Media Center

Press Release


  June 5, 2005

FORT LAUDERDALE, Florida – Civil society “plays an important role in assuring the effectiveness of public policies and in building a democratic culture,” the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, said today, during a dialogue between nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) and delegations of the OAS member states.

“The conclusions that we reach will help us to better understand the challenges and realities we face in the region and to tackle problems that concern us today and that we have not been able to resolve,” Insulza said in opening the meeting, an event of the OAS General Assembly.

More than 220 representatives of 133 NGOs are participating in activities of the General Assembly, which officially begins this afternoon. During today’s dialogue, several NGOs presented recommendations that came out of a preparatory meeting the organizations held in April, which was sponsored by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Roger Noriega, the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, said his government has donated more than $250,000 this year to support civil society participation in OAS activities and in the upcoming Summit of the Americas in November, believing it is important “to hear the full range of civil society voices.”

The recommendations presented by the NGOs to the member states cover four main areas: democracy, human rights, multidimensional security and economic development. During the dialogue, moderated by the Director of the OAS Summits of the Americas Secretariat, Luis Alberto Rodríguez, representatives of more than a dozen organizations expressed their concerns about these and other issues.

The specific recommendations included ideas about how to make the Inter-American Democratic Charter a more effective instrument for crisis prevention. NGOs could play a key role in reporting on “the state of democracy” in their countries, the representatives said.

For his part, Canadian Foreign Minister Pierre Pettigrew noted that civil society can help the member states develop and promote democratic policies that are “rooted in our communities.”

Paraguayan Foreign Minister Leila Rachid agreed that civil society has an important role in working to improve democratic governance in the countries of the region.

Reference: E-111/05