Media Center

Press Release


  May 2, 2008

The hemisphere needs the voice, energy and conviction of civil society to make the next Summit of the Americas happen. That was the word the Organization of American States (OAS) Assistant Secretary General, Albert R. Ramdin, delivered to the civil society representatives Thursday as he inaugurated a hemispheric civil society forum in Miami.

Under the Fifth Summit of the Americas central theme of “Securing Our Citizens’ Future by Promoting Human Prosperity, Energy Security and Environmental Sustainability,” the two-day Miami conference seeks to encourage discussion and exchange of ideas among civil society organizations that monitor the implementation of Summit mandates and work in the areas of the inter-American agenda. The forum was also an opportunity for civil society representatives to formalize and compile their recommendations and suggestions on the Concept Paper that the Trinidad and Tobago government prepared for the Fifth Summit of the Americas which it hosts in Port-of-Spain in April 2009.

Others addressing the forum included United States Permanent Representative to the OAS Ambassador Hector Morales; Ambassador Luis Alberto Rodríguez, Trinidad and Tobago’s National Summits Coordinator and Special Envoy to the Americas; member state ambassadors; Director of the OAS Summit Secretariat, David Morris; and various representatives of civil society organizations around the Americas.

“We believe, as does the government of Trinidad and Tobago, that it is important to guarantee an adequate space for civil society to express their aspirations and perspectives, not only to Governments but to the public at large,” said Ramdin, citing the Miami forum as “a clear example of the progress that has been made in institutionalizing the partnership between civil society and the Summits of the Americas process.” He described the forum itself as “rooted in the exercise of democracy in the public interest,” because governments alone cannot achieve peaceful societies, stable democracies and prosperous economies.

Ramdin argued that while the next Summit will not solve all problems, the issues of hemispheric security, migration, human rights, environmental sustainability, food security, energy security, poverty and inequity, and democratic governance, “all call for a common approach in order to achieve constructive change and progress.” He said the hemisphere’s leaders who will gather in Port-of-Spain Trinidad in April 2009 must seize upon the urgency of the challenges and make a commitment to move forward together with “concrete, results-driven and people-centred actions to make a real difference in the lives of the peoples of the Americas.”

The OAS official thanked the Trinidad and Tobago government for offering to host the next Summit. He commended Prime Minister Patrick Manning’s vision, and thanked Ambassador Luis Alberto Rodriguez and the National Secretariat of Trinidad and Tobago for their dedication to a consultative approach to crafting the agenda and Declaration for the next hemispheric Summit.

Before concluding their meeting on Friday, the civil society representatives will present the Trinidad and Tobago National Summits Coordinator with recommendations emerging from their thematic roundtable discussions.

Reference: E-159/08