counted upon support from a number of partners, including the University of San Martin de Porres, Global Rights, the Network of NGOs of Trinidad and Tobago for the Advancement of Women, and the Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL), as well as the much appreciated financial support from donors: the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), the United States State Department, and the Inter-American Foundation.

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