Message from the Director
David Morris, Summits of the Americas Secretariat (SAS)
A little over one year has elapsed since the Fifth Summit, and the Summit of the Americas Secretariat (SAS), in close collaboration with the Government of Colombia as current Chair of the Summits’ process, has made considerable progress in advancing the Summit agenda. Since assuming the chairmanship last September, the Government of Colombia has been leading the Summit process through constructive engagement with the SAS, as well as with the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG), the Joint Summit Working Group (JSWG), and other social actors, facilitating a concerted cooperative effort both in follow-up to the Fifth Summit as well as in preparation for the Sixth Summit, to be held in Cartagena in 2012.
This past April, the Colombian Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs and National Coordinator for the Summit chaired meetings with the Executive Council and the SIRG, and also participated in a high level meeting of JSWG representatives in Washington, DC. The Vice-Minister expressed appreciation to the Summits’ Secretariat for the collaborative work undertaken to date, and also for our effective and ongoing engagement with the institutional partners of the JSWG and other Summit stakeholders. He also noted the importance of the continued strengthening of our strategic alliance with the Colombian Government in the overall Summit process.
In the context of the SIRG, the SAS also received the support of the Vice-Minister in encouraging Members States to contribute to the SIRG Specific Fund. This supportive letter from the Ministry, which was sent to all National Coordinators for the Summits’ process, was enthusiastically welcomed by our Secretariat as the SIRG Fund is vitally important in enabling us to function efficiently and effectively in our role as technical secretariat and institutional memory for the Summits Process.
Over the past several months we have published and disseminated two important documents: “Volume V: Official Documents from the Summits of the Americas Process”, and the report entitled “From Mar del Plata to Port of Spain: a report on the Summit of the Americas Process between the Fourth and Fifth Summits (November 2005 – April 2009)”. The Volume V contains a compendium of all the official documents from the Summits Process and related inter-American Ministerials from Mar del Plata to Port of Spain.
We are pleased to announce that progress has been made with both Summits Implementation Follow-up System (SISCA), since its launch in January 2010, and the Summits Virtual Community (SVC), which will be launched officially at the Ministerial SIRG on June 8, 2010 in conjunction with the Fortieth OAS General Assembly (GA) in Lima, Peru.
Since its launch, SISCA has been introduced in Brazil, Argentina, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago, Dominican Republic, USA, and Canada. In addition, some more in-depth technical training and familiarization workshops have been held in Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, and El Salvador, and one is being organized for Peru, in June, immediately after the conclusion of the GA. Also, after several months of design and development, taking into consideration recommendations received and lessons learned from the initial pilot phase of the Summits Virtual Platform, SAS looks forward to the launch of the newly designed and modernized SVC at the Ministerial SIRG for the benefit of all Summit stakeholders.
On May 5–6, 2010, the annual Civil Society Hemispheric Forum was held at OAS Headquarters. During this forum the SAS team engaged with civil society representatives regarding a number of follow-up initiatives in relation to the Fifth Summit as well as the preparatory process for the Sixth Summit. This session provided an opportunity to present SISCA and the SVC to the participants and to discuss various issues related to social actors’ participation in the Summit process. We were pleased to engage in this dialogue and share experiences and lessons learned, and to receive Civil Society’s recommendations for strengthening their involvement in the Summit Process.
In conformity with paragraph 90 of the Declaration of Commitment of Port of Spain, and in order to strengthen the complementary relationship between the Summits and the inter-American Ministerial processes, the SAS has increased its engagement with OAS technical secretariats and specialized units. It is our desire to reinforce the common hemispheric agenda and contribute to facilitating congruence between priorities and resolutions adopted by the Ministers in accordance with the commitments emanating from the Summits.
Furthermore, we are delighted to announce that progress has already been achieved on the Inter-American Social Protection Network, launched in September 2009 in New York, and also on the Energy and Climate Partnership. Indeed the World Bank and the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), in collaboration with the OAS Department of Social Development and Employment, have started helping people out of poverty in the hemisphere by implementing and cataloguing conditional cash transfer initiatives. Also, the Ministerial meeting “Energy and Climate Partnership for the Americas” (ECPA), was held in Washington DC, April 15 - 16, 2010, at the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) and the OAS, in order to explore possible initiatives in energy efficiency, renewable energy, cleaner fossil fuels, energy infrastructure, and energy poverty.
In closing, on behalf of the Summits of the Americas Secretariat, I would like to thank our winter 2010 interns: Yolande Toe, Laura Navarro and Manoel Silva for their dynamic contributions over the last 3 months, and we are pleased to welcome Manoel Silva as a new member of the SAS team and our new summer interns: Elizabeth Furman, Juan Diego Peņa, and Lianna Marmol. I would also like to express my sincere gratitude to our colleague Cristobal Dupouy, who has been deployed on special assignment in Haiti for several months.
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