Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management

Chair's Summary of Suggestions and Recommendations for the Summit Implementation Review Group made during the November 7, 2000 meeting of the OAS' Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management

Presented at the XX meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group November 28-30, 2000, Headquarters of the Inter-American Development BankWashington D.C.

1- Introduction

The Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management (CEGCI) of the Organization of American States met on November 7, 2000. Member States were joined by invited experts and Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) of the Hemisphere to discuss issues related to the proposed third pillar of the Third Summit's Plan of Action, Realizing Human Potential. Experts and CSOs came from a large and regionally representative number of Member States.

Prior to the meeting, the Chair of the Committee had distributed various documents in order to stimulate discussion, including: Themes Paper; Vital Connections; Chair's Summary of the September 19th Meeting; and Gender Mainstreaming Strategy. The entire meeting was broadcast over the Internet, through the OAS and Summit of the Americas Information Network web pages http://www.oas.org and http://www.summit-americas.org. The Chair of the Committee received email comments from the Canadian Foundation for the Americas, the CanElsa International Group, and the Inter-American Children's Institute.

This report contains summaries of comments and recommendations made by representatives of the member States and of civil society organizations during the meeting.

2- Opening Remarks

In his introductory remarks, Ambassador Peter Boehm, Chair of the Committee, highlighted the positive and constructive results of the most recent CEGCI meeting, held on September 19, 2000. He expressed his desire to continue fostering civil society participation in the activities of the OAS in preparation for the Quebec City Summit.

The Chair summarized various issues raised during the October 2-3, 2000 meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG), held in Quebec City. This meeting marked the launching of the negotiations process leading up to the Third Summit.

The Chair then welcomed comments and suggestions from experts and representatives from Civil Society Organizations participating in the CEGCI meeting. He noted that these comments on the third pillar, Realizing Human Potential, would be presented at the next SIRG meeting to be held in Washington D.C., November 28-30, 2000. The Chair also welcomed comments on the issue of "connectivity", a cross-cutting theme that will also be discussed at the next SIRG meeting. He noted the need for the practical application of this concept and invited suggestions in that sense, that will also take into account the lack of funding and infrastructure in the region, the economic divides and knowledge gaps, the special needs of each region and of marginalized groups, as well as the opportunity to take advantage of the International Financial Institutions’ expertise and ongoing programs.

Mr. Jaime Aparicio, Director of the Office of Summit Follow-up at the Organization of American States, then made some introductory remarks. Mr. Aparicio emphasized that the concept of Realizing Human Potential refers to the creation of societies which offer equal opportunities to all citizens, without exception. Mr. Aparicio mentioned that Heads of State and Government, when gathering at the next Summit of the Americas, will face the challenge of adopting proposals which will affect people in a concrete way and improve citizens' lives throughout the Americas. Efficient reforms, he argued, will only be possible if there is a constructive interaction between Civil Society Organizations and political actors. Mr. Aparicio noted that broad optimism had existed since the 1980s, following economic growth in many Latin American and Caribbean countries, but social and economic inequalities remain an immense problem. Democracy, he continued, has not yet delivered its promises of prosperity and better life for the majority of citizens in the region, who continue to suffer from social injustice, economic inequality, discrimination and exclusion.

3- Suggestions and Remarks by Civil Society Organizations

a)- General Comments on the Pillar Realizing Human Potential

- Democracy has to guarantee equal and equitable opportunities towards personal development in order to increase the participation of the population as a whole. (Argentina).

  • The consolidation of democracy in the hemisphere has not necessarily led to the establishment of democratic principles. Democracy cannot guarantee anything without material provisions and public participation. Education, in the same way, is not a panacea for the hemisphere's problems, even though it is a fundamental element in solving them. (Argentina)

- Equal opportunity for all is essential in realizing human potential. Thus, the greatest challenge the hemisphere faces is encouraging political participation from women, children and indigenous populations. (Guatemala)

- The third pillar underestimates the issues at hand and does not address human security and development. (Jamaica)

- Of the many social challenges in the hemisphere, poverty and income distribution are the most important. Action Items in the Quebec City Summit Agenda should strengthen the ability of the governments of the region to deliver basic social services and improve their social contracts with the citizens of the hemisphere (Canadian Foundation for the Americas)

- The Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development will support Summit implementation through its knowledge and advocacy with respect to the hemisphere's development needs and the capacity of the public and private sectors to meet them. (Inter-American Agency for Cooperation and Development)

- Placing Summit priorities such as gender issues and the environment into pillars causes arbitrary divisions of responsibilities that will impede an integrated focus on these items. (Canadian Foundation for the Americas)

- Immediate social priorities in the hemisphere include:

- Social sector reform in the following areas: tax system, pension plan, labour standards, and new informal sectors in the region.

- Education: at the Quebec City Summit, actions items must go beyond what was committed to in Santiago.

- Environment: should not be placed in the Creating Prosperity pillar alone, since environment has broader social impacts.

- Health-Environment link: clean air and water should be priorities.

- Connectivity and cultural diversity: for those two last issues, a clear, focussed, result-oriented and relevant action plan still needs to be defined.

(Canadian Foundation for the Americas)

b) Specific Issues

Strengthening Civil Society Participation

- Civil Society Organizations and Non-Governmental Organizations must be recognized by governments. (Costa Rica)

- There must be mutual respect between state representatives and Civil Society Organizations. (Honduras)

- A democracy that includes social participation in decision-making must make efforts to coordinate the various interests, development initiatives, responsibilities and rights that make up that society. By joining social and political forces, it will be possible to improve the well-being of our communities and eliminate inequalities that make national integration, democratic co-habitation and a strong and lasting peace difficult to achieve. (Honduras)

- Regarding the strengthening of Civil Society, governments ought to:

- Consider NGOs as valid participants in the formation and development of public policies;

- Create and strengthen institutional links between the State and NGOs that foster the realization of cooperative actions that benefit society; and

- Establish clear and transparent mechanisms that will designate public resources to organizations of the social sector.

(Asociación CONCIENCIA-Argentina)

- Governments should establish a new relationship between the State and CSOs, institutionalizing a dialogue, and creating mechanisms to ensure permanent contact on sectoral issues. Laws recognizing the rights of CSOs should be enacted which would ensure their right of assembly. Mechanisms should be established which provide public and private sources of financing in support of CSOs and their activities. Mechanisms for CSOs to monitor implementation of Summit mandates should be created. (Corporación Participa, Chile)

- The OAS should encourage its member states to recognize civil society not as an abstract element but rather as a basic component of the political process that can contribute to change in the hemisphere. The OAS should encourage its member countries to perceive civil society as formed by citizens who, once empowered, can act as responsible agents of change. Civil society organizations can contribute to the elimination of social inequalities and to broader social change, as they can express, in a simple and precise manner, people's aspirations. The role of citizens as important political actors must be recognized by member states of the OAS. (Murillo, Universidad de los Andes - Colombia).

- Civil Society Organizations should be able to access discussion papers more quickly: constructive contributions require timely, relevant information. (Canadian Foundation for the Americas)

- Governments should create a political framework that promotes public participation and the efficient publication of records and information by governments in a timely manner. Civil Society Participation is viewed with hesitation by the public sector: at best, it is perceived as a nuisance; at worst, it is perceived as a threat. (Transparency International)


-At the tertiary (university) level, there is not enough space to accommodate student demand. (Antigua and Barbuda)

- Language barriers have led to a lack of communication between countries. It is important to encourage the teaching of a second language in school in order to promote regional growth and cooperation. (Antigua and Barbuda)

- The brain drain phenomenon has become an increasingly acute problem and restricts the realization of human potential. (Argentina, Jamaica, Antigua and Barbuda)

- Member States should support an initiative to create a Pan-American Education Organization (PAEO) that would exist in cyberspace, thus eliminating the costly logistical and infrastructural aspects of such an organization. The PAEO would be useful for the Summit process; it could help measure progress that has been made in the area of education. (Antigua and Barbuda)

- Before new education mandates are added, the mandates that have already been established must be evaluated. There must be an analysis of goals already set before new ones can be made. (Barbados)

- Unemployment and underemployment are major constraints to ending poverty. Education can help eliminate these constraints; therefore it is fundamental in eradicating poverty as well. (Haiti)

- Education must have a purpose; it must work towards transforming society by instilling civic responsibility in citizens. From this perspective, education can help to relieve the problem of brain drain. Education must also help individuals realize their potential and their dreams, so that they can then contribute to problems confronting their nation and their region. (Haiti)

- Regarding the theme of distance education, the EDSAT initiative should be recognized at the Third Summit of the Americas. The University of West Indies is an example of a successful distance education initiative. (Jamaica)

- Educational mandates will not be implemented without the collective efforts of all involved. The Hemisphere must be active in setting benchmarks. Along with this proactivity, it is important to recognize systemic problems in resources and infrastructure that inhibit the achievement of certain mandates. (Jamaica)

- Education is a fundamental pillar of the Third Summit of the Americas. All actors should use their political power to continue the implementation of the education mandates from the 1998 Santiago Summit, and education goals should be reiterated at the Third Summit in Quebec City. (Mexico, Haiti)

- The Second Summit set ambitious education goals, the hemisphere should remain committed to the following topics:

- Quality of education

- Lifelong learning

- Participation of all actors in education

- New education challenges with globalization


- Regarding the education mandates approved at the First and Second Summits of the Americas, the three goals and eleven recommendations that were established were weak. These recommendations went too far in trying to address several issues related to education without the necessary resources to make significant progress in all of these areas. At the same time, the recommendations did not go far enough:

- They did not target the most important educational problems facing the hemisphere today, including issues of quality, equity and efficiency;

- They established very few benchmarks, which makes it difficult to measure the progress made in each country;

- They did not take full advantage of opportunities for genuine collective action in education, either at the regional or national levels.

These issues should be addressed at the Third Summit of the Americas as the majority of Latin American and Caribbean countries will not meet most of the goals made at the two former Summits. (PREAL - Inter-American Dialogue)

- As a result of a consultation process conducted by the National Convergence Forum in Honduras, some conclusions were drawn about the need to reform education in terms of quality, coverage and equity of education.

- Educational reform is only possible with the establishment of stable and professional institutions.

- For the next Summit, it will be necessary to re-address the issue of Education in the Plan of Action in order to make it more congruent with long and short-term actions that are required in order to transform education.

(Fundación Democracia y Desarrollo de Honduras - Honduras)

- Governments should commit to establishing region-wide standards in mathematics, science and language, and to establishing a region-wide examination system in order to measure and compare progress made. (PREAL - Inter-American Dialogue)

- Educational reform is needed in the region. Education must have a goal, which is to train youth for employment. (International Youth Foundation - Organización Esquel, Ecuador)

- Strengthening preparation/training of teachers is essential. Canadian universities contribute significantly to the social and economic development in the Americas, and more cooperation should be encouraged. Student exchanges should be supported between Canada and Latin America to heighten understanding between regions. (Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada)

Education for Democracy

- There is a need for solidarity, which is lacking both internally and externally within the region. This lack of solidarity needs to be addressed as much as democratic values and institutions have been. (Argentina)

- Corruption is a problem that must also be emphasized at the next Summit, because it causes the erosion of fundamental values that are essential towards future democratic development. (Argentina)

- There cannot be civic responsibility without a civic culture that is committed to democracy. Education for democracy is a key Summit mandate. (Ecuador)


- Regarding the topic of education for democracy, governments should:

- Support and promote a curriculum that incorporates programs which help in the formation of a democratic citizenry;

- Incorporate Civil Society Organizations that can, due to their experiences, help develop and implement educational reform together with the public education sector.

(Asociación CONCIENCIA-Argentina)

- In order to strengthen democracy, a new kind of citizenship -one that is engaged and participative- must be encouraged. This can be facilitated through the teaching of civic values and the organization of democratic leader training programs. (International Youth Foundation - Organización Esquel, Ecuador)


- Youth in the Americas increasingly live in poverty, marginalized and excluded from social development. Current education systems are not providing youth with the resources or tools needed to succeed. (International Youth Foundation - Organización Esquel, Ecuador)

- Financing (regarding credit, risk capital and technical assistance) is needed for the creation and development of youth projects and programs. (Boris Cornejo Castro, International Youth Foundation - Organización Esquel, Ecuador)

- The hemisphere's common agenda, including the consolidation of democracy, the eradication of poverty and discrimination, and the expansion of economic opportunities, necessarily includes the health, wellbeing, protection, education and participation of children and youth. (Inter-American Children's Institute)

- Within the third pillar of the Plan of Action for the upcoming Summit of the Americas:

- Topics related to children should be mainstreamed into Inter-American agencies and OAS bodies.

- Regarding Civil Society and Democracy - consideration must be given to strengthening democratic culture and participation of children and youth.

- Regarding Human Rights - Human rights standards that favor children and women must be ratified and implemented. The principles established by the Children's Rights Convention regarding children participation in matters that affect them should be defended and promoted.

- Regarding Human Security - Child and youth protection must be articulated by endorsing the Fifth Ministerial Meeting of the Americas on Infancy and Social Policy in the Americas. The Inter-American Children's Institute and PAHO should be designated as the official technical consultative bodies on children for the Third and future Summits of the Americas.

- Regarding Social Investment - emphasis should be placed on areas that favor the development of children and families.

(Inter-American Children's Institute)

- Youth should become a priority in public policy. Providing the youth with the tools to build their own future will enable them to work towards the region's development. It is essential to recognize youth as an important sector when working towards the realization of human potential (Young Americas Business Trust)


- In many respects women are the most important factors in improving the health and nutrition of their children: investments in education, health and nutrition for women have a strong multiplier effect. (CanElsa International Group)

- There is the need to allocate funds to empower women in different activities such as micro-enterprises. (CanElsa International Group)

- A major objective for all countries must be to promote sustainable improvements in income earnings capacity, so that poor communities can become self-supporting. Help programs can be low-cost and sustainable if they build on existing community structures. Women are often very much implicated in those structures, and can contribute to the improvement of their lives and that of other citizens if they are allocated the proper resources. (CanElsa International Group)

Indigenous Populations

- Dialogue on the historic neglect of indigenous populations in the region must be created and fostered. In order to reduce discrimination, the region must encourage actions that support underrepresented groups. We need to move forwards toward speedy adoption of the Inter-American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Populations. (Guatemala)

- The indigenous question is important, in the region and in particular in Guatemala. There is the need for a greater representation and strengthening of indigenous organizations. Discussions on indigenous people’s cultural, social and political manifestations should be encouraged. Countries must find a way to incorporate the indigenous people’s demands at a national level as opposed to limiting them to an ethnic, restrictive level. (Instituto de Investigación y Autoformación Política - Guatemala)

Fight Against Discrimination

- There has been a push to eliminate oppression of Afro-descendant Peoples by governments and this issue must be addressed at the Third Summit of the Americas. (Antigua and Barbuda)

- Obtaining true development and fully realizing human potential remains impossible if implicit or explicit instruments of socialization discriminate a certain group. With regards to Afro-descendant Peoples, some recommendations for the Plan of Action of the next Summit of the Americas follow:

- Make specific mention of Afro-descendants in the language of the Summit.

- Incorporate race and ethnicity as a component in census and household surveys in order to be able to measure change and progress.

- Develop appropriate mechanisms for ensuring that Afro-descendants benefit from the Plan of Action, its implementation and monitoring.

- Support and foster through programs and policies the creation of independent and sustainable civil society among Black population.

- Within the OAS, work towards a declaration on the rights of Afro-descendants.

- Institute educational reforms that meet high standards for cultural and ethnic diversity.

(Michael Franklin, Organization of Africans in the Americas)


- Without health and healthcare, it is impossible to realize human potential, strengthen democracy or create prosperity. Clear goals and measures must be defined to improve health conditions, and these improvement must be sought collectively by the region. Collective regional efforts must be made in order to defend shared objectives such as eradicating disease. (PAHO)


- Environmental education has not been cross-cutting and has therefore not permeated all subject matters, affecting our view of history, geography, and our society as a whole. Environmental education is a crucial part of education and must prepare people for a stable and secure way of life. (AGAPAN - Brazil)

- There is a lack of information regarding certain practices, including recycling and the production of genetically modified organisms. Recycling is only effective when done at a comprehensive level. Genetically modified organisms can be dangerous if scientists lack a component of social consciousness in their research. Citizen development must stem from new approaches to the production, packaging and consumption of products. This environmental approach to living can no longer be ignored. (AGAPAN - Brazil)

- A lack of unification and increased apathy of the citizenry leads to a lack of pride in their culture and their land. Without this pride, the conservation and preservation of the land and its resources is seriously threatened. (AGAPAN - Brazil)


- Agrarian policies are necessary and must be included in the Plan of Action. (Costa Rica)

- The hemisphere as a whole must confront the problems of growing population and increasing poverty in the region. The need to provide food and protect rural environments is more urgent than ever. (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture)

- Agriculture and rural life must given significant visibility at the Third Summit of the Americas. It is in these areas that poverty and inequalities are most pervasive. The IICA is working to develop a coordinated network of individuals and groups in the region active in the agricultural area, to make their views known for the next Summit and to serve as a mechanism for effective implementation of Summit mandates. (Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture)

Crime and Violence

- There must be a community-level effort to reduce violence in the Americas, especially violence directed towards women. (Antigua and Barbuda)

- The control measures for violence currently in place lack efficiency, and there is the need for prevention strategies rather than traditional repressive crime fighting measures. Leaders must invest in crime prevention, spread information concerning effective prevention strategies, and set in place prevention initiatives that reach out to citizens at a community level. Summit leaders should establish an anti-violence clearinghouse for dissemination of information to help combat violence and crime. Also needed is a regional network to help define/coordinate anti-violence policy across national borders. (Inter-American Coalition for the Prevention of Violence)


- Technology will play a vital role in future development. Information Technology must be disseminated in order to close the "digital divide". (Antigua and Barbuda)

- Connectivity could play an important role with the Summit process: advocacy can be enhanced through easy electronic dissemination. Websites can be useful sources of information and can also be an excellent tool in holding governments accountable. However, the following issues must be addressed: few opportunities for public participation, inadequate access to technological resources, and a lack of published documents (Transparency International)

- What is currently lacking is the political will to make vital connections possible. The public sector's lack of commitment to provide technology is concerning. The Internet could be a tool in publishing documents and disseminating information on the best technological practices and the progress of each country. Consultation with the private sector and Civil Society Organizations would enhance these publications. (Transparency International)

- There must be improved transparency in government procurement. In this case, technology would be an asset towards achieving this goal. (Transparency International)

- Connect Inter-American agencies, researchers, Civil Society Organizations, and international organizations through an Internet platform (an Inter-American Network of Children's Agencies) for topics such as child labor, children affected by violence, children affected by substance abuse, street children, and disabled children. (Inter-American Children's Institute)

- Projects related with connectivity have tremendous potential for providing training and information resources and for networking throughout the region. (Young Americas Business Trust)

- Government resources should not be devoted to the distribution of ICTs since technology’s reach is expanding unaided in any case. Government attention should not be diverted towards connectivity and away from the provision of basic social services. (Canadian Foundation for the Americas)

4. Conclusion

In concluding the meeting, the Chair undertook to inform the next meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group of the deliberations of the Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management. He congratulated participants for their constructive submissions and underscored the importance of the consultative meeting planned by Corporación Participa, Fundación Esquel and FOCAL in Miami for January 19-20, 2001, that will bring together many regional CSOs as well as government representatives for a full discussion of Summit priorities.

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