Summit Implementation: An Evolving Process
[Paper Presented to the IV SIRG by the United States]
At the last two meetings of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG), and at the Foreign Ministers' Meeting on the Summit in Haiti a number of countries have expressed concern about several elements of the Summit implementation review process. In particular, concern has been expressed about the fast pace and broad range of the process, the multiplicity of meetings and channels of communication, the inadequate coordination of some initiatives, and the preparation of country implementation reports, which are seen as too consuming of time and resources. A number of countries have also expressed a desire for greater OAS involvement in the implementation process.
The United States shares some of these concerns, which we view primarily as growing pains accompanying a healthy and dynamic process, and believes that the role of the Summit Implementation Review Group needs to evolve in response to them in order to ensure its continued relevance to the Summit process and to provide the greatest possible support to all countries in the implementation of the various items in the Summit Plan of Action. With this in mind, we propose a dialogue among the Summit partners on this issue between now and the next meeting of the SIRG, scheduled to take place in September in Washington at OAS headquarters.
In order to facilitate this dialogue, the United States offers the following suggestions for a new Summit implementation process.
A. The Role of Governments - As indicated in the Summit documents, the primary responsibility for implementing the Plan of Action falls to governments, individually and collectively, with participation of all elements of our civil societies.
B. Responsible Coordinators - As discussed in San Salvador and subsequently, countries or international organizations can volunteer to coordinate implementation of individual action items, taking the lead in developing an implementation strategy, convening meetings, and communicating relevant information about the implementation process. Countries may ask appropriate international organizations to support their efforts. The Summit Coordinating Office will also assist the responsible coordinators as appropriate. A paper more fully outlining the responsible coordinators concept is attached.
C. International Organizations - The OAS, IDB, and PAHO were assigned specific responsibilities in the Plan of Action, and should coordinate or assist in the coordination of these areas. In addition to the implementation responsibilities entrusted to the OAS by the leaders in Miami, the Organization could be asked by governments to develop a logistical capability to assist future hosts in the coordination of planning and execution of a summit, should one be held. Or we could even explore having the OAS gradually assume the information clearinghouse role currently performed by the Summit Coordinating Office. This would not preclude the use of other organizations or individual countries to provide this service. Other organizations such as ECLAC and the sub-regional organizations for integration also have important roles to play in supporting governments' implementation of action items. (For the trade action item, a different reporting and information sharing process, established at the Denver ministerial, will operate for follow-up on the FTAA-)
D. The Summit Implementation Review Group - This group would focus on:
Ensuring continued political support and viability for the Summit process;
Helping foreign ministries with coordination of Summit implementation by serving as an information clearinghouse;
Invigorating action on the action items identified by foreign ministers as requiring "redoubled attention," primarily by soliciting volunteers to serve as responsible coordinators for items which have none, or by convening panel discussions on individual action items at regular SIRG meetings. In this regard, Venezuela, along with other interested countries, has volunteered to organize a panel discussion of corruption for the September meeting of the SIRG, while the Inter-American Development Bank has volunteered to organize a similar discussion of infrastructure for the same session. Additional topics could be placed on the agenda if countries desire;
Preparing, just before the next OAS General Assembly, a recommendation for foreign ministers on the possible convening of a new summit;
Asking governments which have volunteered as responsible coordinators to report as necessary on progress in implementing their particular initiative. The Summit Implementation Review Group would meet periodically in Washington to assess progress on action items, distribute updated calendars of Summit-related conferences and activities, and fine-tune the implementation process as necessary.
The United States would like to hear from its Summit partners their views on the ideas in this paper and the overall architecture of Summit implementation.
Attachment: Responsible Coordinators
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 lines 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: