Summits of the Americas Newsletter

February 2009 | Summits Online | Espaņol

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SIRG Meetings Intensify Negotiations

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, have intensified at the first three meetings of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) held so far in 2009.

The 34 OAS Member States, through their participation at the First 2009 Meeting of the SIRG, held January 14-16, the Second 2009 SIRG, held February 9-13, and the Third 2009 SIRG, held February 23-27, at the OAS Headquarters in Washington, D.C., have so far approved more than 40 paragraphs of the Declaration.

At the First SIRG, four institutions from the Joint Summit Working Group provided technical assistance by making presentations on “Environmental Sustainability”, the subject of the deliberations on the Draft Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain. The Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, stated that the issue was of tremendous importance not only for the countries but also for the people of the Hemisphere. He noted that the importance of the issued is demonstrated by the fact that while delegates are deliberating, nearly 200 million families would be struggling with less than $2.00 a day for food, health, and other needs; 75 million people would be denied access to clean drinking water, and nearly 140 million people would lack access to adequate sanitation, electricity and telecommunication connections. Insulza also informed of the negative impact of green house gas emissions in the Hemisphere, as well as the growing proportion of the Hemisphere’s ecological endowment which have now fallen under the “at risk” category.

According to the World Bank’s presentation, although the Latin American and the Caribbean region’s energy emissions were well below the world’s average both in per capita terms and as a fraction of the region’s GDP, if nothing was done to be part of the solution to ensure global effectiveness and efficiency, the Hemisphere‘s energy related emission after 2015 would grow faster than the world average. Mr. Munyaradzi Chenje of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP), in agreeing with the World Bank, indicated that recognizing the importance of the linkages between the global food, energy and financial crises would offer opportunities for more effective responses in dealing with the issue of environmental sustainability at national, regional and global levels. Dr Ulric Trotz of the Caribbean Community Climate Change Centre (CCCCC) recommended that in order for countries, particularly those in the Caribbean sub-region, to mitigate the impact of climate change, they would have to support efforts for adaptation, create monitoring and observation systems, implement the Bali Action plan, transfer environmentally sound technologies as well as provide new resources to support adaptation. The well received presentations assisted delegations in the negotiations of the Declaration by ensuring that they were well informed of the subject matter. At the conclusion of the SIRG, three paragraphs on the pillar of Environmental Sustainability were approved thus bringing the total of approved paragraphs of the Declaration to 29.

The deliberations of the Second SIRG focused on the theme “Strengthening Public Security, Strengthening Democratic Governance, and Strengthening the Summit of the Americas, Follow up and Implementation Effectiveness” (paragraphs 47-66 of the Draft Declaration of Commitment). Prior to the negotiations and in keeping with the methodology of ensuring that delegates were informed on the issues, the OAS and the IDB Representatives made presentations on Security and Democratic Governance. The Secretary General of the OAS, Jose Miguel Insulza, outlined the seriousness of the security problem in the Hemisphere. He indicated that in 2002 the homicide rate in Latin America and the Caribbean at 22.9 per 100,000 inhabitants doubled the World average, and that the region has the dubious distinction of having the second highest homicide rate of any region on earth. He informed that in large cities where homicide rates range from 40 to 120 per 100,000 inhabitants, young people tended to be the main victims particularly those in the middle and low strata of society. The Secretary General reminded delegates that security is a core part of human rights and that when it is impaired other fundamental rights can no longer be fully exercised.

The Director of the Department of Public Security of the OAS, Christopher Hernandez-Roy, expounded on this point by tying security to democracy and development. He indicated that many studies have shown, and many international institutions have accepted the finding, that as insecurity increases so do the calls for hard line responses which can erode democracy and ultimately development. The IDB representative, agreed with Mr. Hernandez Roy, and stated that Security had become an integral part of their development work of the IDB, and that in the last decade they have continued to work closely with other institutions in developing a strong citizen security sector through training, publications, program and project evaluations as well as community targeted activities. The Secretary for Political Affairs of the OAS, Dante Caputo, cautioned delegates about thinking that democratic governance is simply the ability to vote. He informed that voting is a necessary condition and that democracy is the best system to organize power with the aim of transforming rights that are written to realities. At this SIRG, an additional 13 paragraphs were approved.

At the Third SIRG, held on February 23-27, the participants continued their deliberations on the theme of “Democratic Governance, Strengthening the Summit of the Americas follow up and implementation effectiveness" and revisited the issues which had not been agreed to in the paragraphs on Human Prosperity and Environmental Sustainability . Delegations joined efforts in order to reach consensus and negotiations were successful. In five days, approximately 20 more paragraphs were approved.

At the next SIRG, which is scheduled for March 9-13, 2009 participants will focus on reviewing all paragraphs of the Declaration of Committment on which agreement has not yet been reached. The third Information Bulletin for the Summit will be circulated in early March.

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