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OAS Summit disappoints

Summit of the Americas 2009
Unfulfilled commitments
By LARA PICKFORD-GORDON Wednesday, April 22 2009

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Civil Society groups are disappointed that an action plan has not emerged from the Fifth Summit of the Americas and the Port-of-Spain Declaration, but 97 more commitments were added to the 634 yet to be fulfilled.

Dr Kris Rampersad, spokesperson for the Active Democracy Network comprising civil society organisations of 24 countries of the Organisation of American States including TT’s Network of Non-governmental Organisations for the Advancement of Women said they expected assigned deadlines.

However, the summit adopted only the 2015 deadline set by the union for the alleviation of poverty and achievement of the Millennium Development Goals when the UN was “reviewing that deadline.”

Rampersad said the only clauses which asserted accountability from governments were clauses 66, 90 and 99.

Clause 99 instructs Ministers of Finance or pertinent authorities to convene a meeting in 2010 to address regional financial and economic issues. “Will the financial and economic crisis wait until we reach clause 99 and 2010? Where is the action plan?

Where are the Caribbean priorities in the Declaration identified?” She said answers to the solutions and projects to address the financial, food, energy, environmental crises remain unanswered.

“In essence, it implies that we seem to have held a Summit to instruct all attending to commit to meet again,” Rampersad said. Although the Network is encouraged by governments reaffirming commitments to several areas including civil society in policy action and decision, strengthening their resolve to promote human rights, women’s rights and social inclusion, the declaration is no different from what was made at past summits.

Rampersad said the summit in Port-of-Spain added 97 more commitments to the 634 others while leaving the question of implementation open. She said the “token signing” of the final declaration by Chairman Prime Minister Patrick Manning on behalf of the heads raised the question of the level of the consensus achieved, and how binding were the commitments made “given their vagueness and lack of applicability to the most pressing of today’s realities.”

Last Friday civil society groups presented their recommendations to OAS Foreign Ministers at a pre-summit dialogue.

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