Summits of the Americas Newsletter

February 2009 | Summits Online | Espaņol

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National Civil Society Forum Convened in Saint Lucia

On February 16, 2009 Saint Lucia convened a national Civil Society Forum on the themes of the V Summit of the Americas. This one-day Forum was held at the government conference center (NIC Center) located in Castries, the country’s capital. Of some 60 invited participants, approximately 42 Civil Society Organizations and NGOs, as well as government ministries or agencies, took part in the event.

The Forum was hosted by the Ministry of External Affairs, International Trade and Investment - Saint Lucia’s National Summit Coordinator - and by the Ministry of Social Transformation, Youth and Sport. The office of the General Secretariat of the Organization of American States (OAS) in Saint Lucia collaborated closely with these ministries. Valuable collaboration was also received from the office of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) in Saint Lucia. Four civil society organizations from Saint Lucia which had participated in the Caribbean Subregional Civil Society Forum, held in Trinidad and Tobago, contributed ideas to planning the Forum.

This national Forum was intended to brief or update civil society organizations in Saint Lucia on the Summit process, as well as to seek their views and input on the draft Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain. The Forum was organized in plenary sessions, and in working groups which analyzed the draft Declaration. As an additional reference document for the discussions, the conclusions of the October 2008 Caribbean subregional forum were made available. The deliberations were conducted by a facilitator or group chair and the conclusions recorded by a rapporteur who later reported to the plenary.

The forum was conducted in thoughtful and often lively debates, in which Summit themes were examined from the perspective of the St Lucian civil society organizations present. It promoted reflection on issues such as poverty reduction, key social issues and critical national challenges faced by small island developing states, and the role of civil society in the current global circumstances. An interesting feature was the presence of government agencies linked to the topics of the Summit, and the engagement and dialogue with civil society on issues of national development which was thus facilitated. At the end of the day, the debate produced recommendations intended for the use of the delegation of Saint Lucia in the Summit process.

This forum in Saint Lucia is the first national forum in the current Summit process. Participants were enthusiastic about continuing this consultative process and looked forward to its follow-up.

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