SUMMIT COORDINATION OFFICE
Department of State
Washington, D.C. 20520 October 2, 1995
To: Ambassadors to the U.S. of the Nations the Summit of the Americas
From: Ambassador Richard C. Brown, Senior Coordinator
Subject: Open Letter to Members of the SIRG
I am pleased to circulate for your information an "Open Letter to Members of the Summit Implementation Review Group" from SIRG Chairman, Ambassador Alexander Watson. This entire package is also being sent to U.S. Embassies in the Hemisphere to share with host governments. Attached to the letter is:
a) the July, 1995, concept paper on Responsible Coordinators, and
b) a chart indicating the latest information on those who have volunteered to be either Responsible Coordinators or Co-coordinators.
For corrections to the latter, please do not hesitate to contact me: tel. (202) 736--7531 or fax (202) 736-7618. Thank you for your cooperation.
OAS: Mr. Cesar Gaviria, Secretary General
PAHO: Mr. George Alleyne, Director
IDB: Mr. Enrique Iglesias, President
ECLAC: Mr. Gert Rosenthal, Executive Secretary
OPEN LETTER TO MEMBERS OF THE SUMMIT IMPLEMENTATION REVIEW GROUP
September 26, 1995
I continue to be impressed by the progress we are making through the SIRG process in Summit of the Americas implementation. Our meeting in Washington September 19 was constructive, and I believe it set a positive course for future 'implementation activities.
In the past I have issued a Chairman's report after SIRG meetings have concluded. This time, however, I have chosen to collect my impressions in this letter, Which I hope will be seen as just as useful but somewhat less formal. More detailed reports from the working sessions on anti-corruption and infrastructure may be issued by the respective responsible coordinators, but we leave the decision on whether to issue such reports totally up to the responsible coordinators themselves.
For the record I wish to summarize the. results of our discussions.
The morning panel on combating corruption, chaired by the distinguished Venezuelan Foreign Minister Burelli Rivas with co-coordination by Honduras and the threat which corruption presents to
OAS, focussed on the major themes. democracies, especially those newly-emerged; domestic steps needed or taken to combat corruption effectively; and cooperation among states at both the regional and international levels. 'Several delegations observed that money laundering should be addressed in the context of corruption as well as international narcotics trafficking.
An important example of corruption's devastating toll was provided by the PAHO representative, who commented that one study showed fully one-third of funds allocated for health care had been siphoned off through fraud or embezzlements. Others noted corruption flourishes at the intersection of politics and business, and that "ethical relativism" makes the richest appear to be above the law--a perception which must be eradicated. Many supported the suggestion that the level of public awareness should be. raised about the consequences of corruption, in conjunction with actually raising the consequences of corruption. There was also general agreement on the importance of revising educational curricula to impart a moral and practical appreciation of tile toots of corruption and its consequences.
Many countries expressed support for the concept of a proposed OAS Convention on Corruption, and noted willingness to work together to achieve a document the majority of countries could support. The OAS intends to further deepen its links to the OECD Working Group on Bribery in International Business Transactions as mandated by Summit documents. It was also suggested that a strong stance should be taken, using :this linkage, against the practice in. some OECD countries of allowing bribes paid in other countries to be deducted from national income taxes.
The afternoon panel on investment in hemispheric infrastructure, chaired by the IDB with contributions from the IFC, the World Bank, and a private sector representative, illuminated the key point that in an era without comprehensive government guarantees for financing infrastructure projects, all possible sources and creative financing must be pursued. Obtaining funding will be greatly facilitated through investment-grade financial instruments.
There have been dramatic, positive developments in Latin American infrastructure. For example, some $23 billion of infrastructure. has been privatized since 1990. Nonetheless, vast ongoing needs--some $30 to $60 billion annually for the next decade--formed the backdrop to discussions. The private sector representative commented on the movement of new private capital into electric power production and distribution, telecommunications, and transportation. Experts took for movement into water projects and sanitation, as well. Encouragingly, some pension funds in the hemisphere are showing interest for the first time in infrastructure investments.
Finally, and showing in dramatic fashion the direct connection between the anticorruption and infrastructure initiatives, the need for changes in the, rules of the game was emphasized to improve investor confidence and draw in increasing amounts of private capital. Whether we should consider adoption throughout the hemisphere of a model Code of Best Practices to discourage illegal or unethical activities was raised by one. delegation. As a useful preliminary step, it was suggested countries might strive for a transparent regulator), environment.
Santiago Conference on Poverty, January 1996
The Chilean delegate treated us to an explanation of what might be expected to be examined during the upcoming experts conference on poverty in Santiago. We appreciated his intervention during which he circulated and asked for comments on a paper outlining the scope and agenda for the meeting.
Fine Tuning the SIRG Process
I was particularly pleased by the frank discussion we had. concerning methods to improve the SIRG process. Several important points emerged from the exchange.
SIRG Objectives: We confirmed the. purpose of the SIRG implementation of Summit of the Americas action items. In itself. this process will give us further impetus and direction. Delegates to the SIRG represent Summit governments and hemispheric organizations, and provide policy oversight to ensure implementing actions are consistent with the preferences of the heads of government as memorialized in Summit documents. The United States, as host of the Miami Summit, will continue to volunteer as the SIRG chair and provide secretariat services.
Emerging Role of Responsible Coordinators: The description of the role of Responsible Coordinator contained in the paper circulated to all governments last July (copy enclosed) serves as a basis for indicating what governments may do when volunteering to promote a specific Summit Action item. However, the responsible coordinator concept is one with room for creativity and flexibility. We may have to improvise as we go along, discovering together the most effective means through actual practice. The overriding and guiding principle in developing the concept of Responsible Coordinator is that it is a "living" concept, open to innovation and experimentation--one which we anticipate will help us achieve more effectively the goals adopted at the Miami Summit.
The role and relationships of Co-Coordinators to Responsible Coordinators should be worked out between the volunteers themselves. In some cases, a division of labor may be based on special expertise a government or international organization can bring to bear in implementing the initiative. The Responsible Coordinator assumes the primary leadership role, however, in each case, and could, on a voluntary basis, brief periodic progress reports concerning each respective initiative. The first such report could be submitted to the Summit Coordinating Office by December 15, 1995, in time to be circulated to governments before the next SIRG meeting in mid-January.
Responsible Coordinators in performing their duties may call upon a variety of sources to obtain technical and financial support, including international institutions, non-governmental organizations, and the business community. Summit documents provide ample latitude to allow hemispheric international organizations to exercise the responsibilities of Responsible Coordinators and/or Co-Coordinators, in conjunction with individual governments.
I am also enclosing an updated chart indicating which governments and international organizations have volunteered to be Responsible Coordinators and Co-Coordinators. If there are errors please let the Summit Coordinating Office know immediately so changes can be made. Otherwise, please consider the designations indicated on the chart to be official and all should proceed to take action accordingly. Nonetheless, this chart should not be considered closed, and if volunteers for additional action items come forw6rd, we of course will list them and recirculate the chart immediately.
Establishing Priorities- All 23 Summit Action Items are important. Therefore, no useful purpose would be served by trying to prioritize them. Responsible Coordinators could, however, help determine short- to long-term objectives within each item as part of a strategy for implementing a particular action initiative.
Free Trade Handled Separately: All Summit Action Items will be subject to the SIRG review process and to the application of the Responsible Coordinator concept except for Action Item #9, Free Trade in the Americas, which will proceed independently as determined during the. June, 1995 Denver Trade Ministerial.
Information Flow. Foreign Ministries have a critical coordinating role to play within their own governments and thereby rely on a timely flow of information. The Summit Coordinating Office will continue to channel Summit-related information to Foreign Ministries via U.8. embassies in the hemisphere and to all Summit participating embassies in Washington as quickly and thoroughly as possible.
For this purpose, the Summit Coordinating Office has already begun to draw up a comprehensive calendar of events. conferences, and other activities which are being planned for each action initiative. The. document will be circulated to all Summit governments, and will reflect date and venue, level of participation, and agenda of purpose of events, initially through January 1996. Ambassador Harriet Babbitt, in her capacity as Chairperson of the OAS Special Committee on Inter-American Summits
Management, will provide all formal Summit documents to her OAS colleagues for their information, as well.
Future SIRG Meetings: The SIRG, while maintaining its responsibility for monitoring progress made for all action items, should continue providing special attention to the areas identified by the Foreign Ministers in Haiti. Having focused on anti-corruption mid infrastructure during the September 19 meeting, we should now plan to devote additional attention to poverty, anti-terrorism, capital markets, and counter-narcotics in upcoming SIRG meetings.
Three of four SIRG meetings organized thus far have been held in Washington, where, by general agreement, they are convenient. At the same time, it has been recognized that convening the SIRG in other locations would be valuable in demonstrating the hemispheric scope of the Summit review process. The, group responded positively to the expressed interest and invitation of the delegates of Chile and ECLAC to hold the next SIRG meeting in Santiago on January 22, shortly following the experts conference on poverty. This will provide the SIRG with the opportunity to receive a report. from the just-completed conference and to examine progress made in the four Summit poverty action items: health, education, microenterprise, End discrimination against women. The Responsible Coordinators of these action items will be called upon to report to the SIRG progress which has been made in implementing the initiatives. Mote details of the meeting's agenda will be circulated as soon as the respective Responsible Coordinators outline the program in coordination with -the Secretariat.
The new meeting format was viewed, on the whole, as valuable. We agreed, as with all other aspect-, of the SIRG process, to continue improving the format whereby Responsible Coordinators organize panels of experts to report on implementation-providing a chance for policymakers to ask questions, contribute guidance, and provide details of follow-up programs in their respective countries.
I laud our joint efforts to make the implementation process workable and 'Productive. Together, we are directly, positively affecting people's lives throughout the hemisphere.
Alexander F. Watson
The Summit Plan of Action calls on governments, international institutions, and nongovernmental actors to implement the 23 action items approved by the heads of state and government in Miami, For some action items, the Plan suggests which of these implementing agents are particularly relevant. The Summit did not, however, assign clear fines of responsibility for organizing the implementation of every initiative.
In terms of national actions, which comprise more than half of the individual actions endorsed at the Summit, responsibility rests with individual governments to plan the pace and modalities of implementation.
For international activities, however, some coordinating entity or mechanism is essential.
The idea of "Responsible Coordinators" was proposed at the Summit Implementation Review Group meeting in San Salvador May 5 and was enthusiastically endorsed by a number of countries. Several countries and international organizations expressed interest in possibly becoming coordinators.
The Coordinator's Roles
It would not be necessary to have a coordinator on every action item, and the system would be completely voluntary. Countries and institutions would offer to play leadership roles based on their strong interest in. a particular initiative. The tasks of coordinators would include some or all of the following,