Summits of the Americas Newsletter

February 2009 | Summits Online | Español

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Meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs with Social Actors in the Framework of the Fifth Summit

In the framework of the Fifth Summit of the Americas, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago carried out a dialogue between representatives from different social sectors with Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Heads of Delegations from the 34 OAS Member States. The dialogue was held in Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago on April 17, 2009 and was presided by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago, Paula Gopee-Scoon, and the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza.

The purpose of this meeting was to provide recommendations and encourage discussion on the Fifth Summit theme “Securing Our Citizens’ Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability,” the draft Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain, and the principal topics of the inter-American agenda. This exchange of ideas served as an important input for the leaders’ discussions and the ministers and other delegates who participated in the dialogue recognized the value of promoting coordinated work between government institutions and social actors.

Almost 200 representatives of civil society, indigenous peoples, the private sector, youth, and workers participated in the meeting held on April 17, 2009 aboard the Caribbean Princess cruise ship anchored in Port of Spain. During the dialogue, representatives of the various social sectors presented the conclusions of their respective fora as well as the ongoing consultation processes spearheaded by the OAS in the interests of generating inputs for the Fifth Summit deliberations.

Delegates from civil society shared conclusions based on the three sub-regional, two hemispheric, and six thematic consultations carried out over the course of the past year in addition to the results of the Civil Society Forum held during the previous two days, choosing to reflect specifically on the priority themes of implementation of the Summits Process, human rights, democracy, social inclusion, as well as issues specific to the Caribbean.

For their part, representatives of workers engaged with member states regarding the Declaration that emanated from the ‘A Workers’ Forum of the Americas,’ held over 2 days at the University of the West Indies, which outlined this sector’s perspectives on the priorities of the region, particularly in view of the global economic situation.

For the exchange between ministers and indigenous peoples, a delegation of six indigenous leaders presented the outcomes of discussions held earlier in the week in Panama, during the Third Indigenous Leaders Summit of the Americas (3rd ILSA) and discussed with Ministers the outcomes of their deliberations; specifically, the 3rd ILSA Declaration and Plan of Action.

Private sector representatives held an effective interchange with ministers on the results of the various sub-regional consultations sustained over the previous year as well as the outcomes of the Private Sector Forum held immediately prior to the Fifth Summit. In this interchange, private sector delegates made specific mention of their interest in accompanying governments in the implementation of shared Summit goals.

Youth delegates also delivered the results of a series of sub-regional consultations held over the course of 2008 as well as the results of the Young Americas Forum held April 15-16 in Port of Spain (Youth Declaration of Port of Spain). During their dialogue with ministers, the youth delegates made positive suggestions to the member states on the important hemispheric issues affecting their lives.

In his opening speech during the meeting, the OAS Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, recognized the importance of these spaces for dialogue, which initiated in Santiago de Chile Summit in 1998 and that “were institutionalized for the first time in the Third Summit in Quebec City in 2001” as well as the importance of multisectoral partnerships for the achievement of common goals. Insulza also thanked each of the social actors participating in this dialogue, and highlighted the great work and efforts that each of these groups have made as well as the richness of the preparatory meetings held, their conclusions, and the tremendous sacrifices that many of them had to make in order to attend and participate in these events.

The four hour session chaired by the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Trinidad and Tobago provided a positive opportunity for those social actors committed to the objectives established in the Summits Process to share with member states their recommendations and suggestions on actions to achieve the Fifth Summit mandates. In her closing remarks, Minister Gopee-Scoon reaffirmed that “fostering a positive and productive relationship with social actors cannot be understated” and noted that “contributions, expertise and feedback from social actors “are vital to the inter-American agenda as we seek to make it more relevant and most importantly, to ensure that policies adopted touch the lives of the people of this Hemisphere in a meaningful, tangible way.” Finally, she assured that the concerns and challenges expressed during the Dialogue “have not fallen on deaf ears” and thanked the social actors for sharing the projects and experiences that have yielded fruit as well as the work being done in support of the implementation of Summit mandates and in making that process more effective.

For more information about the dialogue please visit the Summits of the Americas Information Network:

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