Unfortunately, the 1967 vision for hemispheric free trade south of the
United States was not achieved, and the development plan was never fully implemented.
Twenty seven years later, in Miami, auspicious historic conditions
existed for the Governments of the Americas to once again meet. The end of the Cold
War brought forth a new era of consensus and understanding at a time when important
problems, now less ideological and more concrete, continued to confront the peoples of the
The Modern Summit Process
Reorganizing Inter-American relations, by adapting debates and
procedures to the new political, economic and social conditions of the world and the
region, was one of the fundamental objectives of the modern hemispheric Summit process
initiated in Miami in 1994.
The existence of new players and a common
understanding on political and economic principles based on the tenets of democracy and
market economy made possible unprecedented political cooperation and economic integration
in the Hemisphere, from Canada to Argentina and Chile.
The Heads of State and Government of the Americas, the architects of
this new system, decided to meet on a regular basis in order to define the fundamental
precepts of the new Hemispheric agenda. This decision to institutionalize the meetings led
to the notion of a "Summit process", where experiences are accumulated, a common
language is forged and mandates for collective action are programmed, systematizing the
new theoretical and practical references in hemispheric relations. This
institutionalization had been lacking during the Cold War Summits which were organized on
an ad hoc basis.
The new era in hemispheric relations is characterized by the
revitalization of multilateralism which acts as a catalyst for the modernization of the
various institutions of the Inter-American system, including the principal political
forum, the Organization of American States.
Preparatory Stage of the Summit of the Americas (1994):
In January of 1994, President Clinton proposed
to organize a Presidential Summit in the United States, in order to discuss
the following matters:
- Democratic principles and values; strengthening of institutions.
- Common strategies in the consolidation of democracy, expansion of commerce and increased
- Mechanisms that enssure the benefits of democracy and economic reform.
- New relationships to overcome obstacles to development.
- Integration and reinforcement of existing hemispheric
In March of the same year, US Vice-President Al
Gore, on a visit to Mexico, announced President Clinton’s desire to host
a Summit in Miami in December of 1994. The following issues were
placed on the table for discussion at Miami:
- Consolidation of democracy, efficient procedures and related matters such as the fight
against drug trafficking.
- Growth and prosperity - growth of trade, mutual benefits, better labor conditions and
protection of the environment.
- Social matters: poverty, health, education, and the creation of jobs.
During the first semester of 1994, the United States undertook
bilateral consultations in order to develop a Declaration and a Plan of Action for the
Summit. During the following months, inter-governmental meetings were held and many
international organizations contributed documents and suggestions that were considered by
the organizers and participants of the Summit. In the case of the OAS, the Permanent
Council, jointly with the Secretary General, prepared a paper outlining possible
contributions of the OAS to the Summit of the Americas.
While inter-governmental consultations in
preparation for the Summit continued, the Rio Group met in October of
1994. The Group's members agreed to present a multilateral proposal,
achieved by consensus, for the Miami Plan of Action. This led
the coordinators of the 34 OAS member States to meet, in late November at
Airlie House, Virginia, in order to agree upon the final documents.
It is important to highlight the significance of this meeting as it was
the first time in the Summit preparations that representatives of the 34
countries sat at the same table in order to discuss and negotiate, under
equal conditions, the commitments of the Plan of Action that would be
approved by all the participant Summit countries.
Florida: First Summit of the Americas
The First Summit of the Americas took place in Miami, December 9 to 11,
1994. The meeting produced a Declaration of Principles and a Plan of Action signed
by all 34 Heads of State and Government in attendance. It is important to note that
it was the first Summit were all of the leaders were democratically elected, and the first
Summit to include Canada, and the island States of the Caribbean.
Negotiations of the FTAA
One of the most important initiatives to emerge from the Miami
Summit was the agreement to work towards creating a Free Trade Area of the Americas
(FTAA). The FTAA would provide free market access for goods and
services to the entire continent. It was decided that negotiations for an FTAA
should conclude no later than 2005. In order to realize this ambitious
trade agreement, a Tripartite Committee, composed of the Inter-American Development
Bank (IDB), the
Organization of American States (OAS), and the United Nations' Economic Commission for Latin
America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), was created to provide technical support for the negotiation process.
Cruz, Bolivia: Summit of the Americas on Sustainable Development
Another important initiative from the Miami Summit was the
inclusion of a proposal from the President of Bolivia, Gonzálo Sánchez de Lozada, to
call a specialized Summit on Sustainable Development to be held in Santa Cruz de la
Sierra, Bolivia in 1996. The objectives of the specialized Summit were to establish a
common vision for the future according to the concepts of sustainable development and to
ratify the principles subscribed to at the 1992 Earth Summit held in Rio de Janeiro,
The long and complex multilateral negotiations included input from an
important contingent of civil society organizations. These, under the leadership of
a Technical Committee, produced a proposal for sustainable development which was presented
to the OAS member States for consideration and discussion. The proposal was the
fruit of a series of broad national and subregional consultations. It is important
to highlight both the participation of the OAS and Civil Society in the preparatory work
for the Bolivian Summit. The OAS Working Group in charge of preparing the documents for
the Summit, held, for the first time in the Organization, a working session where civil
society organizations were invited to participate in the Summit's preparatory process.
The negotiations over the eventual Declaration and
Plan of Action of
Santa Cruz were complex due to the very different positions held concerning the concept of
Sustainable Development. On one hand, some countries insisted on the importance of
the environment as an independent issue. Other countries suggested incorporating the
environmental dimension within a vision for integral development. Reconciliation of
these two points of view through consensus produced the Declaration and the Plan of Action
of Santa Cruz on December 7 and 8, 1996. The Plan of Action included initiatives in
the following areas: Health and
Education; Sustainable Agriculture and
Sustainable Cities and Communities; Water Resources and Coastal
Areas; and Energy and
The general consensus on the concept of including economic, social and
environmental elements within an understanding of sustainable development was perhaps the
most important achievement of the Bolivian Summit. Consensus was also reached on
other issues such as a financial resources, technology transfers, division of
responsibilities, cooperation and Biodiversity among others.
Chile: Second Summit of the Americas
Unlike the First (Miami) Summit of the Americas, which was convoked
by President Clinton to engage with the countries of Latin America on the many issues of
the Hemisphere, the decision to hold a Second Summit was jointly made by
all the Heads of State and Government of the Americas. The Santiago Summit
of the Americas was jointly prepared,
discussed and approved by all the countries. It is important to emphasize the active
participation of sub-regional organizations such as that of the Caribbean
Community (CARICOM) and the Rio
The negotiations for a Declaration and a Plan of Action were carried
out in the Summit Implementation Review Group
(SIRG) meetings with the support of the OAS, the IDB, the PAHO and ECLAC. Emphasis was given to social policies and essential matters of the
Inter-American agenda, such as how to consolidate and improve the quality of democracy,
respect for human rights and the path to a Free Trade Area of the Americas, were also
discussed. The result of these deliberations produced a Declaration
and Plan of Action of Santiago which contained 27 initiatives, each reflecting the common concerns of the different
countries. The initiatives were grouped into the following subjects:
- Education, the principal issue of the Summit;
- Preserving and Strengthening Democracy, Justice and Human Rights;
- Economic Integration and Free Trade;
- Eradication of Poverty and discrimination.
One of the initiatives in the Summit of the Americas
Follow-Up section of the Plan of Action assigned the OAS responsibility to keep the
"institutional memory of the [Summit] process" and for providing technical
support to the SIRG.
City, Canada: Third Summit of the Americas
In 2000, with the implementation process still
underway, the countries of the hemisphere began the preparations for the
Third Summit of the Americas, held in Quebec City, Canada, April 20-22,
eighteen themes for the Summit were:
Making Democracy Work Better
Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms
Justice, Rule of Law and Security of
Trade, Investment and Financial
Infrastructure and Regulatory
Environmental Foundation for
Agriculture Management and Rural
Labor and Employment
Growth with Equity
Children and Youth
With a fully
institutionalized process in place, the "troika" and the SIRG set about negotiating the draft texts of the
and Plan of
Action,based on these themes, which were adopted by the Heads of State and Government.
These texts represent an agenda
for the Americas for the next four years. The "troika" was
established to provide leadership to the SIRG, and consisted of past
and present hosts, the United States, Chile and Canada.
The Quebec City Summit was notable both for its
demonstration of the successes of the process to date as well as for its new
challenges to the countries of the Americas to continue moving forward.
The most important issue from the political Declaration was the
preparation of an Inter-American Democratic Charter to reinforce the OAS
instruments for the active defense of representative democracy. The Charter
was adopted on September 11, 2001, in Lima, Peru, in a Special General
Assembly of the OAS. On the
institutional side, the "troika" system was abandoned and replaced with
a Steering Committee. The
Steering Committee consists of past and future host countries for the Summit
process, the United States, Canada,
Argentina, and Chile. The
Executive Council is comprised of Canada, Chile, the United States, Argentina,
Mexico, Brazil, one representative from Central America, one representative
from CARICOM, one representative from the Rio Group, and one representative
from the Andean Community.
Special Summit of the Americas
The Special Summit of the Americas took place in Monterrey,
Mexico on January 12 - 13, 2004. The Heads of State and Government in the
Western Hemisphere gathered in a spirit of unity and cooperation to discuss
issues of common concern to the peoples of the Americas and to further
develop a shared agenda for the region. The idea to hold this Special
Summit, grew out of an initiative of former Canadian Prime Minister, Jean
Chrétien. Since the Quebec City Summit of 2001, one-third of the countries
in the Americas gained new leadership, poverty was on the rise, with 44% of
the population in Latin America, and the Caribbean living in poverty and
economic growth was staggering. The Heads of State and Government met in
Monterrey to advance the implementation of measures to combat poverty, to
promote social development, to achieve economic growth with equity, and to
strengthen governance in our democracies.
Nuevo Leon Declaration which focused on three areas:
Economic Growth with equity to reduce poverty
In the area
of Economic Growth with equity to reduce
poverty, they made a commitment to
implement macroeconomic policies; to create an enabling environment
for the private sector such as reform and simplification of procedures to
create new enterprises; to triplicate credits in 2007 to support micro,
small and medium-sized enterprises coming from the Inter-American
Development Bank (IADB); and to reduce the costs of remittances,
highlighting “the important role that trade plays in promoting sustained
growth and economic development,” among others.
In the Social Development area,
the Heads of State recognized that the main challenge is the elimination of
poverty, hunger and inequality. They reiterated that a decisive factor for
human development is education and committed to taking the appropriate
measures to reduce the threat of HIV/AIDS.
In the area
of Democratic Governance, the leaders of the Americas reiterated
their commitment to guarantee full application of the Inter-American
Democratic Charter. They expressed as well their support for the Declaration
of Santiago on Democracy and Citizens Confidence, their respect for the rule
of law, the strengthening of political parties, and the defense of human
rights. They also committed to fighting corruption and terrorism, and
acknowledged the role of civil society in the design, execution and
evaluation of public policies, among others.
III. Summit of the Americas Follow-Up Mechanisms:
Implementation Review Group (SIRG) was created in March 1995, with the purpose of coordinating and implementing the
mandates of the Miami Plan of Action. Initially, the SIRG was composed of members
representing the various sub-regions of the Hemisphere, later it was
composed of representatives from all of the countries in the Hemisphere.
In order to follow up on Summit mandates, countries were designated as
Responsible Coordinators for each issue. This mechanism was used
until the Quebec City Summit, where the mandate for follow up was modified,
abandoning the system of Responsible Coordinators was abandoned and the
and its Executive Council were charged with the responsibility of
follow-up, together with the support of the OAS Office of Summit Follow
Up, which became the Secretariat of the Summit Process.
The Second Summit of the Americas laid the basis for
the institutionalization of the Summit as a process, which has
subsequently been established and consolidated in the Quebec City Summit.
The Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG):
After its creation in 1995, the United States chaired the Summit
Implementation Review Group, because it had been the host of the Miami Summit. After March of 1997, Chile
assumed the helm for hosting the Second Summit of the Americas; Canada, in turn,
became the Chair and hosted the Third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City
in 2001. Argentina will be the next Chair of the SIRG as the next host
of the Summit of the Americas.
The SIRG meets on average 3
times a year, with at least one of their meetings held at the Ministerial
level. The SIRG is comprised of
the 34 democratically elected governments of the hemisphere, which are
represented in the SIRG by their appointed National Coordinators. The SIRG
is responsible for reporting annually on the progress achieved in the
fulfillment of the Plan of Action to the Foreign Ministers. The Ministers,
then review the information on the occasion of the Regular Session of the OAS
The Executive Council of the
SIRG was created in the Quebec City Plan of Action as a regionally
representative body whose role is to assess, strengthen and support the
follow-up of Summit initiatives. The
members of the Executive Committee include Mexico, Brazil, Chile, Canada,
Argentina, the United States, a country designated on behalf of CARICOM, a
country designated on behalf
of Andean Community, a country designated on behalf of Central America, and
a country designated on behalf of the Rio Group.
For the first time on April 2, 2003 the SIRG was opened to civil
society organization, to discuss and exchange information on the
Summit of the Americas, Education, Hemispheric Security and Good
partnerships and coordination between the Summit process and its partner
institutions, the OAS, the Pan American Health Organization
Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the
Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the Economic Commission on Latin
America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), the Central American Bank for Economic
Integration (CABEI), the
Corporación Andina de Fomento (CAF), the
World Bank, the
Caribbean Development Bank (CDB), the
International Organization for Migrations (IOM), the
Organization (ILO) and the
for Connectivity in the Americas (ICA), is yet another focus of the Council.
The Permanent Steering Committee is composed of past,
current and future Summit hosts. The
Steering Committee’s role is to assist the Summit Chair in preparing for
SIRG meetings as well as the preparations for future Summits.
Committee on Inter-American
Summits Management and Civil Society Participation in OAS Activities:
The Committee on Inter-American
Summits Management and Civil Society Participation (CISC) in OAS Activities
is a parallel multilateral Summit follow-up mechanism that operates
within the political structure of the OAS. It was previously known as the Committee on
Summits Management (CEGCI), but the Committee was modified by the Permanent Council
at its meeting held on July 31, 2002. When the Permanent Council decided to merge the
Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management (CEGCI) with
the Committee on Civil Society Participation in OAS Activities, it
became the Committee on Inter-American Summits Management
and Civil Society Participation in OAS Activities (CISC), which is entrusted with the coordination of the activities assigned to the
OAS by the Summits of the Americas, as
well as with the participation of civil society organizations in OAS
activities. The new Committee celebrated its first
meeting on September 19, 2002. The Committee reports to the OAS General Assembly through the Permanent
Council. Documents of the Special Commission are available here.
The picture below illustrates the multilateral follow-up mechanisms of the
c. National Follow-up Mechanisms:
Implementation of the various Summit mandates from Miami,
Santa Cruz, Santiago and
implies work both at the international-multilateral level as well as at the national
level. As outlined above, multilateral action is reviewed both by the SIRG and the
Committee on Inter-American
Summits Management and Civil Society Participation in OAS Activities. National programs are undertaken and reviewed individually by each country;
information is provided to the SIRG.
Government ministries or departments throughout the hemisphere with
their own Internet homepages are listed here.
The Santiago Plan of Action
states that international organizations, in accordance with Summit
decisions, will have responsibilities in implementing the Summit process and
the mandates of the process, as appropriate. In addition to the OAS, there
are four principal multilateral organizations involved in implementing
specific Summit issues. The organizations in question are the
Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean
Development Bank, (IDB) the
American Health Organization
(PAHO) and the
(WB). The OAS would have the responsibility to
operate as a registration mechanism, as the "institutional memory of
the [Summit] Process and provide technical support to the SIRG".
During the Third Summit of
the Americas, these institutions (OAS, ECLAC, IDB, PAHO and WB) presented a
joint hemispheric report of activities done in fulfillment of Santiago
The role of the institutions
became more relevant after the Quebec Summit, whose Plan of Action urges the
international organisms to coordinate their work and become involved in all
stages of the Summit Process.
In response to this mandate, the international institutions
signed a Memorandum of Understanding, on June 21, 2001 with the objective of achieving
a better coordination in support of implementation and follow-up of the
Summit of the Americas mandates. This
Memorandum of Understanding established a Joint Summit Working Group. Since
World Bank, the Inter-American
Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), the
Andina de Fomento (CAF) and the Caribbean
Development Bank (CDB) and Central
American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) were invited to participate in this Joint Summit Working
Group. In 2004, the
International Organization for Migrations (IOM) and the
Organization (ILO) requested their participation in the Joint
Summit Working Group activities. In 2005, the
for Connectivity in the Americas (ICA) requested their
participation in the Joint Summit Working Group activities as well.
This Joint Summit Working
Group meets periodically to plan joint activities and exchange information
on programs, projects and activities related to the fulfillment of the
Quebec City Summit mandates. The
Secretariat for the Summit Process in the OAS chairs and coordinates
the activities of this Working
IV. The OAS in the Summit Process:
The preparation of the documents for the Miami
Summit took place outside of the OAS. The OAS Secretary General,
however, attended the Miami Summit of the Americas and spoke about the
importance of the Summit for inter-American relations and for building
confidence among the countries and institutions of the inter-American
system. The Secretary General explained his vision for the OAS,
where it would be reformed in order to adapt itself to the "new
agenda and to the priorities set" by the dignitaries in the
Summit of the Americas Declaration and Plan of Action, in order to be
able to fulfill the tasks assigned.
At the Miami Summit, the Heads of State and
Government assigned mandates to the OAS in areas where very different
positions existed among the participants. These mandates
included drugs, corruption, terrorism, hemispheric security, and
sustainable development and environment. The OAS accepted these
mandates and incorporated them into its agenda on a priority basis.
The Organization has
taken part in the implementation of 13 of the 23 initiatives agreed
upon at Miami. A detailed description of the actions of the OAS
in the implementation of the Plan of Action can be found in the "Report
of the President of the Special Committee on Inter-American Summit
Management on the actions of the OAS regarding the implementation and
support of the the mandates of the Summit of the Americas" of
Subsequently, the OAS
had an essential role in the preparation and celebration of the Summit
on Sustainable Development, which took place in Bolivia.
At the request of the Bolivian government, the main
negotiations on the Declaration and Plan of Action of the Summit on
Sustainable Development were carried out at OAS headquarters with the
support of the OAS as the Secretariat.
At the same time, the OAS was charged with important tasks in
the follow up of these mandates.
The Secretary General of the OAS presented a detailed
report on the progress made in the implementation of the Santa
Cruz Plan of Action to the Heads of State and Government meeting at
the Second Summit of the Americas.
The OAS participated
actively in the preparatory work for the Second Summit, providing
technical support and organizing meetings in different fields such as
education, science and technology, public participation, and drugs,
among others. The
Santiago Summit entrusted the OAS with the implementation of a large
part of the mandates in almost every area and, in particular,
designated the OAS as the “institutional memory of the Summit
process” and said it would lend technical support to the SIRG.
The OAS activities in fulfillment of these mandates are
detailed in the “Fifth
Report of the Special Commission on Inter-American Summits Management
to the Ministers of Foreign Relations”.
Since the Canadian
government began preparations for the Third Summit of the Americas,
the OAS has had a very active role in several areas.
The Secretary General participated in the negotiation meetings
for the Third Summit’s Declaration and Plan of Action, and OAS
experts in each thematic area assisted SIRG meetings, offering their
technical support to governments.
Moreover, the Office of Summit Follow Up was entrusted with the
management of the negotiated documents on its Web site and also
organized negotiation meetings with the Canadian government and
provided secretariat services throughout the entire preparatory
process. The Third Summit
of the Americas designated the OAS, through its Office of Summit
Follow Up, as the Secretariat of the Summit process.
At the same time, it has again entrusted the OAS with the
implementation of various mandates from many of the action areas and has
given it the responsibility of coordinating the efforts of
international institutions in this area.
This evolution of the participation of the OAS in the
Summit process demonstrates the evolution of an OAS agenda and its
conversion towards a singular inter-American agenda
Office of Summit Follow Up
As a result of the follow-up mandate of the Second Summit
of the Americas, which assigns the OAS with the role of “institutional
memory of the process” and to “provide technical support to the SIRG”,
the OAS Secretary General created, in July 1998, the Office of Summit Follow
Up (OSFU) through Executive Order No. 98-3. The Office acts as the
institutional memory and Secretariat to the Summit of the Americas process,
coordinates the support of the OAS in the implementation of Summit
mandates, supports the Chair of the Summit process as well as the SIRG, its
Executive Council and Steering Committee and Chairs the Joint Summit Working
Group, comprised of the OAS, IICA,
World Bank, CAF and
CABEI. The Office also manages the Summits of the Americas Information
Network web site, which includes a secure site for government officials and
Secretariat for the Summit Process
At the Quebec City Summit of the Americas, the Heads of
State and Government recognized the central role that the OAS performs
in support of the Summits of the Americas process, commending the
Organization for its work as the technical secretariat and the
institutional memory of the process.
To formalize this role, the OAS Secretary General signed Executive
Order No. 02-03 on May 31, 2002, which strengthens the
responsibilities of the Office of Summit Follow Up and renamed it the
Secretariat for the Summit Process (SG/SSP).
Under this new title, the Secretariat will continue to
coordinate the implementation of Summit mandates in the OAS and
provide support to: ministerial and sectoral meetings; the SIRG and
it's Executive Council and Steering Committee as well as the
Committee on Inter-American
Summits Management and Civil Society Participation in OAS Activities; and in the preparations for the next Summit of the Americas.
At the same time, it will continue to coordinate the
participation of civil society in the Summit process and in the OAS.
* The 34 Summit of the Americas nations are the same as
the 34 member States of the Organization of American States (the 35th OAS member State,
Cuba, has been suspended since 1962). The countries are: Antigua and Barbuda,
Argentina, The Bahamas, Barbados, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa
Rica, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Granada, Guatemala, Guyana,
Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Saint Kitts and
Nevis, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, Trinidad and Tobago,
United States, Uruguay, and Venezuela.
(Note: The photographs and
paragraphs on the 1959 and 1967 Summits are from "Building a Partnership for
Prosperity", the White House Report on the Summit of the Americas.)