Statement to the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG), Mr. Marc Lortie, Personal Representative of the Prime Minister of Canada for the Summit of the Americas
XVIII SIRG, April 7, 2000, Washington, D.C.
Your Excellency Secretary General Gaviria, Permanent Representatives, Ambassador Peter Romero, Acting Assistant Secretary of State, National Coordinators, Representatives of Regional Organizations and International Financial Institutions, Representatives of accredited missions, government representatives:
It is a pleasure for me to be here today, to join the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) on the occasion of its 18th meeting. I look forward to Chairing this and subsequent meetings of this Group, alongside Chile and the United States as members of the SIRG Troika, and in close collaboration with the full membership of the SIRG.
Though I am a newcomer myself to this group, I am pleased to welcome formally as a member of the Troika, Ambassador Luis Lauredo, also the Permanent Representative of the United States to the OAS. As Executive Director of the Summit of the Americas in 1994, Ambassador Lauredo brings with him a wealth of experience which I am sure will facilitate our collective work over the next year. I am pleased that Ambassador Peter Romero, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs is also with us today. As the senior member of the Troika, we can continue to count on the experience and support of Ambassador Carlos Portales, Chilean National Coordinator and Permanent Representative to the OAS. I would like to extend my personal appreciation to the Government of Chile, for making possible the visit of Ambassador Juan Martabit, General Coordinator for the 1998 Santiago Summit of the Americas, for consultations with my office. We were able to spend an extremely productive day with Ambassador Martabit reviewing logistical and policy planning for the Santiago Summit. His open and thorough review of preparations will help us build on the experience gained by Chile in hosting the event in 1998. The success of both the Miami and Santiago Summits set a high standard for the next Summit.
I would like to extend thanks to Secretary General Gaviria for his leadership of the OAS in providing continued strong support to the Summit of the Americas process. This is reflected by the excellent support to the SIRG process of the OAS Office of Summit Follow Up. I would highlight the valuable role that the Office’s website plays in making available useful information on Summit-related meetings and developments. The OAS Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management also continues to do important work in this regard. Open meetings of the Special Committee have allowed representatives of countries to exchange views on the items coming before the SIRG process with officials from international organizations, experts from other institutions, and representatives of civil society.
With the review of the remaining five mandates of the 1998 Santiago Summit of the Americas, we are entering a new phase of the Summit process. A full year away from the next Summit of the Americas, however, there remains time and opportunity to further advance the mandates laid out in Santiago and Miami. Over the course of the next year, as we work together to draft the Declaration and Plan of Action for the 2001 Summit of the Americas, we must also be vigilant in continuing our efforts to fulfill the commitments made by leaders in Santiago and Miami. They will continue to serve as important reference points for future Summits. As we move towards Quebec City, our citizens will not only wish to know what new directions leaders will take, but they will also continue to look for proof of progress on previous commitments.
The final Santiago initiatives for our review today are: Democracy and Human Rights, Financial Markets, Migrant Workers, Property Registration, and Indigenous Populations. As Responsible Coordinator reports will reflect today, there has been important progress in the implementation of these five initiatives. I look forward to our discussion on these initiatives and to sharing views on challenges and opportunities which have emerged as we have acted to implement them.
Since the 17th SIRG, there have been a number of Ministerial meetings which have served to advance the Santiago agenda, including some initiatives under discussion today. On February 3, Finance Ministers met in Mexico at the Third Western Hemisphere Finance Ministers meeting. At that time, Ministers reviewed progress on initiatives set forth at the Santiago Summit. Ministers also agreed on a series of initiatives to address money laundering, corruption and tax evasion, and to improve corporate governance. Canada will be pleased to welcome Hemispheric Finance Ministers at their Fourth meeting in Toronto, Canada, in early 2001.
Also in February, Labour Ministers met in Washington to follow up on the decisions adopted in the Declaration and Plan of Action of the XI Conference of Labour Ministers of the Americas. Good discussion was held on the issues of globalization and the social dimension of trade liberalization as well as modernization of labour ministries, further to the 1998 Summit mandate. The next conference of Labour ministers of the Americas will be held in Canada in 2001.
From March 1-3, Justice Ministers met at the Third Meeting of Ministers of Justice or of Ministers or Attorneys General of the Americas in Costa Rica. Ministers focussed their discussions on the five areas of cybercrime, extradition and mutual legal assistance, prison and penitentiary health policy, alternative dispute resolution and the Justice Studies Centre for the Americas. Santiago was endorsed by Ministers as the site of the Justice Studies Centre for the Americas.
These Ministerial level dialogues are representative of the high priority that our nations have placed on dialogue at the most senior levels within the hemisphere. I think it is important to note that discussions were forward looking, taking into consideration the importance of preparations for the next Summit of the Americas.
Looking ahead, a Meeting of Ministers and Highest Ranking Officials Responsible for the Advancement of Women will take place in Washington later this month. This is the first meeting of this group of Ministers and officials, and I am sure that they will provide constructive guidance on effectively addressing issues of gender equality and women’s human rights in the hemisphere.
From June 4-6, the XXX OAS General Assembly will be held in Windsor Canada. As has become tradition, on the afternoon of June 4, a Private Dialogue Session among Foreign Ministers will be held. This year’s session will be dedicated to the discussion of key themes for the next Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. As a reflection of the increasingly supportive and engaged roles of their institutions in the Summit of the Americas process, the heads of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the World Bank (WB) and the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) have been invited to participate with foreign ministers and OAS Secretary General Gaviria in this Private Dialogue. Expanding on the cooperative relationship that these organizations already share with the Summit process in developing and implementing priorities is key to the development of a truly integrated and coherent inter-American system.
In speaking of the importance of a collaborative relationships, I also draw representatives’ attention to the very productive meeting in Washington of parliamentarians from all parts of the Americas last week. This is an important initiative in our collective work to consolidate democratic institutions and enhance engagement by national legislators with the hemispheric agenda. The linkages that an Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas will foster in this hemisphere will facilitate the sharing of information, experiences and best practices among the legislative levels of our national governments. Canada is pleased to have been chosen to host the inaugural meeting of this Forum in February, 2001.
As we engage in a discussion of the five Santiago initiatives under review, I invite representatives to keep in mind our third plenary session this afternoon which addresses preparations for the next Summit. We have an intensive schedule before us. As we move into the negotiations stage for the next Summit of the Americas, our challenge will be to produce a coherent Declaration and Action Plan for our leaders, which responds to the collective challenges faced by our hemisphere in a new millennium. It will be our task to address, in tangible, results-oriented ways, the social, economic and political challenges confronted by the peoples of the Americas. At the core of our considerations will be the need to advance hemispheric integration to the benefit of our citizenry.
I know that we will keep these challenges in mind as we move through our agenda today, in our review of initiatives over the three plenary discussions, as well as in less formal discussion over lunch.[SIRG/2000/XVIII/tracker.htm][SIRG/2000/XVIII/tracker.htm]