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OAS Secretary General Highlights Sixth Summit as Last Opportunity to Advance on Fulfillment of Millennium Development Goals

  November 8, 2011

The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza, reiterated the importance of the Summit of the Americas in 2012 Summit of the Americas in 2012 as the last opportunity to set the guidelines and tasks to be undertaken collectively to achieve the Millennium Development Goals, at the meeting with representatives of the Member States participating in the Fourth Regular Session of the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG), responsible for negotiating the documents for the meeting in Cartagena de Indias (Colombia).

"When the seventh summit takes place, we will be in the year of implementing the millennium development goals, therefore, any task you want to address to achieve these goals collectively by the states has to emerge from this summit," said the leader of the hemispheric organization at the meeting at OAS headquarters in Washington, DC. Prior to the meeting the Secretary General met with the Summit National Coordinator and Chair of the GRIC, Ambassador Jaime Girón.

At the preparatory meeting for the Cartagena Summit, which has as its main theme, "Connecting the Americas: Partners for Prosperity," Secretary General Insulza welcomed the progress achieved in the negotiations of the final document of the Summit on the topics of natural disasters and poverty and inequality, and called for the deliberations and negotiations to be focused on the substantive contents of the resolutions. "I invite you to speed up the discussions to cover substantive issues and not concentrate too long on the wording," he said, adding that "from the public’s point of view, the key is what we are going to do on these issues and what policies will be set to address them. "

In presenting his ideas on the issues of poverty and inequality, the highest representative of the regional organization pointed out that while many countries in Latin America and the Caribbean are well above other countries of the world in terms of human development, high levels of poverty and indigence still prevail in the region. "We can not forget that we still have a hundred million indigent people and two hundred million poor people in our hemisphere," he said, and mentioned that the challenge is "how to link to this decade of economic growth with a substantial improvement in the poverty levels? "

In this regard, Secretary General Insulza stressed that, while poverty has declined in the hemisphere, inequality remains a major problem. "ECLAC has noted that a better income distribution would enhance the effect of economic growth on poverty reduction. A reduction of only five percent in the Gini coefficient will produce the annual growth needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals on poverty eradication, "he said.

The head of the multilateral institution also recalled that inequality goes beyond monetary distribution, "There is also inequality in the access to education, in the access to health, and in the access to housing and public safety." "As the economy grows, the aspirations of the middle class of our region are also on the rise, and thus their demands toward society and the state will increase. This indicates that the issue of inequality is also a matter of balancing and strengthening our democracy, "he added.

On the issue of natural disasters, one of the main themes of the Summit, Secretary General Insulza extended an invitation to consider that the policies in this area should focus on prevention and mitigation of disasters, a task that he said "can be addressed collectively." "We must have better planning to prevent disasters and program our development in view of the disasters we know are going to happen," he concluded.

The SIRG is the core management body of the Summit Process comprised by Member States and chaired by the host country of the next Summit. The Group is responsible for negotiating the text of the documents to be agreed at each Summit and report to the Ministers of Foreign Affairs on the progress made in fulfilling the mandates of the Summits; that information is reviewed by the Ministers during the regular session of the OAS General Assembly.

During this week’s SIRG meeting representatives of Member States received the proposals formulated last week at the "Policy Dialogue: Road to Cartagena" on natural disasters and poverty and inequality. Under the leadership of the OAS, the Summits of the Americas Secretariat convened members of civil society organizations, women organizations, labor associations, indigenous peoples, youth, afro-descendants, people with disabilities, academia, the private sector and the gay, lesbian and transgendered communities from 19 countries. Such initiatives aim to establish a direct link between the needs and requirements of the citizens of the Member States and the meeting that every three years brings together their top political leaders to reach agreements of a continental scope.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-945/11