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At OAS General Assembly, Member States Look at Preparations for Summit of the Americas

  June 5, 2014

The hemisphere’s foreign affairs ministers, gathered Tuesday at a meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) in Asunción, Paraguay, discussed the dates, content, and participants for the next triennial gathering of Heads of state and government of the Americas, to be held in Panama in 2015.

The SIRG meeting took place on the sidelines of the June 3 to 5 forty-fourth regular session of the Organization of American States (OAS) General Assembly in Asunción.

Panama’s Foreign Minister, Francisco Alvarez de Soto, reiterated his country’s hope that the Seventh Summit of the Americas "will allow us to continue the search for mechanisms for us to unite and efficiently find solutions to the challenges facing the countries of the Americas."

Minister Alvarez announced that Panama had proposed the last week of April 2015 for the heads of state and government to meet, and that the Summit debates should revolve around the theme of "Corporate Social Responsibility," under four possible areas for discussion: accountability and transparency; meeting society’s demands; innovation and continuous performance improvement; and respect for the environment and the concerns of the social environment.

"It would be desirable for all public institutions to be managed in a way that complies with the parameters and standards of social responsibility, in order for the state to be a set of institutions that are close to citizens and which, besides providing them services, could address important community needs like promoting culture and education and maintaining health, and to promote initiatives that would help reduce the environmental impact of their activities," Alvarez noted. All this, furthermore, “in strategic partnership with the private sector.” He did warn, however, that the new government in his country, scheduled to be sworn in on July 1 under the leadership of President-elect Juan Carlos Varela, may want to reorient or in some way broaden the content of this issue.

With regard to fulfillment of the mandates from the Sixth Summit of the Americas, held in Cartagena de Indias, Colombia, in April 2012, the Panamanian foreign minister identified aspects of the progress his country has made on social and poverty reduction issues as well as on the participation of the public and private sectors as engines of growth, infrastructure projects, increasing and facilitating international trade and connectivity, reducing unemployment, and promotion of small- and medium-size enterprises, among others.

OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza, meanwhile, stressed the importance of the implementation stage for mandates from the heads of state and government. "This meeting provides us an opportunity to talk about how the process is going and to review progress in fulfilling those mandates," he said, noting the importance of national reports from member states and organizations that make up the Joint Summit Working Group (JSWG), “which tell us what progress our region has made."

Recalling that this year marked 20 years since the First Summit of the Americas was held in Miami, Florida, Secretary General Insulza said that over these two decades, "we have witnessed a significant evolution in the Americas; the issues addressed have changed, as has the participation of civil society and social actors." He recalled further that the summits "have adapted to the changing realities of our region, arguing that we must be prepared to tackle new issues today and discuss them in a way that is in keeping with the expectations of our citizens, thereby reaffirming our shared values, in order to address these new challenges."

The Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the Summit of the Americas, Alfonso Quiñónez, delivered the implementation report on progress since the Cartagena Summit. He cited some of the initiatives pursued by the twelve institutions that support the process, in relation to fighting poverty and inequality, infrastructure, public security, access to technology, disaster prevention and mitigation, and drug policy. Quiñónez concluded by urging the countries to participate in the process of sharing experiences with implementation at national level, so as to make progress visible. He also reiterated the Summits Secretariat’s commitment to continue supporting the preparations for the meeting in Panama.

During the meeting, comments were made by the representatives of Ecuador, Canada, Jamaica, the United States, Nicaragua, Venezuela, Bolivia, Brazil, Argentina, Saint Lucia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Uruguay, Mexico, Dominica, Chile, Guyana, Guatemala, Trinidad and Tobago, Colombia, El Salvador, and Peru. Several delegates talked about Cuba possibly participating at the next hemispheric meeting.

On that note, Secretary General Insulza said that "I fully endorse the idea of universalization of this debate, and I support a fully-inclusive OAS, an inter-American system with the 35 independent states of the Americas participating." Finally, he expressed the hope that the Panama Summit would be historic in that regard.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

The B-Roll of the event is available here.

The full video of the event is available here.

The audio of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-234/14