Twenty Years of the Summits of the Americas Process

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svc@oas.org
Twenty Years of the Summits of the Americas Process

To initiate reflection and discussion on some of the topics mentioned above, please consider your response to the following questions:

  1. We often hear talk of Summititis--that there are too many Summits, too often and with too many mandates; however, in comparison with other Summit processes (SEGIB, CELAC, ASEAN, UN), which meet annually or bi-annually, the Summits of the Americas are convened only once every three years. In your opinion, should the Heads of State of the OAS member states meet more often or less often? Why?
  2. What are some of the main successes and primary outcomes of the Summits of the Americas Process? Do you have any specific examples to share of how policies or programs adopted at a particular Summit of the Americas have impacted on your country, your community, or your personal experience?      
  3. The Summit of the Americas process is twenty years old. Do you think that the process has evolved sufficiently over the years to be an effective consultative, policy-generating and implementing mechanism? If so, what are some of these successful adaptations and how can they be furthered? If not, how can the Summit process be modernized?
  4. How can non-governmental actors realize the greatest impact on the Summit process? Are there other “doors” or avenues through which they can more effectively influence public policy and political decision-making?

Please feel free to post your own questions and reflections, and thank you in advance for your interest and participation in this forum.

English
mhuenneke@oas.org
mhuenneke@oas.org's picture
Welcome to the Forum!

Hello All--My name is Martin Huenneke and I will be moderating the forum. I have had the privelege of being involved in the last three Summits of the Americas (Mar del Plata '05, Port of Spain '09, Cartagena '12) through my work with the OAS Summits of the Americas Secretariat. During those Summits, I helped coordinate the participation of the Joint Summit Working Group and civil society in the process, as well as providing support to the Summit Implementation Review Group. I'm looking forward to your comments and questions, and sharing some of my own perpsectives on the Summits. 

To get started, please share your responses to the questions posted at the outset of the forum, or feel free to pose your own inquiries, reflections or experiences.

Thanks,

Martin 

goxley
goxley's picture
My Summit Experience

I participated in the last two summits in Port of Spain and Cartagena as a Scoial Actor. The experience was one of awe as we met many persons around our hemisphere that we may not ever meet elsewhere. This is one of the advantages of the summit process from the discussions in the SVC to the SIRG meeting.

The mandates are important when it can be matched to those of the Heads of Government. I felt this is an area that can be improved. The meeting with ministers can be improved since this is the meeting where the civil society recommendations are promoted and there can be a loss or misinterpretation of the recommendations when presented by those presenting having their own agenda. 

The summit meeting of CSOs can be improved in the ratio of the countries attending. The smaller islands of the Caribbean attending can be encouraged to attend the SVC if they are unable to go to the actual summit. With the livestream working since the last summit they can also feed their questions via the internet.

Becoming a consultative, decision making and implementing mechanism is up to the participants since their co operation is required. How many politicians say yes and mean no. What are the sanctions for organisations that breach the trust of the Summit process? We honour people for the length of time they participate instead of the depth of their participation; which is a misinterpretation of the whole object of the summit process.  The implementation aspect of the process is still to be developed. We can discuss and agree and sign on to mandates at the summit then back home there is a different attitude of the government. 

It is important to address the process of implementation and the partnering with governments. One political party may agree in principle but elections may take place during the implementation process and the changed poitical party taking up government is not and may not approve the presnting mandates. The question here is whether opposition parties be allowed to submit to the process with the heads or as a separate arm of the process allowing CSOs space to remain independant of partisan influence.

Democracy is still an illusion in our hemisphere as long as we try to manage the people rather than allowing people to manage themselves. Partisan control and the fight for power at elections are evident. Presently I beleive the manner of elections in Dominica where both parties are presenting similar manifestoes may be an interesting move to newness in the democratic process. How can political parties be encouraged to present similar manifestoes with their perspective to the people for elections; so that the people can have a choice in governance after elections in recalling what is placed on the manifestoes and mandates at the summit can reflect what these manifestoes are promising.  Countries will need to place their manifestoes online in a pool so participants can access them and share information around the hemisphere as to their reality when implemnting.  Changing the canfrontational politics to one of discussion/dialogue has been the highlight of the summit process which has been proven to be its success.

Moving forward will have to see how best to use this dialogue/summit process among actors.

 

mhuenneke@oas.org
mhuenneke@oas.org's picture
Response to My Summit Experience

Dear Gale,
Thanks for your comments and observations. YEs, the participation of civil society has become such an important part of the Summits process precisely because of the added value that consulting directly with social actors during the negotiation process brings.

At the Sixth Summit in 2012, a particular emphasis was placed on the importance of civil society and social actors as partners with governments in the implementation and realization of Summit commitments, particularly at the national and local level. These efforts would certainly enhance implementation, but are ones that clearly require sufficient resources and consistent collaboration.

The need to include more Caribbean civil society and social actors is a valid point. The OAS has worked with the Summit host countries to make CSO participation as regionally equitable as possible, but often times limited resources and sometimes a low response from Caribbean partners have created challenges.

goxley
goxley's picture
Response to My Response

Hi Huenneke,

Contact with certain civil society organisations in the Caribbean has been limited again due to partisan interests of those selected organisations. The involvement of social actors has been limited to a couple organisations previously because there was no organised plan of action or system to involve CSOs in the Summit process. I got involved because I was consulted on many activities and documents thus I am aware of what the summit process has evolved to become today. I am presently making the information available to as many organisations as possible using my personal resources as a matter of choice since making request to government means a compromise of some sort.

Over the past three years I have been working with a couple other persons to develop a workable system but the problem of the organisations that have been established as international organisations has been part of the cprrection or should I say evp;ution. The culture of partisan interest in CSOs has to be addressed and equity with those who do not choose partisan compromise is important for the separation of powers. We need an independent voice to monitor the real and objective activities within society.

The low response is part of the deading issue. People do not want to participate due to a level of trust. Can they be at fault? no. History has shown that those chosen or claim to be chosen has manipulted the civil body to an extent of extinction. People are willing to participate as I am getting persons to respond but they need to know where they are being taken and why. Transpareny has become a do as I say not as I do activity. Transparency International branch should be setting an example yet.....

I am very disappointed in organisations that have established links with International funding agents that practise a very low system of comradery since their practises leave little to be admired. in the realm of honesty and truth. The meetings that I have called have asked for transparency with honesty and accountability with truth.

 

goxley
goxley's picture
CSOs?

Martin,

Can we ask a question of ourselves......

Who do we represent? The guidelines of the OAS for CSOs are evident yet implementation is challenging. Many persons will not come forward in this forum to respond for fear of victimisation and loss of income, connection etc. How can we rise above our banal nature and serve justice?

A good question for our Heads of Government (HOGs).

I am prestnly seeking feedback before the forum ends of other groups and networks around the country. With the Christmas and Carnival preparation it is a very big challenge but I know of only one word - success. I will place the info at a later date.

Gale

goxley
goxley's picture
Information gathered from groups

Hi Martin,

I held a brief meeting with interested groups in Trinidad. Time contraints proved to be a definite challenge however two regions were represented. The issues on the difference between governance and implementation were the highlight of the meeting. Personal interests of CSO leaders and partisan politics took up a major area of the discussion.

The idea of the questions in this forum placed the members at a disadvantage since they only were accessible to the summit process held in Trinidad 2009. I had some explaining to do and their suggestions were:

1. Since governments go through a five year cycle, meetings should allow the sitting government time to participate implementing one mandate at a time. Special sessions can be called every two years for updates. Feedback and monitoring should be a priority with the use of technology enhancing participation at all levels - state; business and civil society.

2. Greater use can be made of the SVC forums. Information is not out there and this has to be done. Governments need to stand responsibility to Civil Society and have a deeper concept of 'public purse'.

3. Costs can be cut with the use of technology as files can be sent online and an information pool can be further developed. Access must be limited to participants.

4. The contractual arrangements between government and CSOs must be monitored by the body responsible. Representatives of Civl Society at all levels must be recommended from Civil Society and not Cabinet appointed. Even in the case of such appointment the recommendation must come from Civil Society. With a recall clause.

Much discussion surrounded the education of Civil Society Organisations as to their rights, duties and responsibilities. An agreement was made whereby further discussion will be carried to the next year with workshops on capacity for participation in governance. 

Javito
Javito's picture
La  Cumbre de las Américas

La  Cumbre de las Américas  Es importante Porque se concentran e Determinado Territorio de América jefes de Estado y de Gobiernos, fomentada y Organizada Por La Organización de los Estados Americanos  (OEA), Con El Objetivo de establecer Una diplomacia Común Parr resolver los Problemas del Sitio En El Que se produzca el encuentro, Que basicamente En pocas palabras Es Una cumbre de Gobernantes de los Países de América, un parrafo a Presentar: Temas Diplomáticos o Comerciales de mucha Importancia Y Que disuadir Un país a nivel continental de la ONU.

Conformada Por los Estados Independientes del Continente Americano, Que reunen MUCHOS Tipos de Temas concernientes con Una Resolución de problemáticas de Cada Estado, visualizando Modelos Funcionales Que se puedan Destacar de Un país ONU de la estafa Otro Acuerdos Necesarios de Compromiso y Mandato desde los jefes de Estado del Una del Cercanía del región Bien Común de los Individuos Que pertenecen En Cada.

Con lo anterior se ve claramente Que Lo Ideales it Contacto establecer Metas, Parr Desarrollo de Políticas Públicas y de Desarrollo Económico, Como Soluciones Positivas Una Procesos Que denigren o los Gobernadores Que ALLI SE Presentan Y comunicativos Abriendo Espacios Estafadores La Sociedad, lograr v Parr v Llegar Los jefes de los Entes Una PERSONAJES Y Que desconocen el Interés de esta cumbre, Por saciar las Necesidades de Compromisos Políticos y De Las Regiones PARA UN cotidianidad mejor vivir de los Individuos en su, entendidos y escuchados desde SUS Exposiciones con Cada Uno de los Temas Que Alli hijo Necesarios Parr idealizar Solución de la mano de los Distintos jefes de estado.

jaimieboyd
jaimieboyd's picture
Youth policy

Hi!  On Question 2 (and because this appears to be the only forum currently open!), I would love to hear participants’ views on policy innovations for youth.

At the last Summit in Cartagena, young people made a series of recommendations and commitments.  We’ve largely fulfilled our commitments, but have governments acted on our recommendations?  What are the best new policies that have been implemented in your country in the past three years?  What have been the benefits?

For example, in my country Canada, I think that one of the best new youth policies has been the Canada Apprentice Loan.  For many years, Canada has had a great system of providing students with access to preferential loans to pay for university, but until this year, apprentices didn’t qualify.  Canada faces labour market challenges; we have a very educated population, but we lack people with technical skills (e.g., electricians, plumbers).  We also have a youth unemployment rate that is over double the average unemployment rate.  I think the new policy is great because it responds to a need in the labour market while providing support to the people who need it most.

What about in other countries in the Americas?

asonaram
asonaram's picture
OAS Member States to meet more frequent

           

 I believe the Heads of State of the OAS member states should in fact meet more frequent oppose to every three years. Additionally to this, the inclusion of civil society and social actors whom have participated under same grounds should be provided for inclusion of these discussions as a point marker of collaboration to agenda and mandates of the summits operations.

 

 Reason I ask for the inclusion of civil society and social actors is for the equal ability of groups to present to the members states their progression and possible resolutions thereof. Because many a times our governments do no report accurately on the agenda. We need a sound cohesive voice before moving forward. My idea may be un-contravention, but sometimes we see a greater outcome with these steps being made. 

asonaram
asonaram's picture
My participation at the Summit

Dear All,

 

And Dear Martin… I’ve actually had the pleasure of being introduced to Martin on my first participation in 2013 under the theme of “Connecting the Americas: Advancing Partnership for Action” and Special General Assembly.

 

Though it was an honour to speak on the topic of citizen security, particularly on the process of ratification of laws in OAS states that criminalizes same sex relations and protection of LGBTI persons in the work environment. Yes our issues were addressed collectively and voiced by our appointed rapporteur, and having in contact since then with my group members. I believe it safe to say that the full inclusion and support of civil society and social actors is not fully supported by the summit. Yes civil society and social actors are included, the concern is, are we appointed or offered attendance to solely feel included?

 

Additionally, I more wish to see the full involvement of the Civil Society and Social Actors at forums that include the heads of state in addressing issues. Our Governments need to take more responsibility for their actions and their no actions on mandates agreed or signed to at these forums.

            Recently, as a Guyanese national, our Foreign Affairs Minister blatantly lied to the UN UPR group on issues raised in the above-mentioned documents, are addressing negative stereotypes against women; addressing discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity; decriminalising same-sex consensual relations; tackling violence against LGBT persons; addressing alleged police abuses, including unlawful killings, torture and ill-treatment; combatting all acts of violence against women and girls and supporting victims; abolishing the death penalty; prohibiting corporal punishment; access to clean water and sanitation; reducing maternal and infant mortality rates; access by women and girls to reproductive and HIV health services; reducing school dropout rates among girls; improving literacy rates; and Amerindian land rights and mining activities in indigenous traditional territories. – The problem right there is, no one person was present to contest these issues presented by the still Minister. These are things that need to be put to a stop.  Civil Society and Social Actors should be included full scale. (url of news article: http://www.kaieteurnewsonline.com/2015/01/27/un-to-review-guyanas-human-...)