Summary of the Proceedings of the XIX SIRG

(Remarks by Canada at the Regular Session of the Permanent Council of the Organization of American States, October 11, 2000)

On October 1-3, 2000, Canada hosted a meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) in Québec City. This meeting launched the process of negotiation leading up to the April 2001 Summit of the Americas to be held in Québec, which will bring together the heads of state and of government of the hemisphere. They will discuss the goals of strengthening democracy, creating prosperity, and realising human potential across the Americas.

Delegates at the SIRG emphasised the importance of ensuring that the Summit process is a continuous one in which each new Summit builds upon the success of the last. Nations also expressed their commitment to the strengthening of the inter-American system. Through intensive cooperation and coordination, inter-American programs and institutions can be made to serve the populations of our countries even better. All countries made a valuable contribution to the discussion, and the meeting also welcomed the input of inter-American bodies such as the Organization of American States, the Inter-American Development Bank, the UN’s Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Pan-American Health Organization.

The focus of the SIRG meeting in Québec City was the first pillar of the upcoming summit, Strengthening Democracy. National representatives discussed numerous themes in the improvement of democratic conditions. Countries agreed that in advancing the cause of democracy, it is important to recognise the strong link between democracy and development. Democracy can better take hold in a climate of financial stability than amid financial crisis and devastating poverty. The rule of law is also crucial to the development and maintenance of democracy. National delegations discussed ways of achieving strong, fair and impartial justice systems and protecting the security of the individual. In addition, there must be transparency and accountability in government institutions, and in the electoral process, for democracy to flourish. All delegations agreed on these broad points. Countries will continue to work to find consensus on the sensitive issues of freedom of expression and of the media, especially as they relate to electoral periods.

Government representatives also affirmed that citizens are better able to contribute to their community’s political life when they are informed about the issues that affect them and about their rights. Discussions on these important issues will continue at the next SIRG in together with a dialogue on the third pillar of the Summit, Realising Human Potential. Included in this pillar are the important issues of education, health, gender equality, indigenous populations, cultural diversity, and children and youth. Civil Society Organizations will be invited to express their views and submit their suggestions on these questions at the meeting of the Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management (CEGCI) on November 7. This open meeting of CEGCI will precede the next SIRG to be hosted by the Inter-American Development Bank in Washington, DC, on November 28-30, 2000.