Media Center

Press Release


  May 10, 2007

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, stressed today that civil society has a vital role to play in defending the legitimacy of democracy. He made the remarks as he addressed the opening of a meeting of member state delegates and representatives of non-governmental organizations from the hemisphere. The two-day meeting is being held to discuss issues to be addressed at the OAS General Assembly to be held in Panama City, June 3-5.

The Roundtable with Civil Society and Special Meeting of the Committee on Inter-American Summits Management and Civil Society Participation in OAS Activities (CISC) were organized by the Summits of the Americas Secretariat to expand dialogue between member states and NGO’s, while strengthening the participation of civil society groups in the follow-up of the mandates adopted in the Summits.

Among officials on hand for the opening were Carmen Marina Gutiérrez, Director of the Summits Secretariat; the Permanent Representative of Panama to the OAS, Ambassador Aristides Royo; and the Permanent Representative of Trinidad and Tobago and CISC Chair, Ambassador Marina Valere.

Underscoring the importance of civil society’s participation in all areas, Insulza noted that “not only must the attention of governments and the general public be drawn to certain issues, but dialogue should also be formalized on issues that affect us all, if we are to strengthen our societies and build a better future for this hemisphere.”

Insulza, echoing the concerns expressed by some NGO representatives, appointed Mariclaire Acosta to be his Special Representative for meetings between civil society and the hemispheric body. “The aim of this decision is engage in ongoing dialogue and be able to assess whether NGOs have sufficient access to the Organization, and for them and OAS Department Directors to discuss any problems that could arise.”

On NGO participation in the upcoming General Assembly session in Panama, Insulza explained that “there is no question that all organizations officially registered with the OAS will be able to participate in the meetings scheduled during the General Assembly.” He said meetings with civil society representatives in Panama will be extended to allow the organizations more time to express their views on issues that will be addressed in their talks with the foreign ministers.

The roundtable will address the issue of “Energy for Sustainable Development,” main theme of the General Assembly, in addition to the promotion of democracy and governance; promotion and protection of human rights, hemispheric security; social development; and combating poverty.

Reference: E-123/07