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OAS Hosts Forum with Civil Society to Analyze Progress since the Sixth Summit of the Americas

  March 18, 2013

The Organization of American States (OAS) today hosted at its headquarters in Washington, DC, the forum "Connecting the Americas: Advancing Partnerships for Action," in which civil society representatives and other social actors presented their ideas and experiences on the implementation of the mandates of the Sixth Summit of the Americas, which took place in April 2012 in Cartagena, Colombia.

The forum was opened by the OAS Secretary of External Relations, Ambassador Alfonso Quiñonez, who welcomed the participants noting that the Summit "is not an event that happens every three years, but a continuous process, which is enriched with the participation of various actors." In this regard, he stressed the importance of the meeting and of "continuing the dialogue and exchange of information on this phase of follow-up and implementation."

In his address, Ambassador Quiñonez spoke about the contribution that the OAS has made in advancing the commitments made by the Heads of State and Government at the Cartagena meeting on issues such as sustainable development; social development; security; the fight against drugs; and democracy. On this point he noted as an example the adoption of the "Inter-American Strategy for the Promotion of Public Participation in Decision Making on Sustainable Development," which provides a concrete platform to address specific environmental issues with the participation of all concerned citizens. "Our work in the region confirms that an informed civil society can be an active partner in the development process and generate multiple benefits for our societies and the environment," he said.

"We are in a promising stage for our region, in which we have been able to make democratic advances coupled with significant economic growth, even more so considering it has taken place in the midst of the recession that has affected the whole world," he said, while also recognizing the great challenges that remain. "As our Secretary General, José Miguel Insulza, has expressed, we must work tirelessly to achieve sustainable economic growth; reduce rates of poverty and inequality which affect women, indigenous people, afro-descendants and disabled people in particular; reduce crime and insecurity; and strengthen democratic institutions," concluded the official of the hemispheric institution.

The Acting Representative of Panama to the OAS, José de Jesús Martínez, addressed the attendees of the forum as the next host and current Chair of the Summit Process, and expressed his appreciation for the contribution made by civil society organizations "with their critical spirit" in the implementation of initiatives emanating from the presidential meetings. "Next year we will enter fully into the preparation of the Seventh Summit," he announced, and said that in that context his country would assign great importance to the contributions made by social actors with their recommendations.

The Panamanian diplomat said that, in the framework of the upcoming 43rd OAS General Assembly to be held in June in Antigua, Guatemala, Panama's government will outline its vision for the 2015 presidential meeting and that his country hopes to soon launch the process of dialogue and engagement with civil society to ensure a smooth and rich relationship.

Participants in the forum also discussed specific initiatives arising from the Sixth Summit, and put special emphasis on progress made and next steps, as well as the difficulties identified during the first year following the meeting in Cartagena. At this point the Permanent Representative of Colombia to the OAS, Ambassador Andrés González, said that the participation of civil society is "an essential part of the Summit process, as it represents the great engine of a society."

Speaking of the central theme of the Sixth Summit, "Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prosperity," Ambassador González stressed that the major outcome of the meeting was the commitment of the countries of the Americas to "unite for prosperity." "This seems obvious, but it isn’t in practical terms," he said, and reiterated that on issues such as social inclusion there is still much work to be done. In this vein, the representative of Colombia deplored for example the lack of access to reliable, economic, low cost energy suffered by nearly 40 million people in the hemisphere, "a phenomenon that is paradoxical, since our region has one of greatest riches in terms of natural resources and energy production possibilities." "This indicates that we have not been able to govern properly so that the benefits of social inclusion reach all citizens of the hemisphere," he said.

The event was also attended by the co-founder of WEConnect International, Elizabeth A. Vázquez; the Acting Director of the Department of Public Security of the OAS, Alvaro Briones; and representatives of the "Sixth Summit Program of Implementation: Partnerships for Action," in charge of the Summits of the Americas of the OAS. The forum also included working sessions focused on some central themes of the Summit such as energy, environment and infrastructure; social and economic inclusion; and citizen safety. The results of this forum and virtual consultations that have taken place since the Summit will be presented to Member States at the next meeting of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG).

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-098/13