PROGRESS REPORT OF THE GENERAL SECRETARIAT OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES ON THE ACTIVITIES OF THE ORGANIZATION TO IMPLEMENT THE MANDATES OF THE SANTIAGO SUMMIT

XVII Meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group

Washington, D.C., November 19, 1999

 Office of Summit Follow-Up
1889 F Street, N.W., Washington D.C., U.S.A., 20006
(202) 458-6866
http://www.summit-americas.org
summit-info@oas.org


INDEX:


INTRODUCTION 

This report of the General Secretariat contains information on the activities of the Organization of American States undertaken to implement the mandates of the Second Summit of the Americas, held in Santiago Chile, in April of 1998. 

This report covers the activities of the Organization for the period March - November 1999, the period since the XVI meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group, held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic March 8, 1999. The information is presented under the headings of the Santiago Plan of Action, and in the order presented in that document. The report contains information only on those mandates in which the Organization is involved.

For additional information please see the Summit of the Americas Information Network (SAIN) http://www.summit-americas.org 

EDUCATION 

During the second half of 1999, the Unit for Social Development and Education has continued to focus its efforts in pursuit of the mandates of the Second Summit of the Americas. These actions include participating at the meetings of the Inter-Agency Education Group of the Summit of the Americas, which is composed of representatives of the coordinating countries and international organizations involved in education matters in the Americas. The Group examines the extent to which the Summit’s mandates have been put into practice and it assesses proposed programs and projects drawn up in accordance with the Summit’s lines of action.

 In conjunction with UNESCO, the Unit prepared and published the book Educación para un Futuro Sostenible en las Américas [Education for a Sustainable Future in the Americas], which was presented in Paris during the last week of October 1999 at UNESCO's XXX General Conference. This book is part of the Education Series of the OAS’s inter-American Collection. Regarding education and sustainability, the Unit also sponsored the IV inter-American Environmental Congress at the Monterrey Technological Institute, Mexico, in October 1999. 

In a partnership with the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the Unit jointly sponsored the First Meeting for the Integration of Agricultural and Rural Education in the Americas, held at OAS headquarters in August 1999. This meeting created a network of American investigators engaged in developing agricultural education programs at the university level. 

The Unit has been negotiating and preparing cooperation agreements with UNESCO (education for democracy and sustainability), with the World Bank (education and integral child development), with UNESCO’s International Institute for Educational Planning (IIEP) (education management and planning), and with the Organization of Ibero-American States for Education, Science, and Culture (OEI) (education and development). The agreement with the World Bank was signed in the first half of 1999; the one with the IIEP in Buenos Aires in September; the one with UNESCO in Paris in October; and the one with the OEI will be signed at OAS headquarters during November 1999.

Regarding its technical cooperation programs with its member States, the OAS continues to support six multilateral projects ($2,158,100) in compliance with the Santiago Summit mandate. These six projects are: 

Finally, the OAS General Assembly in June adopted the resolution "The Inter-American Program on Education," which charges the Inter-American Council for Integral Development ("CIDI") with exploring the possibility of holding the second Meeting of Ministers of Education during the year 2000 in order to assess compliance with the mandates of the Santiago Summit and the Inter-American Program on Education.

HUMAN RIGHTS 

Inter-American Commission on Human Rights: 

The 104th Regular Session of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights was held between September 21 and October 8, 1999. On that occasion, the Commission was honored to receive a visit by the President of the Republic of Venezuela, Hugo Chávez Frías, and that country’s foreign minister, José Vicente Rangel. President Chávez expressed his support for the Commission’s work and the Venezuelan government’s interest in respecting and ensuring human rights within the context of the process that the country is undergoing, and he invited the Commission to conduct an on-site visit to the Republic of Venezuela. The IACHR accepted this invitation, and the date for the visit will be determined at the earliest convenience. 

The Commission held 51 hearings on individual cases, the general human rights situation in various nations around the hemisphere, precautionary measures, and other matters of interest to it. Regarding friendly settlement proceedings, the Commission held hearings and working meetings on four cases involving Argentina, three involving Brazil, three for Colombia, nineteen on Ecuador, two involving Guatemala, four for Mexico, five involving Paraguay, and two in the case of Peru. The Commission continued to study numerous individual allegations of violations of rights protected by the American Convention and/or the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man, and it adopted a total of 42 reports on individual petitions and cases. 

The Commission will hold a special session in San José, Costa Rica, beginning on November 19, 1999. 

Dialogue on the Inter-American Human Rights Promotion and Protection System:

The Chairman of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs, and Mexico’s permanent representative to the OAS, Ambassador Claude Heller, recently submitted a document entitled "Dialogue on the Inter-American Human Rights Promotion and Protection System." The Committee is to discuss this document with a view toward defining an agenda for dialogue on this issue. This document contains the following three discussion points: assessing the system’s instruments and institutions, strengthening and improving the inter-American system, and proposals to the General Assembly.

CIVIL SOCIETY

In order to establish mechanisms to facilitate participation by civil society in the activities of the Organization, in June 1999 the General Assembly decided to create a committee of the Permanent Council, called the Committee on Civil Society Participation in OAS Activities. This committee’s tasks include drafting rules to govern civil society participation in the activities of the OAS in accordance with the intergovernmental nature of the Organization and the terms of its Charter.

On September 21, 1999, a first working document, entitled "Guidelines for Participation by Civil Society organizations in OAS Activities," was submitted to the Committee. The Committee is required to complete its task no later than December 31, 1999. The Secretariat is supporting the Committee through a webpage, http://www.civil-society.oas.org, which also serves as a source of information for civil society and the public at large.

In addition, the Special Committee on Summits Management, chaired by Ambassador Peter Boehm, Canada’s Permanent Representative to the OAS, held a meeting on October 12, 1999, to assess progress on the implementation of the mandates on women, strengthening municipal and regional administrations, fostering the development of micro, small and medium size enterprises, building confidence and security among states, regional energy cooperation, and science and technology. The meeting was open to representatives of civil society and it was broadcast live over the Internet in order to secure the broadest possible audience from across the hemisphere. For each subject area, presentations were made by international organizations and experts from different sectors of civil society. The purpose of the meeting was to exchange ideas in order to build a comprehensive combined effort to implement the mandates in question.

Finally, the Office of Summit Follow-Up is working with the Responsible Coordinators in charge of the civil society mandate, the Dominican Republic and Jamaica.

Inter-American Strategy for Public Participation in Decision-Making for Sustainable Development (ISP)

Last summer, the OAS General Secretariat began the final stages in designing the Inter-American Strategy for Public Participation in Decision-Making for Sustainable Development (ISP) with the production of two documents that comprise the Strategy: the Policy Framework and the Recommendations for Action. Between July and October of this year, a Hemisphere-wide consultation process was conducted in order to evaluate these two documents. This process involved national consultations held simultaneously with sectoral consultations. 

At the national level, the ISP’s National Focal Points invited members of civil society and government representatives to draw up comments and recommendations on these documents. To date 18 countries from around the hemisphere have responded to the call for national consultation. Similarly, the sectoral consultation brought together representatives of civil society who dealt with four high priority issues in the region: the business sector, indigenous populations, women, and sustainable development and the environment. 

In order to further evaluate the documents, a Consultation Meeting was convened in Mexico City on September 8-10, 1999, attended by representatives of civil society and the ISP’s National Focal Points from each participating country. Once all the observations and comments from the national and sectoral consultations and from the Mexico City meeting had been gathered together, a new draft of the Inter-American Strategy for Public Participation in Decision-Making for Sustainable Development document was drawn up; this was submitted to the second meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development (CIDS), held in Washington on October 13-15, 1999.

At that meeting, member States adopted a resolution creating a CIDS Working Group to finalize the ISP; this group involves the National Focal Points and/or the Permanent Missions to the OAS. The ISP Working Group will meet at OAS headquarters on November 11-12 in order to carry out this task. 

MIGRANT WORKERS 

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights has requested that the Temporary Secretariat of the Regional Conference on Migrations (the "Puebla Group" or the "Puebla Process") grant the Commission observer status in order for it to learn more about this important regional forum on migrations. The IACHR is also working towards signing an institutional cooperation agreement with the International Organization for Migration (IOM) so the that the two institutions can carry out a series of joint activities regarding migrant workers and their families.

 In the Santiago Plan of Action the Member States agreed to "seek full respect for, and compliance with, the 1963 Vienna Convention on Consular Relations, especially as it relates to the right of nationals, regardless of their immigration status, to communicate with a consular officer of their own State in case of detention". In this regard, it is important to highlight advisory opinion OC-16/99 issued by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights on October 1, 1999, in which a number of individual rights under the Convention were clarified.

STRENGTHENING MUNICIPAL AND REGIONAL ADMINISTRATIONS

The UPD Program of Cooperation simultaneously focuses on the "Strengthening Regional and Municipal Administrations" and the "Civil Society" mandates of the Santiago Summit, the latter of which, among other things, calls for the OAS to serve as a forum for the exchange of experiences and information on civil society participation. Experience in the member States has pointed to the particular potential of the sub-national levels of government for promoting and strengthening public sector-civil society dialogue and civil society participation in decision-making on public policy issues.

The Program of Cooperation was developed within the Unit’s 1998 and 1999 Work Plans as approved by the Permanent Council of the Organization and is based on the Summit mandates as well as preparatory seminars and conferences held in 1997, as well as ongoing consultations. The UPD Program of Cooperation in Decentralization, Local Government and Citizen Participation aims at :

The program is organized sub-regionally, activities are undertaken with CARICOM; Central America and the Dominican Republic as another; and finally, the South American block, incorporating (States of the Andean Community and the Southern Cone). The UPD has found that the sub-regional approach facilitates information exchanges and the creation and dissemination of specialized knowledge, as well as the formation of sub-regional networks of technical and resource personnel working on these issues. 

Within the sub-regional frameworks, program objectives are achieved through seminars and experts’ meetings, training workshops and short term courses and applied research, and information dissemination. Networks of experts formed under the Program are supported by a specialized Internet website, incorporating documentation from the Program’s meetings and other activities, providing links to other resource institutions, and encouraging contact and dialogue. 

The following six basic program areas were targeted by the Caracas Seminar for analysis and cooperative action: 

All program activities are planned and implemented in collaboration with agencies and institutions in member states, and in 1999 the Program has aimed at deepening dialogue and examining the thematic areas identified by the first round of sub-regional meetings held in 1998. Activities for 1999 are the following:

CORRUPTION 

During the period of this report, progress was made on the anti-corruption projects and activities of the OAS' Department of Legal Cooperation including in particular the Workshop to Disseminate and Incorporate into Domestic Law the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption in Colombia, Costa Rica, and Venezuela. The general aim of this event was to publicize the nature, content, and scope of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption through national workshops intended to promote greater awareness of the Convention’s principles in the participating countries. 

The OAS and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) signed a cooperation agreement on March 26, 1999. This agreement led to the OAS/IDB project The State of Criminal Legislation vis-à-vis the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, which will support twelve OAS member countries in incorporating the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption into their domestic legislation, in particular as regards the provisions of criminal law. This initiative will be carried out through technical investigations to analyze the state of criminal law vis-à-vis the terms of the Convention that will then be disseminated and enhanced at workshops organized for that purpose. Organizations representing civil society will be invited to participate both during the implementation of this project and in its follow-up, which will result in the creation of an Exchange Network for information and cooperation which could in turn promote a broader debate on this issue. 

The Inter-American Network of Institutions and Experts in the Struggle Against Corruption is a response to an initiative by the Organization’s Secretary General that was taken up during the Symposium on Enhancing Probity in the Hemisphere (Santiago, November 1998). It aims at promoting greater exchanges of information and experiences to promote cooperation and coordinate hemispheric actions in the struggle against corruption. The Network, which is still being fine-tuned and expanded, already involves 56 public institutions and civil society organizations from 19 of the Organization’s member States. 

Finally, to serve as a source of information, the Anti-Corruption Information System was created. This is an information service covering issues related to the struggle against corruption that can be consulted through the Department’s webpage (http://www.oas.org/EN/PROG/Juridico/ english/FightCur.html).

 In addition, the XXIX OAS General Assembly adopted a resolution to re-initiate the activities of the Working Group on Probity and Civic Ethics of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs; this will allow it to follow up on the Inter-American Program for Cooperation in the Fight against Corruption and on the recommendations of the Symposium on Enhancing Probity in the Hemisphere. 

Trust of the Americas 

The Trust of the Americas is preparing a series of regional events across Latin America, aimed at journalists, government officials, companies, NGOs, and multilateral organizations, to undertake a joint and equal struggle against corruption. This is the direct result of the mandates handed down by the hemisphere’s leaders at the Second Summit of the Americas, in which press freedoms and fighting corruption were identified as hemispheric priorities in two separate mandates. 

This event will examine key institutional reforms undertaken in the different sub-regions, thus providing information on practices and viewpoints regarding the decision-making process in the war on corruption. This initiative will be followed by two weeks of intensive training for investigative journalists who specialize in covering corruption and government issues.

PREVENTION AND CONTROL OF ILLICIT CONSUMPTION OF AND TRAFFIC IN DRUGS AND PSYCHOTROPIC SUBSTANCES AND OTHER RELATED CRIMES 

When the Heads of State and Government met at the Second Summit in April 1998, they mandated the creation of a Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism to serve in the fight against illicit drug trafficking and production. Based on this, the twenty-third regular meeting of CICAD, held in May 1998, formed an Intergovernmental Working Group on the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism (IWG-MEM). The objective of the MEM is directly to strengthen mutual confidence, dialogue and hemispheric cooperation in order to deal with the drug problem with greater efficacy. The MEM is also to follow-up on the progress of individual and collective efforts of all the countries participating in the Mechanism, indicating both results achieved as well as obstacles faced by the countries. 

At the Twenty-Sixth Regular Session of CICAD held in Montevideo, Uruguay in October, 1999, and following six meetings of the Intergovernmental Working Group over the course of 1998 and 1999, the member countries of CICAD approved the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism. A description of the final process follows. 

Countries to be evaluated will provide data in response to a standard questionnaire, also approved at CICAD's Twenty-Sixth Regular Session. Each country will also present a document prepared by its government on the situation of the country’s drug problem. This document will illustrate achievements made by the country, as well as the difficulties it faces and areas in which cooperation should be strengthened. 

The indicators designed for the questionnaire are divided into five main categories: National Plans and Strategies; Prevention and Treatment; Reduction of Drug Production; Law Enforcement Measures; and the Cost of the Drug Problem. These indicators should serve as tools for measuring national and hemispheric efforts and results to combat illicit drug use, production, and trafficking. They can provide feedback on how nations are meeting goals in a wide range of areas, including the development of anti-drug strategies and national plans, drug seizure operations, the creation of prevention and rehabilitation programs, reductions in illicit crop production, diversion of precursor chemicals, prevention of money laundering and arms trafficking, among others. 

The member States decided that the Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism will be applicable to all States, individually and collectively; that it will be governmental, singular and objective, with the participation of specialized representatives of the governments; and that it will be transparent, impartial, and equitable so as to ensure objective evaluation; that it will ensure full, timely participation by the States, based on generally applied norms and procedures, established by mutual agreement in advance, in order to ensure an equitable evaluation process. The countries also agreed that the MEM will not contain sanctions of any nature and that it will respect the confidentiality of deliberations and information administered by the States. 

The member States committed themselves to support the successful conduct and completion of the first evaluation exercise in 2000. This is to be carried out by a Governmental Experts’ Group (GEG) made up of experts from all 34 member states who will use the results of the questionnaires, and the summary documents presented by each government to carry out evaluations on a country-by-country basis. Final evaluation drafts will be submitted to the Commission for consideration and approval. The GEG will be responsible for the 34 individual multilateral evaluations and the hemispheric report, together with recommendations on how to strengthen cooperation and the capacity of States to address the drug problem as well as to stimulate technical assistance and training programs as part of overall anti-drug efforts. 

The Executive Secretariat of CICAD will provide the necessary support for the Governmental Experts’ Group to ensure completion of the first evaluation exercise in December 2000. It is hoped that the results may be presented at the Summit of the Americas, to be held in Quebec City, Canada, in 2001

TERRORISM 

In compliance with the Plan of Action on Hemispheric Cooperation to Prevent, Combat, and Eliminate Terrorism, adopted at the First Inter-American Specialized Conference on Terrorism (Lima, 1996), and in accordance with the creation, within the OAS, of a body to specialize in the study and prevention of terrorism that was proposed at the Second Specialized Conference on Terrorism (Mar de Plata, Argentina; November 1998), the XXIX Regular Session of the General Assembly resolved to create and approve the statutes of the Inter-American Committee Against Terrorism (CICTE). 

CICTE held its first regular meeting in Miami, Florida, on October 28-29, 1999. At the meeting, the OAS member States adopted a set of regulations to govern the Committee’s operations. The countries also adopted a Work Plan instructing the General Secretariat to undertake a wide range of activities, the most important of which are described below. 

As regards documentation, the General Secretariat will prepare a directory of the competent anti-terrorist authorities in the member States. It will also gather together the bilateral, sub-regional, regional, and multilateral agreements regarding terrorism entered into by the member States, together with the regulations and laws for preventing, combating, and eliminating terrorism in force in those countries. 

The Secretariat will also evaluate the mechanisms for enforcing the provisions of international law set forth in the conventions in force for the member States, and it will prepare an analytical study of all applicable legal cooperation provisions with a view toward strengthening them. 

Regarding the formulation and implementation of technical assistance programs for the member States, the General Secretariat will establish contacts with other international agencies with experience in this field and it will prepare a report. It will also identify programs managed by other competent international organizations and it will design programs to be carried out by the member states or by international agencies with experience in security matters at airports, ports, diplomatic premises, etc. 

In designing and implementing cooperation mechanisms, the General Secretariat will undertake a number of activities which include the following:

BUILDING CONFIDENCE AND SECURITY AMONG STATES 

In the Santiago Plan of Action, the Heads of State and Government instructed the OAS Committee on Hemispheric Security to: 1) Follow-up on and expand topics relating to confidence and security building measures; 2) analyze the meaning, scope, and implications of international security concepts in the Hemisphere, with a view to developing the most appropriate common approaches by which to manage their various aspects, including disarmament and arms control; and, 3) pinpoint ways to revitalize and strengthen the institutions of the Inter-American System related to the various aspects of Hemispheric Security. 

In order to accomplish the first task, the Committee on Hemispheric Security reviewed the progress made on implementing the initiatives for confidence and security building measures adopted in the Santiago and San Salvador Conferences. This was done at a meeting held February 25, 1999, at which the Chairs of the two Conferences in question participated. Exchanges of information through the Organization have continued, and a number of member States have submitted reports to the Committee on Hemispheric Security on the implementation measures they have taken. In addition, a meeting of experts was recently held in Cartagena, Colombia, on the issue of education for peace. The meeting produced an educational program, the objectives of which are to prevent conflicts, reduce violence, and promote peace – based on education provided to the Hemisphere’s youth. 

In pursuit of its second task, the Committee held a meeting April 20 and 21 during which it redefined the concept of security and the nature of threats in the Hemisphere. The role of the OAS, of its General Secretariat, and of the Inter-American Defense Board were also discussed at the meeting as were the following issues: strengthening the Committee on Hemispheric Security; cooperation between member States to find quick solutions to problems and to threats to security; and the need to establish mechanisms which ensure long-term peace. 

In order to stimulate regional dialogue and to promote an environment of confidence and security, a forum on the future of international security in the Hemisphere was held at OAS Headquarters in April 1999. The forum, organized by the Permanent Mission of Chile with support from the OAS General Secretariat and the Permanent Mission of the United States, brought together academics and diplomats and facilitated an exchange of ideas the objective of which was to unify the principal concepts and definitions of the security issue. 

The OAS, through the General Secretariat, has undertaken a series of initiatives to address the concerns of small Island States. On the issues of the environment and natural disasters, the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment has developed technical assistance programs on disaster mitigation and on climate change adaptation. These programs were developed with external funding. The Inter-American Drug Abuse Control Commission has also lent assistance in the areas of the fights against drug trafficking and drug abuse. 

The Secretariat, through the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy, and with the technical assistance of the Inter-American Defense Board, continues its Demining Assistance Program. It is focusing its efforts on Central America, where there are on-going programs in Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras. 

In terms of the transparency of defense policies in the Hemisphere, a major accomplishment was made at the XXIX OAS General Assembly in Guatemala, where member States adopted the Inter-American Convention on Transparency in Conventional Weapons Acquisitions. 24 member States signed the convention in Guatemala which imposes mandatory reporting requirements on weapons acquisitions. With the Convention, the Hemisphere becomes the first region in the world to have such a mandatory agreement on the exchange of information on conventional weapons. 

On the issue of cooperation in response to natural disasters and for humanitarian search and rescue operations, a significant achievement was also made at the Guatemala General Assembly when the member States adopted a resolution bringing the Organization’s response mechanisms up-to-date. Hurricanes George and Mitch, along with the earthquake in Colombia, made evident the need for this modernization, the result of which was the creation of an Inter-American Committee on Disasters.

STRENGTHENING OF JUSTICE SYSTEMS AND JUDICIARIES 

The special General Assembly held on November 15, 1999 approved the creation of the Center for Justice Studies, the statutes of which were drawn up by the working group of government experts over the course of five meetings at OAS headquarters. 

The aim of the Center is to facilitate information exchanges, technical cooperation, and support for the reform and modernization of justice systems in the region. The member States agreed that the Center would first tackle criminal justice issues. The Center’s headquarters are to be selected at the next meeting of Justice Ministers scheduled to take place in Costa Rica in 2000. 

As regards cybercrime, a second Meeting of Experts was held to analyze the Government Experts’ draft report based on the questionnaire developed by the member states. Special guests to deal with the question of cybercrime were in attendance, including representatives of CitiGroup, America Online, the FBI, and other private sector companies. The government experts recommended the member States create public agencies to investigate and prosecute cybercrime. The experts urged all the countries to make the necessary efforts to harmonize their applicable laws in order to facilitate international cooperation in combating these crimes.

Mention should also be made of the meeting of government experts on crime and crime prevention, held in Medellín, Colombia, in April 1999. This meeting identified actions and additional measures that could be taken at the Inter-American level to prevent and combat crime.

MODERNIZATION OF THE STATE IN LABOR MATTERS

In Lima in June 1999, Labor Ministers' Working Group I (on globalization of the economy and its social and labor dimensions), created at the 10th Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor, met to discuss the following issues related to the social dimension of integration processes: transformations in the structure and function of job markets and labor regimes; professional training and skill acquisition; and assistance systems for unemployed workers. In connection with these issues, the Group proposed drawing up a Ministerial Declaration that would set forth principles for tackling the social dimension of integration processes, the adoption of basic labor rules, and procedures for ensuring their compliance.

The Ministers' Working Group II (on modernization of the state and labor administration: requirements and challenges) met in San José, Costa Rica, in April 1999. At this meeting the Group analyzed a broad range of functions performed by labor ministries and concluded that changes had to be made in a number of areas. These two Groups will meet again in November and December to continue their work.

With regard to employment and labor affairs, the Second Summit of the Americas requested the OAS’s cooperation to assist labor ministries in exchanging information on methods and strategies for modernizing the State and labor administrations. In compliance with this, the Unit for Social Development and Education is supporting the member States’ efforts at the four levels described below.

  1. At the ministerial level, the Unit serves as the Technical Secretariat of the Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor and it has been providing permanent assistance to the Conference’s pro tem chair, particularly in preparing and organizing the meetings of the two Working Groups referred to above. The Unit is currently preparing the 11th Inter-American Conference of Ministers of Labor, which is to take place in the Dominican Republic, January 13-14, 2000, and will assess progress with implementing the Viña del Mar Action Plan in the context of the mandates of the 2nd Summit of the Americas.
  2. Regarding labor information systems, the Unit is providing technical support for the implementation of a System of Information on Labor Markets (SISMEL), thereby complying with a specific mandate handed down by the labor ministers. To date, the following progress has been made: a set of basic labor indicators for assessing the impact of economic policies on labor markets have been selected; direct cooperation has been provided for thirteen countries for improving labor statistics; two regional seminars have been organized to determine standardized terminology and labor indicators; a SISMEL webpage has been launched which interconnects twenty labor ministries in a labor market information network.
  3. In the field of employment promotion policies, the Unit is collaborating with the labor ministries in identifying, exchanging, promoting, and disseminating policies and programs intended to generate productive employment. To this end, in conjunction with the chair of the Conference of Labor Ministers, it is supporting the implementation of multilateral horizontal cooperation program to enable the member States to assess and exchange experiences with employment and job training policies. To date three regional seminars have been held, dealing with the following areas: (i) productive employment policies, (ii) job training policies, and (iii) protection policies for unemployed workers. In addition, an electronic information network is being set up to interconnect the labor ministries in regard to this issue.
  4. Finally, in accordance with the mandate of the Second Summit of the Americas regarding specific instruments for expanding job creation, the Unit has held four seminars on Policies and Instruments for the Development of Small Businesses. These events were aimed at making government authorities and business leaders aware of the most successful policies and programs in the region.

FREE TRADE AREA OF THE AMERICAS

During the third meeting of the Trade Negotiation Committee held in Cochabamba, Bolivia, July 28 to 30, member States achieved consensus on 9 out of 10 business facilitation measures. Those agreements are in respect to the commitment made by the leaders of the 34 member States to achieve substantial concrete progress by January 2000. Business facilitation measures adopted at the meeting included procedures covering temporary importation or admission of goods related to business travel; express shipments; simplified procedures for low-value shipments; compatible electronic data interchange systems; a harmonized commodity description and coding system; dissemination of customs information and procedures; common data elements for administering customs and border transactions; codes of conduct for customs officials; and risk analysis and targeting methodology to enable customs officials to focus enforcement activity on high-risk travelers and goods while speeding the movement of low-risk goods. The measures were reviewed by a committee of customs experts meeting in Miami in mid-September were subsequently considered by the Ministers of the 34 FTAA member nations at their November 1999 ministerial in Toronto.

Meeting in Toronto during the Fifth Trade Ministerial of the FTAA process November 3 and 4, 1999, Ministers of Trade of the 34 member States agreed on a comprehensive business facilitation package, focusing on practical measures to simplify customs clearances and to promote government transparency. The business facilitation package includes eight customs measures that will reduce transaction costs and create a more consistent and predictable business environment, making it easier to conduct business in the hemisphere. As well, transparency measures will make procedures and regulations better known and accessible to the public, with the information kept current and relevant to business communities and other interested parties through the use of new communications technologies.

On November 3, 22 of the trade ministers and vice-ministers met with representatives from organizations representing a cross-section of civil society from across the Americas. The ministers were presented with recommendations that were developed at the Americas Civil Society Forum, on issues such as foreign direct investment, labor standards and poverty alleviation. They also engaged in a question and answer session with participants.

Ministers also agreed to a common approach on agricultural export subsidies for the upcoming World Trade Organization (WTO) negotiations in Seattle this December.

Technical Cooperation:

The centerpiece of the OAS Trade Unit’s technical assistance activities is the Training Course for Government Officials on the Multilateral and Regional Trade Issues for the Americas. Two sessions were held, one for Spanish speaking participants from June 14-25, and one for English speaking participants from June 28-July 9, 1999. A total of 54 participants from 28 countries in the hemisphere, as well as participants from the Andean Community Secretariat and the Regional Negotiating Machinery (RNM) of CARICOM, benefited from the expertise of 50 speakers in the two intensive courses in multilateral trade policy issues. The speakers and instructors were drawn from the governments of the hemisphere, the World Trade Organization, World Bank, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, the Inter-American Development Bank, the Organization of American States, Georgetown University and numerous think tanks, law firms and non-governmental organizations. The objective of the course was to deepen the understanding and methods of trade policy and its formulation with a focus on the smaller economies of the hemisphere.

The OAS Trade Unit organized a seminar entitled How Governments Can Further Promote and Facilitate the Use of Arbitration and Other Alternative Dispute Settlement Methods for Settling Private Sector Differences within the FTAA Region . The seminar was held in Miami on May 4, immediately preceding the third meeting of the FTAA Negotiating Group on Dispute Settlement. Topics covered included the public international legal order governing private commercial arbitration, arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution methods and the differences in common law and civil law perspectives, drafting arbitration agreements and enforcing arbitral awards within the Hemisphere, experience in establishing an Arbitration center, and the work of the NAFTA Advisory Committee on Private Commercial Disputes.

On July 8-9, the OAS Trade Unit, in conjunction with the Ministry of Foreign Trade of Costa Rica (COMEX) the Inter-American Development Bank’s Institute for the Integration of Latin America and the Caribbean (INTAL), organized a conference entitled Global Services Trade and the Americas. Held in San José, Costa Rica, the conference brought together government negotiators from the Western Hemisphere responsible for service negotiations, private sector executives from services industries, representatives of national service coalitions and academics. The purpose of the conference was to examine critical issues for the WTO millennium round negotiations; analyze the approach that the various sub-regional agreements in the hemisphere have adopted towards services liberalization; and to explore the services discussions at the FTAA level. The conference also included three sectoral workshops devoted to the areas of financial services, electronic commerce and telecommunications. In raising awareness of these issues for the Western Hemisphere, the conference’s objective was to serve as a building block to the World Services Congress, scheduled to take place in November in Atlanta, Georgia.

SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY

At its XXIX Regular Session in Guatemala, the OAS General Assembly approved resolution AG/RES 1690 on science and technology. With this resolution, member States of the Organization adopted the Inter-American Science and Technology Program, approved by the Inter-American Council for Integral Development as an integral part of the Strategic Plan for Partnership for Development 1997-2001. Member governments also instructed CIDI to promote the implementation of the Program, with the assistance of the Inter-American Commission on Science and Technology (COMCYT), in coordination with the Executive Secretariat for Integral Development and the Office of Science and Technology.

On October 26-27, the Office of Science and Technology, in conjunction with Mexico’s National Science and Technology Council (CONACYT), organized the second regular meeting of the Inter-American Commission on Science and Technology, which was held in Acapulco, Mexico. On that occasion the Office’s director submitted a document entitled "Guidelines for Science and Technology Cooperation within the OAS," which was then used by member State delegates as a starting point for discussions on a number of issues including the following: The usefulness of convening a new hemispheric meeting of science and technology ministers; the need to concentrate and focus resources from the Special Multilateral Fund of the Inter-American Council for Integral Development (FEMCIDI); the need to secure funds to supplement those of FEMCIDI; and the advisability of obtaining technical coordination and leadership from the member States in the areas of action set forth in the Inter-American Science and Technology Program (PRICYT). This latter point it to ensure that the proposed projects that are presented for approval first pass through a preliminary technical assessment, that they are multilateral in scope, and that they have the greatest possible impact on the region’s countries, particularly those with smaller economies. The Office of Science and Technology served as the technical secretariat for this second meeting of COMCYT.

At the meeting, the member States adopted a series of resolutions, including one which convokes the First Hemispheric Meeting of Ministers Responsible for Science and Technology under the aegis of CIDI, to be held at OAS headquarters in 2001. Other resolutions which were approved include one assigning two joint coordinating countries to each of the PRICYT’s areas of action, to take charge of the technical coordination of the science and technology cooperation projects covered by those areas; another giving the OAS Office of Science and Technology a mandate to provide the necessary support for the formulation of projects; a resolution recommending that the region’s countries increase their contributions to specific accounts in FEMCIDI’s science and technology sectoral account and that they identify and secure additional sources of financing pursuant to the terms of the Cartagena Declaration and Plan of Action. Finally, the governments adopted a resolution which paves the way for holding the 3rd meeting of COMCYT in Washington, D.C., in the year 2000, prior to the meetings of the Nonpermanent Specialized Committees (CENPEs) to allow for preliminary technical assessment of the projects submitted for FEMCIDI financing. Another of this meeting’s achievements was to clearly define the relationship between COMCYT and the Common Market of Scientific and Technological Knowledge (MERCOCYT).

On October 26, the 7th meeting of the Permanent Commission of MERCOCYT was held in Acapulco, Mexico. This meeting discussed the ways in which scientific and technological knowledge was exchanged and disseminated among the Organization’s member States. A bulletin containing information on MERCOCYT’s activities was distributed among the participants, and this four-language publication will later be sent to institutions in the Organization’s member states.

REGIONAL ENERGY COOPERATION

Ministers of Energy of the Americas met in New Orleans, Louisiana July 28 and 29, 1999 on the occasion of the Fourth Hemispheric Energy Ministers Meeting. The Ministers met to evaluate the progress towards the fulfillment of the goals previously adopted; to share experiences about the energy integration process and discuss ways to make further progress in this area, to discuss the importance of the clean development and use of energy, to encourage the energy business sector established in the Hemisphere to organize itself into a Business Forum; and to consider the extension of the current Coordinating Secretariat.

In adopting a New Orleans Declaration and a Joint Statement on Clean Development and Use of Energy, Ministers recognized that "to succeed in making sustainable energy development and use a reality for the 21st century, continued and aggressive efforts are needed to, remove remaining impediments to energy trade and investment, to promote projects to address local, regional and global environmental concerns, and to further increase opportunities for the private sector." Ministers also recognized that sustainable energy policies and development are integral elements of any strategy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

The Ministerial also produced an Energy Business Forum of the Americas, in which "Ministers agreed to facilitate an interchange of ideas and perspectives between the business sector and government officials of the energy sector on issues related to the implementation of the commitments on energy adopted in the Action Plans of the Miami and Santiago Summits of the Americas".

Many countries of the region have launched or are continuing aggressive rural electrification programs that rely heavily on the use of renewable energy sources. Among these nations are Chile, Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Peru, Guatemala, and Mexico. The Renewable Energy in the Americas (REIA) Initiative, a program of the Organization run by the Unit of Sustainable Development and Environment, is working throughout the region to promote environmentally clean development through the use of renewable energy and energy-efficient technologies. REIA works closely with energy ministers and financial institutions to develop means for implementing programs in these areas.

TELECOMUNICATIONS

Recognizing that telecommunications are essential for a country’s development and that our region has enormous needs in these regards, governments are placing particular emphasis on the subject. The following section describes some of the work undertaken by the Inter-American Telecommunication Commission (CITEL) over the last six months.

Documents Approved and Adopted in the Region:

In recent months, the member countries of CITEL have adopted coordinated standards documents for the following:

In addition, the Commission has adopted resolutions and recommendations regarding the use of the recommendations contained in Intelligent Network Capability Set 2. The Second Summit of the Americas, held in Santiago in 1998, stated that intelligent networks were a consistent priority throughout the region.

CITEL has updated its Certification Guidelines, which deal with the notions of "certification" and "approval/homologation" contained in International Standardization Organization (ISO) document No. 2 (98). This update was included in the "Definitions" section of the Inter-American Agreement on Mutual Recognition in Assessing the Conformity of Telecommunications Equipment.

At the Second Summit of the Americas, the Heads of State and Government decided to establish mechanisms to facilitate trade and access to information technology by entering into Mutual Recognition Agreements for conformity assessments. CITEL has approved a series of guidelines for the development of Mutual Recognition Agreements for telecommunications equipment conformity assessments in the Americas. In pursuit of this mandate, CITEL’s Permanent Consultative Committee I instructed the Ad Hoc Group on Telecommunications Equipment Certification to prepare guidelines and a reference framework toward the creation of a Mutual Recognition Agreement among CITEL member States.

In October 1999, CITEL approved guidelines and practices for regulating interconnectivity. The mandate of the Santiago Plan of Action requires CITEL to draw up optimal guidelines for interconnections by the end of 1999.

CITEL has requested that government authorities declare the Internet as a national interest and that they devise and implement national plans for Internet access. In particular, the Commission has suggested that governments, in conjunction with the private sector, devise fee schedules for Internet access which will facilitate mass public access, and that free Internet access for schools and universities should be considered within the schedules. The Commission also suggested that governments support teaching of Internet programming languages and that along with the telecommunications industry, they devise ways to facilitate and increase purchases of computers by the general population.

CITEL has also approved the creation of a database containing policies, guidelines, administrative procedures, regulations, standards, and rates in force in the Commission's member States for the granting of concessions, licenses, and permits for the use of the radio spectrum and satellite orbital positions.

Publications:

CITEL is preparing a book on "Universal Service in the Americas," intended to resolve the needs of the region’s countries in this regard. Universal service or universal access is, within the current telecommunications revolution, the foundation on which telecommunications policies and laws are based. The publication was produced with assistance from the ITU and AHCIET and is expected to be available by April 2000. It comprises four sections: the treatment of universal service/access in the ITU, the treatment of universal service/access within CITEL, the treatment of universal service/access in the WTO’s negotiations on basic telecommunications, and universal service/access in the Americas.

The Commission is also working on publishing an update of the "Blue Book" that gathers together the telecommunications policy and regulatory recommendations in force in the region. This task is being undertaken in conjunction with the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) and the book should be available in April 2000.

Cooperation with Regional and International Bodies:

The Commission participates at international meetings, chiefly world telecommunications standardization meetings, radio-communications events, and assemblies of ITU plenipotentiaries. CITEL has successfully worked for the inclusion and acceptance of the joint positions submitted by the region’s countries and coordinated by the Commission. Joint proposals for the following are current being prepared and/or approved:

  1. The ITU’s World Radio-communications Conference (May–June 2000). The joint proposals currently number more than 120, and the preparatory work is still underway.
  2. The ITU’s World Telecommunications Standardization Assembly (September–October 2000).

CITEL is also carrying out the following tasks with other international organizations:

Other Ongoing Efforts:

CITEL has begun and is continuing work on recommendations and resolutions so the member countries can fully enter into the following areas with world-class technologies and services:

  1. The promotion of global information infrastructure in the Americas by evaluating electronic commerce, developing regulatory guidelines to improve network interconnectivity, and identifying and drafting proposals related to new telecommunications applications, services, and technologies.
  2. Tele-medicine for all sectors of society, particularly those that are isolated and in the greatest need.
  3. Internet Protocol (IP) telecommunications, chiefly voice and data transmissions.

The Commission continues to organize telecommunications forums, with seminars on important current issues for telecommunications in the region that feature leading international specialists:

  1. The Third CITEL/CCP.I Telecommunications Forum, "Convergence in the Services, Infrastructure, and Regulatory Framework of IP-Based Networks: A New Vision of Telecommunications in the Americas," is planned for February 14-16, 2000.
  2. Approval was given for a Broadcasting Policy Forum, involving the public and private sectors, to gather together all the necessary information and knowledge on the subject. This event is scheduled for August 2000.

FOSTERING THE DEVELOPMENT OF MICRO, SMALL AND MEDIUM SIZE ENTERPRISES

The OAS has two programs in the area of small and medium sized enterprises, the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT) and the Inter-American Program for Environment Technology Cooperation in Key Industry Sectors.

The aims of the Young Americas Business Trust, run by the Unit for Social Development and Education, are to promote entrepreneurial development of young people in the Americas and the Caribbean, drawing on the private sector for technical and financial partnerships and establishing closer working relationships with other non-governmental organizations working in the field of micro, small, and medium size enterprises.

As a major activity in follow-up to the Summit process, the Young Americas Business Trust (YABT), now a specialized private sector initiative within the OAS framework, is developing a variety of creative approaches and partnerships with the private sector, both non-governmental organizations and companies doing business in the region.

The YABT priorities focus on three primary areas:

  1. Creating political and regulatory environments that are conducive to business growth by highlighting the importance of young entrepreneurs as a public policy priority.
  2. Increasing the level of training and follow-up resources available to young entrepreneurs.
  3. Using new technologies such as the Internet to distribute "how to" information and curricula through international business and technical cooperation networks.

From discussions with both governmental and private sector leaders over the past two years, the following programs have been developed as the central thrust of activities for the Young Americas Business Trust:

  1. Strategic Assistance to Member States in identifying and expanding successful programs for young entrepreneurs by targeting resources where they can be most effective. OAS experience over the past decade has taught the value of an integrated approach to youth enterprise training and development. The approach is more strategic than project oriented, meaning that the Organization aims to identify existing resources, find gaps, and link programs together in a more systematic process. The methodology includes a range of training and programming that involve personal development skills, technical and business training, and access to resources, namely, technology and finance.
  2. An Internet site, http://www.ybiz.net/ an "Internetwork" for young entrepreneurs and for organizations that work with them. A first step in this process is the development of a Directory of Resources for Micro, Small, and Medium Sized Businesses in the Americas and the Caribbean, comprising over 500 organizations in training, marketing, and finance. This is geared to helping business startups gain access to information and other resources that will help their business succeed and to linking organizations into a technical and information network to share experiences and expertise in the field.
  3. Business Leaders Summits, a series of high-level dialogues and "mini-summits" with key business leaders covering both the theme of youth entrepreneurial development and corporate social responsibility. The first of these meetings was held in New York on October 14, 1999.
  4. Business Partnerships, collaboration with countries doing business in the region to mobilize support for young entrepreneur programs at the national level. The enables companies to directly support initiatives in countries where they have operations and for national organizations to benefit from contributed materials, staff support, and financial assistance. In this context, the YABT contributes as a catalyst to bring these donors and programs together in support of national development objectives. A key element of this program also involves recognition awards to businesses that make special or creative contributions to furthering young entrepreneur development.
  5. Young Entrepreneur Technology Centers, draws on the OAS experience in developing small business resource centers and extends this practical approach by integrating technology into training and networking. This incorporates OAS technical cooperation projects such as business labs in the secondary schools, community resource centers, and leads to youth business trusts that provide financing for small loans.
  6. El Mil Milenario – 1,000 for the Millennium, to be launched at the 2000 OAS General Assembly, the program will identify and recognize 1,000 of the Hemisphere’s top young entrepreneurs under age 35. Selection criteria will give priority to the number of jobs created and each country will receive a pro-rated number of winners in order to balance the program across all the OAS Member States. Near the end of 2000, an exciting networking conference of the winners will be staged and the program will conclude with a recognition ceremony in conjunction with the Third Summit of the Americas.

The Inter-American Program for Environment Technology Cooperation in Key Industry Sectors is a joint OAS - International Development Research Center (IDRC) of the Government of Canada - World Association of Industrial and Technological Research Organizations (WAITRO) initiative which responds to the challenges faced by small and medium size enterprises in Latin America and Caribbean countries to adopt cost-effective, environmentally sound technologies and management practices.

The purpose of the program is to better equip industry associations to deal with the environment management concerns of their membership, and bring them together with organizations which can assist them with follow up initiatives, thus creating a support network in the hemisphere.

General Objectives include:

PROPERTY REGISTRATION

At the Santiago Summit, the governments of the Hemisphere entrusted the United States of America, along with El Salvador, with the responsibility for implementing the Property Registration mandate. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is the lead agency within the U.S. government with responsibility for implementing mandate.

USAID has launched the Inter-Summit Property Systems Initiative (IPSI) as the mechanism through which to implement the property registration mandate. The Initiative will contribute to the alleviation of poverty in the region by improving access to income-earning market opportunities through more rapid, lower cost solutions to the long-standing problems of defining and documenting property rights.

The OAS' Office of Summit Follow-Up, through the Summit of the Americas Information Network, is developing a "virtual office" for the Responsible Coordinator's Property Systems Initiative. This Internet-based office will be the focal point for information on the IPSI as well as on additional initiatives being undertaken by other governments and civil society organizations in the property registration field.

The virtual office will help Property Registration professional communicate and exchange experiences and techniques. It will serve as a vehicle for civil society participation in property registration projects and provide a central repository of information for use by government policymakers, professionals, students and civil society organizations interested in property registration in the Americas.

WOMEN

The Inter-American Commission of Women (CIM) is energetically pursuing the implementation of the "Women" mandate of the Second Summit of the Americas. This report focuses on recent work in the areas of women's education and human rights and on the institutional strengthening of the CIM.

In the Area of Education:

The Executive Committee of CIM approved an education project with a gender focus, entitled "The Educational Status of Women in the Americas". Based on assessments conducted, four fundamental lines of action were proposed to improve education for women in the Hemisphere:

  1. Eliminate the deficiencies in the training of women, particularly young women, in order to enable them to enter the job market;
  2. Eliminate the weaknesses in the formal education of female adults and elderly persons;
  3. Improve the access of women in rural areas of poor countries to formal and non-formal education
  4. Eliminate the perpetuation of sexual stereotypes, as part of the effort to improve the quality of education.

In order to accomplish these, CIM produced and designed material for a hemispheric campaign of awareness-building and sensitization. The material includes a book that discusses the educational status of women in the Americas and proposals for lines of action; a representative poster to be used during the campaign; a recording of micro-programs in order to conduct a radio campaign; and a guide with pointers for implementing the project. This material was distributed by the delegates of the CIM and also sent to all the permanent missions to the OAS, specialized organizations, and national offices of the OAS for information and dissemination purposes.

In the Area of the Human Rights of Women:

The CIM continues to be a leader in the human rights field and continues to promote the implementation of the objectives of the Convention of Belém do Pará and its ratification by OAS member States. Mexico and Antigua and Barbuda ratified the Convention in November 1998, bringing the number of countries that have ratified it to 29. Since its adoption in the different member States, the number of countries that have enacted laws on domestic violence has substantially increased.

In compliance with Resolution AG/RES. 1456/97 (XXVII-0/97), the CIM submitted to the Twenty-ninth Regular Session of the OAS General Assembly the first biennial report on the follow-up of the "Convention on the Prevention, Punishment, and Eradication of Violence against Women". This report underscores the progress made by Member States on the application of the "Belém do Pará" Convention, and the experiences and results they have obtained with the application of the different initiatives and programs to fight violence against women.

The CIM also collaborated with the IACHR in the preparation of a report on the fidelity of the regulation and practices of member States in the area of women’s rights, to the inter-American human rights system. The findings of the research were presented in the "Report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights on the Status of Women in the Americas" at the OAS General Assembly in June 1999, as part of the annual report of the IACHR. The report ends with the recommendations of the Commission in regards to the elimination of discriminatory institutions that prevent the full exercise of women’s rights, an analysis of the consequences of this discrimination, and the development of initiatives to fulfill these recommendations within the regional system.

The Commission is also participating in the campaign on violence against women promoted by the United Nations, along with UNIFEM, UNDP, UNFPA, UNICEF and PAHO. Some meetings have already taken place to initiate formalization of the inter-agency collaboration. The objective is both to establish a forum for coordination and information on this issue, and also to build awareness in society of violence against women.

CIM is also participating as a co-sponsor and member of the Inter-American Development Bank’s Council on the Program for the Support of Women's Leadership and Representation (PROLEAD). Through this program, more than US$4 million will be provided to finance women’s leadership projects in the hemisphere. In 1998, the first request for proposal was issued, and more than 300 requests for funding were received. In November 1998, the Council selected 40 proposals, which received financing during the first cycle of activities. The Executive Committee of the CIM approved the allocation of US$30,000 of the 1998 regular budget of the CIM as an initial contribution to the program.

At its most recent regular session held in Guatemala in 1999, the OAS General Assembly approved resolution AG/RES. 1627(XXIX-0/99): "Appointment of women to senior management positions at the OAS", which urges the Secretary General to establish as an objective that, by the year 2005, women should occupy 50% of all positions in all categories of the OAS system, particularly at the P-4 grade-level and above. It also urges the Secretary General to try to ensure that gender equality is given priority in efforts to introduce a new culture of management at the Organization.

Institutional Strengthening of CIM:

CIM has undertaken work in the area of the promotion and institutional strengthening of the Organization. This will enable it to better respond to today’s challenges, provide it with more visibility within the Inter-American system and in the member States, and will also facilitate development of cooperative inter-sectoral relationships.

As part of the institutional strengthening of the CIM, we will be convening meetings of women ministers and other senior level individuals dealing with gender policy in the countries. CIM will also be presenting a Draft Inter-American Program on Women’s Rights and Gender Equity.

INDIGENOUS POPULATIONS

The General Assembly in Guatemala City adopted a resolution to create a working group to study the proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Populations; this group was to include representatives of indigenous communities in its work, allowing their comments and suggestions to be heard. The working group’s first meeting was held on November 8-12, 1999.

The proposed American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Populations aims at establishing a declaration to be applied to indigenous populations and to peoples whose social, cultural, and economic conditions set them apart from the rest of national communities and whose legal situation is governed, either wholly or in part, by their own customs and traditions or by special laws and regulations.

Following five days of intense deliberation, the Working Group on the Proposed Declaration concluded its first meeting November 12, 1999. Representatives of the organizations of the inter-American System, of member States, and of indigenous communities from all parts of the Hemisphere participated in the sessions which were presided by the Chair of the Committee on Juridical and Political Affairs. The Working Group concluded a first reading of the Proposed Declaration and registered a number of observations made by the participants. In accordance with procedures previously agreed upon by the member States, representatives of the indigenous communities commented on the various articles of the Proposed Declaration. Their interventions were recorded in the report of the Chair of the Working Group.

SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

The second meeting of the Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development (CIDS) took place on October 13-15, 1999. The Committee studied the report presented by the OAS Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment on the implementation of the different initiatives of the 1996 Bolivian Summit. The report describes the progress made with the mandates given to the OAS and contains projections for the future. The concerns of the smaller Caribbean States regarding sustainable development and the problem of climate change were analyzed, and a discussion took place regarding follow-up actions in connection with the Santa Cruz Plan of Action and the Inter-American Program of Sustainable Development. In this regard, the governments at the meeting studied the possibility of convening a ministerial conference in Bolivia in late 2001 in order to discuss progress five years after the Santa Cruz Plan of Action and to design a strategy for the future.

During the Committee’s meeting, member States adopted seven resolutions, which are summarized below:

1. Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network: This resolution recognizes the importance of creating an Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN). With broad participation by institutions and experts from the member States, this network will develop a program that will reflect the participants’ national, regional, and sub-regional priorities and emphasize the development of the technological mechanisms needed to facilitate the exchange of information among the participants.

2. Inter-American Water Resources Network: This resolution encourages the Inter-American Water Resources Network to continue promoting exchanges of information and technology throughout the Hemisphere and to continue its cooperation activities with other national and international organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, thus promoting the sustainable management of water resources and coastal areas.

3. Hemispheric Network of Officials and Experts in Environmental Law and in their Application and Enforcement: This resolution supports the creation of a hemispheric network of environmental law officials and experts, together with the designation of national focal points.

4. Reducing Vulnerability to Natural Dangers in the Americas: This resolution recommends that the General Secretariat increase its efforts and uses its experience, particularly in supporting the development of policies and strategic actions, including preventive measures such as cooperation in human resource training, equipment modernization, and information dissemination, and invite external contributions from the public and private sectors in order to support member States in their efforts to reduce natural disasters.

5. Inter-American Strategy for Public Participation in Decision-Making for Sustainable Development: This resolution establishes a CIDS working group, comprising the ISP’s national focal points and/or permanent missions to the OAS that want to participate, and asks the Unit for Sustainable Development and Environment (USDE) for support in finalizing the ISP. It also recommends holding a meeting of the working group at OAS headquarters, before November 16, to finalize the ISP’s draft documents.

6. Climate Change: This resolution recommends that USDE support the member States in creating a regional climate change center for the Caribbean.

7. Ministerial Meeting: A high-level or ministerial meeting to promote sustainable development in the hemisphere should be held before the end of the year 2001; the Government of Bolivia has offered to host such an event. The resolution also recommends that the Inter-American Committee on Sustainable Development (CIDS) meet in the year 2000 to serve as a preparatory commission for the high-level or ministerial meeting and to study issues of common concern in the Hemisphere and a long-term work program for the period starting in 2002.

COOPERATION

At the Fourth Regular Meeting of CIDI and the succeeding XXIX General Assembly in Guatemala in June 1999, resolutions were approved with the aim of strengthening the inter-American mechanisms for sectoral policy dialogue, specifically through the strengthening of Inter-American Committees under CIDI. The roles and functions, as well as standardized rules of procedure for such Committees were established, and budgetary resources for their meetings were approved. Inter-American Programs in the areas of education and science and technology were approved. Three meetings of Inter-American Committees have been held, all in the month of October 1999: the First Inter-American Committee Meeting on Ports in Guatemala, the Second Inter-American Committee Meeting on Sustainable Development in Washington, and the Second Inter-American Committee Meeting on Science and Technology in Acapulco, Mexico.

As a result of these meetings, Ministerial level gatherings will be convened in the area of sustainable development in Bolivia before the end of 2001, and in science and technology also in 2001. In the meantime, the Second Meeting of Ministers of Labor has been convened for the Dominican Republic in January 2000 in accordance with the conclusions of the previous Ministerial meeting in 1998. The First Meeting of Ministers of Tourism under the auspices of CIDI that had been scheduled for December 1999, including the participation of the private sector has had to be postponed for the time being. At this time, further inter-American meetings in 2000 in the areas of education and social development remain pending.

A major initiative in support of the Santiago Plan of Action mandate to the OAS and other multilateral organizations on cooperation projects and programs has been the creation of the new Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development. The Agency was established at a Special OAS General Assembly held November 15, 1999. This new OAS Agency, coming under CIDI, will begin operations on January 1, 2000. The Executive Secretariat will remain part of the OAS General Secretariat and is expected to provide a more integrated approach to cooperation and development within the inter-American system as a whole. The Agency is specifically designed to complement, at the operational level, the Organization’s role in policy dialogue and the convocation of high-level meetings on hemispheric development issues. In addition to its principal emphasis on the planning and implementing of cooperation projects, it will give very high priority to promoting institutional strengthening in the Member States, human resource development through training and fellowships, and mobilization of additional human and financial resources for inter-American cooperation.

[SIRG/1999/XVII/tracker.htm][SIRG/1999/XVII/tracker.htm]