Open Letter to the Members of the Summit Implementation Review Group
(May 18, 1996)
I was extremely pleased with the results of our Sixth Meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) held at the Jamaican Conference Center. As my first opportunity to chair this important group, I was particularly impressed with the frank and open nature of our discussions. The Responsible Coordinators of the Money Laundering, Counternarcotics, Capital Markets, and Counterterrorísm initiatives deserve congratulations for their comprehensive and informative presentations on follow-up activities. In addition, Venezuela, Brazil, and Colombia made useful reports on progress in areas of particular concern to them. Canada, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua, and Jamaica, in leading the discussions on the second day on stream1ining and eliminating impediments in the SIRG process, made useful and insightful suggestions for improvements. We were honored by opening presentations by U.S. Presidential Counselor Thomas F. "Mack" McLarty III, and Jamaican Foreign Minister Seymour Mullings. I summarize the main. points raised by the panels, presentations, and discussions below.
Money Laundering (Presented by USA, Responsible Coordinator)
A representative of the United States presented an overview of progress since the Miami Summit on the money laundering component of initiative number six, noting a renewed. emphasis on money laundering as a problem that transcends narcotics and law enforcement to undermine the stability of economies and democratic institutions. The Buenos Aires Ministerial, held last December, produced a comprehensive communiqué that laid out a strategy for helping countries reduce their vulnerability to financial crimes. It was also noted that Finance Ministers meeting in New Orleans on May 17-18 would. discuss ways to support the strategy, emphasizing the area of technical assistance. A representative of the Government of Argentina framed the issue in the context of the production and trafficking of counternarcotics, noting that efforts in these areas can only be successful if concurrent efforts are undertaken to reduce the consumption of drugs.
The legal adviser to the OAS Counternarcotics and Drug Abuse Control Commission (CICAD) summarized ongoing OAS activities to he1p countries implement the Buenos Aires Communiqué, which include:
-A meeting of experts on June 17-20 in Washington to consider areas that, would benefit from a multilateral approach as well as ways to assist governments to institute their own assessments of implementation progress; and
-An OAS Working Group to consider the possibility of a hemispheric convention against money laundering and to identify areas of priority for the harmonization of national legislation.
Counternarcotics (Presented by USA, Responsible Coordinator)
A representative of the United States summarized the progress made at the hemispheric level in recent years. She noted that efforts in supply reduction have led to a record increase in coca crop eradication, though recent years have seen the emergence of opium and marijuana cultivation in the Hemisphere. On the demand side, she noted the responsibility of the United States to address its drug consumption problem and cited statistics showing a decline in casual drug use over the last ten years.
The representative of OAS/CICAD reported, inter alia, on his organization's efforts to finalize the Counternarcotics Strategy of the 21st Century, which was called for in the Miami Action Plan. A CICAD working group will. meet in Washington May 20-24 to further develop that document.
Capital Markets Liberalization (Presented by USA, Responsible Coordinator)
A representative of the U.S. Department of Treasury, which coordinates the Capital Markets Liberalization initiative, summarized the history of the Committee on Hemispheric Financial Issues which was formed on the instructions of the Heads of State in Miami. It has met four times at the vice-ministerial level and prepared the Meeting for Finance Ministers in New Orleans. Major benefits have already accrued as a result of finance officials consulting regularly. A vision for the future has been promoted, and regulatory reform have begun. In New Orleans, the ministers affirmed the work that has been completed and that which is still underway. Efforts have concentrated on: (a) creating an inventory of national capital regulations, (b) strengthening the integrity and transparency of capital markets including strengthening the fight against money laundering and other financial crimes, (c) recommending better accounting and auditing procedures, (d) considering means to address poverty and poor distribution of wealth, (e) establishing sound and predictable policy environments for private investment, and (f) encouraging domestic savings throughout the hemisphere. Barbados indicated its desire to assist as co-Coordinator of this initiative, and several countries emphasized the need for concerted and new creative ideas to overcome the problems of debt and capital shortage still confronting many smaller nations.
Counterterrorism (Presented by Argentina, Responsible Coordinator)
The delegate from Argentina presented a thorough review of the of the Specialized InterAmerican Conference on Terrorism, which met in Lima April 23-26, 1996. The Conference adopted both a Declaration and a Plan of Action.. In discussing these, he emphasized. the following points: the Declaration establishes acts of terrorism as "serious common crime? which erode democratic institutions; terrorism undermines peace and endangers the stability of national institutions and socioeconomic development; and signatory states are obliged to cooperate fully on matters of extradition, in conformity with their domestic law and treaties in force. He added terrorism is a violation of the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals, and ¡t is a clear transnational phenomenon which may severely compromise state to-state relations. He stressed also the Conference's agreement as to the importance of adhering to existing international terrorism treaties.
Following the Argentine presentation, the delegate from Peru noted that: terrorism has taken the lives of some 20,000 in Peru and that his government sees the Lima Declaration and Action Plan as an appropriate and just memorial to those martyrs.
REPORT ON ANTI-CORRUPTION CONVENTION MEETING (Venezuela)
As the responsible coordinator for combating corruption, Venezuela's delegate offered a summation of the Specialized Conference in Caracas March 27-29. At the conference, the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption was finalized. The 28 articles of the Convention promote the development of the necessary mechanisms to prevent, detect, punish, and eradicate corruption. The convention also encourages cooperation among member states against this scourge. One notable element of the Convention, he observed, was the obligation of states to identify transnational bribery and illicit enrichment as crimes in their domestic legislation. The Venezuelan delegate expressed the hope that more states will be able to sign. the Convention by the time of the OASGA in June, and that those which have already signed will ratify by then.
REPORT ON THE DEMOCRACY AND HUMAN RIGHTS ACTION PLAN (Brazil)
The representative from Brazil, on behalf of his government and that of Canada, informed members that the first meeting of the new working group on Dernocracy and Human Rights under the aegis of the OAS Inter-American Summits Management Committee occurred on May 6. As a result of this meeting, Brazil and Canada will send letters to all Summit states requesting observations and comments on their joint proposal on Democracy and Human Rights by July 3 1. Brazil and Canada will review the incoming remarks, and work together to draft a new document which focuses on areas of interest which Summit countries have identified. The two Coordinators then plan to convene the next meeting of the working group in September to consider this updated proposal. The delegate from Brazil expressed the hope that discussions on the joint proposal, while gradual, would ultimately prove fruitful in real and concrete terms.
REPORT ON THE CARTAGENA TRADE MINISTERIAL (Colombia)
The preparatory process leading up to the March 21 Trade Ministerial, and the results of those sessions, were described by Colombian Vice Minister of Trade Alfonso Llorente. He noted that the ministers' declaration reiterated the principles of hemispheric integration as initiated in Miami and Denver. The ministers also received the reports of the seven working groups, extended their mandates, and established areas of immediate attention. They created four new working groups for intellectual property rights, services, competition policy, and public sector purchasing, giving them direction and terms of reference. They agreed to form a twelfth working group on dispute settlement next year. The continuing role of the tripartite committee and other regional institutions was confirmed, and Belo Horizonte, Brazil, was designated for the 1997 Trade Ministerial (as was Costa Rica for 1998). The ensuing discussion, emphasized the importance of regular interchange between those engaged in the FTAA process and the SIRG, even though the SIRG is not necessarily composed of trade policy experts.
REPORT ON STATUS OF THE BOLIVIA SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT SUMMIT CONFERENCE (Bolivia)
Bolivian Vice Foreign Minister Jaime Aparicio reported on preparations for the Sustainable Development Summit/Conference to be held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia December 7-8, 1996. He asked that Foreign Ministries make every effort to ensure rapid coordination and dissemination of information between governmental agencies involved in the planning process for the conference. He told the group that plans are underway for consideration of five thematic areas: water, energy, forests, harmonization of legislation, and social issues. These areas would be developed with economic, social and environmental criteria in mind.
TIMING AND VENUE OF THE NEXT SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS
Discussion under this agenda item. focussed on announcements, to be made at the Summit Review Meeting of the Hemispheric Foreign Ministers in Panama on June 2, regarding the time and site of the next Summit of the Americas (SOA). 1 opened the discussion by citing the undertakings in this regard taken by the Hernispheres' Foreign Ministers at the 1994 Miami Summit and at their 1995 meeting in Haiti. Based on a series of consultations that the United States had recently carried out, ¡t appeared that a consensus had developed that the next SOA should be held in late 1997 or early 1998.
In response, a number of delegations confirmed their governments' support for the time frame suggested by the Chairman. Several countries noted the importance of continuity in management of the Summit process. After one delegation suggested that while the time frame could be announced in Panama, the exact date could be identified at the Summit on Sustainable Development, in Santa Cruz this December, it was agreed that this was an acceptable formula.
Turing to the question of venue, ¡t was observed there had been three - Argentina, Chile, Uruguay - which had offered to host the next, Summit. Delegates from each government spoke. The representative from Argentina said that while his government had a strong and serious interest in hosting the next SOA, President Menem had elected to support President FrePs bid to host. Argentina took this step out of respect for the fact that President Frei had extended the first invitation to host the next SOA in Miami. Also, the Argentine delegate expressed complete confidence in the diplomatic abilities and skills of the Chilean government which will be mobilized in hosting the next SOA.
The delegate from Chile said his country would be honored to host. lf Chile's offer were ratified at the Ministerial level, the Chilean government could promise it would. spare no effort for achieving a successful Summit.
The representative from Uruguay stated his government attached great importance to the next SOA as it would provide an opportunity to establish new guidelines and to strengthen and energize the Summit Process. While Uruguay was considering extending an offer to host, the government had not yet reached a final decision. He anticipated that the question of the venue would be confirmed at an upcoming meeting of the Rio Group, Ministers in Cochabamba.
In closing discussion on the question of venue, I indicated that, the next host of the SOA would be announced at the meeting of Hemispheric Ministers in Panama.
DISCUSSION OF THE SUMMIT IMPLEMENTATION PROCESS: STREAMLINING AND ELIMINATING IMPEDIMENTS
Role of the SIRG (Canada - lead)
The Canadian representative expressed a desire to continue to use the SIRG mechanism to focus directly on Summit issues at a high level. He suggested that SIRG meetings should be strict1y results oriented, contributing to a constructive Summit implementation process. He proposed that the responsible coordinators of Summit initiatives bring specific programs, concerns or activities to the SIRG for a decision on future action. The SIRG should ideally meet twice a year to listen to presentations on specific projects that require the consent of all hemispheric countries.
There was general agreement that the SIRG should continue to respond to the desires of the elected leaders of the Hemisphere through a review of implementation policies in areas designated for special review, as done by the Foreign Ministers in Haiti in 1995. There also was general consensus that the SIRG has been performing effectively as an implementation mechanism, and that fine-tuning of responsibilities must continue, particularly as preparations begin for the next Summit. It was suggested that the host of the next summit should consider the role of the SIRG in preparatory work. In that regard, the government of Chile and. others agreed that the SIRG would be a useful forum. for the multilateral negotiations on agenda and documents for the next summit.
The sense of the meeting was that the SIRG is a useful tool which must continue to assist in the implementation of commitments made by the Hemispheric leaders in Miami.
Representatives welcomed the government of Canada's proposals for helping further define the role of the SIRG. There was also a general sense that the emphasis should be on concrete implementation and policy review, rather than constant reexamination of process.
Options for Reducing Meetings (Brazil - lead)
Brazil led off the discussion with reference to the need for transparency and due process in Summit implementation activities; this included the suggestion that all events be discussed in the SIRG before including them on the calendar. Conveners of events should inform SIRG delegates in writing ahead of time to make discussions and decisions more efficient. The need to centralize communications through Foreign Ministries was also emphasized, and the possibility of collecting all Summit documents into book form was mentioned. Suggestions for reduction of meetings included more use of teleconferencing and internet channels, and holding related meetings back-to-back - which would reduce the need for personnel travel, and economize on interpreting services and conference facilities.
Rationalization of Budget/Resource Matters (Argentina - lead)
The Argentine delegate noted that budgetary and personnel resources were barriers to implementation which all governments must face, a difficult task given the long-term commitments many initiatives require. An efficient implementation process depends not only on a high degree of international coordination, but intra-governmental as well. Governments need to look beyond traditional resources and consider measures that would allow for increased participation of the private sector, non-governmental entities, and intentional organizations in implementation activities. Subsequent discussion stressed the special responsibility of Foreign Ministries in coordinating implementation, though some pointed out the benefits of increased communication among governments in the Hemisphere.
Smaller Country Participation (Nicaragua - lead)
The delegate of Nicaragua described the unique experience of his country in being a Responsible Coordinator of the initiative on Women in Society. The active participation of the Nicaraguan president has been paramount in providing leadership in this area. Other useful. mechanisms have been increased sub-regional integration among smaller developing states and partnerships with larger countries in holding Summit events. Several other smaller countries offered their perspectives, noting that in some cases their size limited them. to concentrating on a select few of the initiatives. Some recommended development of a mechanism within the implementation process for sharing representation -at the numerous follow-up meetings.
Improving Communications (Jamaica - lead)
Jamaica began the discussion on improving communication in the implementation process by observing that all 34 countries are stretched thin trying to keep up with the process. Each government should establish a Summit Coordinating office which could include both public and private sector elements' * Governments of the Hemisphere were urged to send documents through the Summit Coordinating Office to ensure full distribution. Governments are also urged to use and make inputs to the Summit calendar of events as the primary means to be aware of upcoming events. Perhaps a Summit documentation center could be established to serve as a repository for important documents. Thought also should be given to including sub-regional organizations' secretariats in SIRG meetings.
THE BEST SIRG MEETING YET
The discussion of how to improve the SIRG role and review process proved one of the most thoughtful and useful we have had thus far. While every suggestion may not be able to be adopted in full, we are resolved to do the very best we can to build a better mechanism. The widespread view confirmed by a large number of delegates that this was the best SIRG meeting held thus far seemed to vindicate our efforts to perfect the mechanism as we proceed. The increased level of participation by Caribbean governments was noteworthy and undoubted1y enriched the discussion. The active and high-level participation of all governments at the meeting also contributed to the success of this our sixth conference. Finally, the facilitative assistance provided by our host, the Jamaican government, and especially by Ambassador Ellen Bogle, were excellent and unquestionably aided us in conducting the finest of meetings.
I personally am grateful. for the opportunity of meeting with and chairing the SIRG in Kingston. I look forward to not only seeing many of you in Panama, but to sitting down with you at our next meeting in Washington in September. We will want to give added, impetus to implementing the Miami Action Plan and examine how we may begin formulating the, agenda for the next Summit of the Americas. Till then, 1 remain at your service in fostering the Spirit of Miami in all our Hemispheric exchanges.