Summits of the Americas Newsletter
June 2010 | Summits Online | Espaņol

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Civil Society Representatives Address Summit Process at OAS Hemispheric Forum

Civil Society

On May 5 and 6, 2010, 65 civil society representatives of the hemisphere met at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC to discuss the main themes of the 40th OAS General Assembly, “Peace, Security and Cooperation in the Americas.” The participants presented recommendations to the OAS Member States in a Special Session of the CISC, held on the afternoon of the 6th. Additionally, the representatives had the opportunity to dialogue with the Summits Secretariat in a participatory session regarding a number of follow-up initiatives in relation to the Fifth Summit, as well as the preparatory process for the Sixth Summit.

This dialogue session, held in the morning of the 6th, provided a space to discuss social actors’ participation in the Summit process and their experiences and lessons learned from the Fifth Summit. It also allowed the Summits Secretariat to receive the recommendations and suggestions for strengthening their engagement in the overall Process. Moreover, the session served to present to the Forum participants the Summits of the Americas Follow up System (SISCA) and the renewed version of the Summits Virtual Community (SVC). The complete audiotape of this session and other related documents can be found here.

During past years, civil society participation has been very active in both OAS activities and in the framework of the Summits of the Americas Process in which the OAS acts as technical secretariat. In this context, Ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos, Permanent Representative of Colombia to the OAS, spoke on behalf of his government, which is to host the Sixth Summit in Cartagena in 2012. Ambassador Hoyos affirmed that his government wishes “to work hand in hand with civil society organizations” in the preparations for the Summit, and he praised the active participation of such groups in the elaboration and recommendation of policies at the hemispheric level.

During the inaugural session of the Hemispheric Forum, the Director of the OAS Department of International Affairs, Irene Klinger, highlighted that “the OAS is convinced of the importance of continuing to broaden the channels of cooperation between the Member States and civil society. We need creative and participatory work, open to new ideas, visionary and enthusiastic, that generates synergies among everyone and allows us to achieve the transformations that our development requires.”

During the closing session of the event, civil society representatives presented their recommendations to the CISC, where they also had the opportunity to exchange ideas on the subjects of the inter-American agenda. These recommendations were the result of the two-day deliberation forum held in three parallel workshops covering the subjects of multidimensional security in the Americas, the strengthening of human rights and democracy (the prevention, handling and resolution of crises and conflicts), and cooperation for development.

In his closing remarks, OAS Secretary General Insulza expressed that “without your work, our work of seeing the implementation in all its forms of the Inter-American Democratic Charter would not be possible”. Insulza also recalled that the participation and contributions of civil society to the work of the OAS “is a great patrimony of our organization that has become richer with time.” He concluded in saying, “I hope that all of you and more are present at our meeting in Lima and I am sure that your contributions will be as impartial and enthusiastic as always”.

The Permanent Representative of Colombia to the OAS, Ambassador Luis Alfonso Hoyos, the Director of the OAS Department for International Affairs, Irene Klinger, and the Director of the Summit of the Americas Secretariat, David Morris, also participated at this closing session.

Among the recommendations from the civil society representatives there are specific proposals involving the Declaration of Lima for the 40th GA. For example, to encourage “the Member States to avoid expressions of militarization, the arms race, interference, by military treatment or by the use of force to solve conflicts and existing territorial or other disputes.” Similarly, it was proposed that states “avoid any call to war and consolidate a climate of cooperation for peace in the region.” The complete text of the recommendations is found here.

Currently, the OAS relies on 326 registered non-governmental organizations and a great number of other specialized organizations to offer ideas and to collaborate and follow up on the Organization’s programs. These organizations contribute their recommendations to the deliberations of the Member States in the Summits of the Americas, Inter-American ministerial meetings, specialized conferences, and General Assemblies of the Organization.

For more information about the dialogue on the Summits of the Americas Process in the Civil Society Hemispheric Forum please visit:

For information about Civil Society Hemispheric Forum please visit:

Photographs of the event can be found here.

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