Summits of the Americas Newsletter

February 2009 | Summits Online | Espaņol

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Civil Society Gathers in Port of Spain in Advance of the Fifth Summit

Over 200 representatives of civil society organizations from throughout the hemisphere gathered aboard the Carnival Victory cruise ship, harbored in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago, to participate in the Civil Society Forum “Social Innovation and Implementation: Citizens in Motion.” The Forum, organized by the Government of Trinidad and Tobago in association with other partners, was held on April 15-16, 2009, immediately prior to the opening of the Fifth Summit of the Americas.

During the opening ceremony of the Civil Society Forum, Prime Minister Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago stressed his hope that the results of the engagement process with civil society would result in supporting the Fifth Summit “to advance the relationship between civil society and the state in every country of our hemisphere.”

Over the course of the two-day Forum, a number of sessions were held on a wide range of topics relevant to the inter-American agenda, including a review of the civil society consultation process spearheaded by the OAS and carried out over the year previous to the Summit which included a diversity of sub-regional, hemispheric, thematic, and virtual fora. Additional sessions presented opportunities for reflection on the socio-economic environment as well as strategies for enhancing civil society’s capacity to work with governments on implementation of Summits mandates. In addition, five thematic breakout sessions were held, enabling participants to engage in more in-depth discussion on the principal themes of the inter-American agenda.

At the close of the Forum on the afternoon of April 16, the Honorable Hazel Manning and OAS Secretary General, Jose Miguel Insulza, both offered remarks, congratulating the civil society representatives for their work over the past two days and thanking them for their tremendous efforts to engage in an ongoing way with the Summits of the Americas Process.

After the closing ceremony, participants prepared for their Dialogue with the Ministers of Foreign Affairs, which took place on the morning of the following day, by electing the delegates who would represent them and selecting the themes around which the interventions would be focused. The Forum offered an unprecedented opportunity for civil society from Latin America and North America to meet with their Caribbean counterparts and share their viewpoints on the hemisphere’s most pressing challenges. Indeed, Forum participants decided to include among their presentations to the Ministers a section devoted to issues of particular interest to Caribbean CSOs.

Click here to read: Civil Society interventions in the Dialogue.

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