Distinguished Madam Bordenave
Director of the OAS Summits of the Americas Secretariat,
Representatives from civil society organizations,
Colleagues from the OAS,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the Organization of American States I would like to thank you for your presence at this Regional Forum in preparation for the Fourth Summit of the Americas.
I am indeed pleased to be here and to share some thoughts with you. I always feel a particular sense of satisfaction when we are able to meet with the civil society at large and exchange and share experiences and views.
Your role in informing policy –domestically as well as regionally- is of critical importance if we want to achieve the noble objectives of peace, justice and solidarity.
This two-day Forum has a fundamental objective: to exchange opinions, points of view and information about the themes and policies related to the inter-American agenda, and, in particular, how to realize the benefits of democracy, strengthen our democratic institutions, achieve economic and social development, and promote international security in the region.
The conclusions that you reach will serve to help us and the OAS member states understand more deeply our challenges and realities at the regional level, and spur action on the problems with which we are currently concerned and for which we have not found efficient solutions.
The General Secretariat firmly believes that we need to prioritize and focus our work on the consolidation of democracy and the strengthening of governance; the promotion and protection of civil, political, economic, social, cultural, and human rights; sustainable development, and multidimensional security.
The participation of civil society in the design of public policies reflects the new dynamic of inclusion and consensus-building that is taking root in the Americas. It is also a recognition, at the highest political levels, that social organizations can serve as agents of democracy and of social change and progress. To make this happen it requires that we create ownership from the beginning –the identification or design phase- and throughout the process of implementation and evaluation.
The OAS is convinced that civil organizations carry out an essential function in ensuring the effectiveness of public policies and in the construction of a democratic culture. Grass-roots organizations, neighborhood associations, and groups of citizens who contribute to the formulation of new programs mobilize their communities in order to ensure greater access to health and education services, protection of the environment, and the creation of community businesses, to cite only a few examples.
I share the view that cooperation between States, political parties, multi-lateral agencies, and non-governmental organizations is the best way to serve the interests of all citizens of the Americas.
This Forum is an example of this new reality. In the face of the many challenges posed by globalization, democratic reforms and the modernization of the State, the OAS has taken concrete and innovative measures that have inspired the participation of civil society in its activities and the ministerial meetings of Education, Culture, Science and Technology and Labor, convened under the auspices of the OAS.
The Summits of the Americas gave new impetus to the participation of civil society in the inter-American agenda. The space for citizen participation in the Summit Process is now institutionalized and recognized as a key element to undertake our many challenges.
The spirit of collaboration between governments and civil society organizations is evident by the draft work of the Fourth Summit of the Americas to take place in Mar del Plata this November. The opinions and consultations of social groups make up part of a strategy coordinated by the OAS and the government of Argentina, which is facilitating the incorporation of all actors in the debate on the most effective mechanisms for creating jobs, attacking poverty, and strengthening governance.
Through these efforts and the improvement of cooperation among the countries of the region, we are creating working partnerships to confront the problems affecting the Americas.
I am convinced of the importance of continuing to extend the avenues of cooperation and collaboration between the Member States and civil society inside the OAS. We need to work together creatively, be open to new ideas, be visionary and ready to develop synergies between all stakeholders so we can achieve the transformations that development demands.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
These developments within the OAS and the enhanced spirit of public-private cooperation and partnership have been achieved through the concentrated efforts of our political organs, the Summits of the Americas Secretariat, which is responsible for coordinating and encouraging the participation of civil society, and, of course, our Member States. At this point I would like to publicly acknowledge the hard work done in this regard by the Summits of the Americas Secretariat, its Director Luis Alberto Rodirguez and his team. At its best, this spirit of cooperation emphasizes accountability and creates real benefits for all the citizens of our Hemisphere.
Your substantive and sustained input into the Summit process is both welcome and necessary. I applaud the efforts of civil society organizations, some of which are among us today, to raise concerns, offer recommendations and work with governments and the OAS to develop opportunities and create possibilities for sustained growth and development for all the peoples of the Americas.
Thank you very much.