Ninth Conference of Spouses of Heads of State and Government of the Americas

 

The Summit of the Americas

Miami — Santiago — Quebec City

In December 1994, the leaders of the hemisphere’s 34 democratically elected governments met in Miami at the first Summit of the Americas. The leaders believed that strong hemispheric partnerships would encourage the advancement of mutual interests, including peace, democracy, economic integration and social justice. Their aim was to channel the momentum created by the convergence of political and economic values in the region into a concrete Plan of Action.

They released a Declaration of Principles, which focussed on four major themes: preserving and strengthening the community of democracies of the Americas; promoting prosperity through economic integration and free trade; eradicating poverty and discrimination in our hemisphere; and guaranteeing sustainable development and conserving our natural environment for future generations. The Summit’s resulting Plan of Action contained 23 initiatives covering the four theme areas.

After Miami, the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) was created to monitor and manage follow-up and implementation on Summit action items. Implementation of the 23 initiatives contained in the Plan of Action was co-ordinated by either a specific country or by a regional organization. Planning and preparation for the next Summit in Santiago, Chile was done by the SIRG, co-chaired by the United States and Chile.

The agenda for the second Summit of the Americas in Santiago was considered by Foreign Ministers at the OAS General Assembly in Lima, Peru on June 1, 1997. It included the following themes: education: the key to progress; preserving and strengthening democracy, justice and human rights; economic integration and free trade; and eradication of poverty and discrimination. Sustainable development, a 1994 Summit item, was addressed at the Summit on Sustainable Development, held in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, in December1996.

In preparing for Santiago, Canada identified a number of priorities, and carefully considered the views expressed by Canadians during civil society consultations, which took place in six Canadian cities in October 1997. The human rights and democracy theme continued to be a priority for Canada, and in the Summit process, our country presented specific proposals to improve key aspects of the administration of justice in the Americas. Canada also placed indigenous issues on the agenda of the Summit as a separate item, and placed importance on ensuring that women and people with disabilities be given particular attention.

On April 18 to 19, 1998, the leaders of the 34 Americas countries, which had participated in Miami, met for a second time at the Summit of the Americas in Santiago, Chile to continue the dialogue and strengthen the co-operation that began in 1994. At the conclusion of the Summit, Canada was chosen to host the next Summit of the Americas in 2001. This decision reflects Canada’s expanding role in the hemisphere.

In accepting Canada’s role of host of the next Summit of the Americas, which will be held in Quebec City in 2001, Prime Minister Chrétien stated: "This announcement is the culmination of years of hard work in the region on trade liberalization and social issues. Our leadership of the next Summit recognizes our strong role in the evolving community of the Americas and in the dawning of a new global century of shared progress and values."

Canada participated actively in all areas of discussion at the Santiago Summit. In particular, Prime Minister Chrétien proposed the establishment of a Foreign Ministers Dialogue Group on Drugs. The search for long-term solutions to the problem of illegal drugs in the hemisphere also included the establishment of an Intergovernmental Working Group to develop a Multilateral Evaluation Mechanism. Canada was chosen as Chair of this Working Group. The creation of a new system based on a balanced and multilateral approach is seen as a bold and much-needed initiative by many countries of the Americas.

Also in Santiago, Canada’s leadership role in trade liberalization was recognized when it was announced that Canada would chair negotiations for the Free Trade Area of the Americas (FTAA) for the first 18 months, and host the fifth meeting of the hemisphere’s trade ministers in November 1999. Canada believes that the creation of an FTAA is important to the economic prosperity of the hemisphere, and in turn, to the consolidation of democracy in the Americas. Canada is committed to making concrete progress on the FTAA by the end of the century.

The Summit of the Americas is a work in progress. Since its beginning in 1994, Canada has been active in putting Summit proposals into action at home, and in monitoring action in the hemisphere through the SIRG. Both functions are critical to ensure that the Summits are successful in advancing the issues and Plans of Action endorsed by the leaders of the Americas. Canada supports efforts to move more Summit follow-up into existing organizations in the inter-American system such as the Organization of American States (OAS), the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the United Nations Economic Commission on Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO).

In the coming year, Canada, now co-Chair of the SIRG, will work with its partners throughout the Americas to define the themes of the 2001 Canadian-hosted Summit. Canada will also listen to the concerns of its civil society in relation to the key issues to be proposed for inclusion in the Summit agenda.

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