for the Fourth Summit of the Americas, to be hosted by Argentina
in November, are off to a good start, but work still remains
for Western Hemisphere nations as they craft a summit declaration
and plan of action, according to U.S. National Summit Coordinator
In March 25 remarks at the Civil Society Task Force "Summit
in Focus" Program in Washington, Maisto said that a
recent Summit Implementation Review Group meeting in Buenos
Aires, Argentina, marked the beginning of negotiations toward
a summit declaration and plan of action.
The U.S. official said the draft declaration and guidelines
for a plan of action released by the Argentine government
represent a "good start."
Maisto applauded the draft declaration's focus on the summit
theme of "Creating Jobs to Fight Poverty and Strengthen
Democratic Governance," and he offered suggestions
for building on the solid start.
He argued that the declaration should be "action-oriented
and forward-looking," focusing on measures that leaders
can take within the context of realities such as debt, deficits,
and global forces beyond their control.
"It serves no purpose to focus on problems,"
he said. "We need to focus on solutions."
Maisto said the best way to fight poverty and create good
jobs is to be competitive. He said the declaration needs
to stress the central role of the private sector in job
creation. The appropriate role of government is not to create
jobs but to create the conditions that promote job creation
by the private sector and to ensure that citizens are given
equal opportunities, Maisto said.
The U.S. official said the draft should recognize the need
for input from trade ministers on the Free Trade Area of
the Americas and other regional trade matters. He rejected,
however, the draft declaration singling out particular sectors
among the many being dealt with by regional trade officials.
If the summit is serious about creating jobs, he said,
"anti-corruption and transparency; strengthened local
government and decentralization; independent, efficient,
and credible judicial systems; and the rule of law and fiscal
responsibility, among other issues, need to be prominent
in the declaration."
Maisto also said that security is essential to implementing
all summit goals and that the United States would seek language
in the summit declaration highlighting the importance of
security. Security is a prerequisite "if we are to
achieve sustained economic growth and job creation"
throughout the hemisphere, he said.
Maisto said hemispheric leaders plan to discuss the draft
declaration on the margins of the Organization of American
States General Assembly in June and a more intensive set
of talks scheduled in September.
He encouraged civil society representatives to engage their
governments and offer their input, and he pointed out that
many of the hemispheric ministerial meetings this year will
offer opportunities for civil society to submit recommendations
on Summit-related issues.
Following is the text of Maisto's remarks, as prepared
"Update on Planning for the Fourth Summit of the Americas"
Remarks by Ambassador John F. Maisto,
U.S. National Summit Coordinator
Civil Society Task Force "Summit in Focus" Program
Washington, D.C., March 25, 2005
I want to thank all of you for coming out on this Good
Friday morning, and especially those of you who have the
day off -- I'm not sure it's a good thing that we're all
working while our friends in Latin America enjoy Semana
Santa, but at least it demonstrates our dedication to the
region. I especially want to thank the Civil Society Task
Force for making all the arrangements, and IFES for once
again hosting us. This "Summit in Focus" series
is truly an important contribution to our effort to engage
civil society, and of course you're all aware that we are
trying something new this month -- a webcast that we hope
will expand our dialogue even farther.
My reason for being here today is to give you a readout
on preparations for the Fourth Summit of the Americas that
Argentina will host next November. We held a meeting of
the Summit Implementation Review Group, the SIRG, just two
weeks ago in Buenos Aires, and it really represented the
beginning of our negotiations toward a declaration and plan
of action for that Summit. Argentina presented a draft declaration
and distributed so-called "guidelines" for a plan
of action. The Argentine Government released both of these
documents publicly, and you should be aware that that is
an unprecedented step that I think really puts a burden
on the shoulders of civil society to engage with governments
as we move forward on the negotiation.
In the short time I have today, I want to do three things:
I want to give you a very brief sense of our initial reaction
to the Argentine draft; I want to let you know where we
go from here; and I want to give you my sense of how civil
society can best engage.
We really believe that the Argentine draft declaration
gets us off to a good start. They want to keep the declaration
focused on the Summit theme -- which is "Creating Jobs
to Fight Poverty and Strengthen Democratic Governance"
-- and we support that idea. They have also told us that
they see the Action Plan as the place to address our broader
agenda, and we agree that makes sense. At this point, we
really have no draft action plan, and it's clear that will
need a lot of work. So my comments today are limited to
the draft declaration.
First, it is our view that the declaration must be action-oriented
and forward-looking; it serves no purpose to focus on problems.
We need to focus on solutions. All governments have to work
within realities such as debt, budget deficits, high oil
prices, and global forces beyond our control. But leaders
have a lot they can do even given those constraints, and
that should be the focus of the declaration.
Second, the most basic way to fight poverty and create
good jobs is to grow and to be competitive. Countries that
have high growth rates are also best at fighting poverty
and creating jobs. So the declaration needs to stress the
central role of the private sector in job creation. And
it needs to make clear that the appropriate role of governments
is not to create jobs, but to create the conditions that
promote job creation by the private sector, and to ensure
that all people have equal opportunity to improve their
lives via access to quality education, vocational training,
health care, and other basic social needs. Opportunity,
competitiveness and economic growth, along with good democratic
governance, are also the only way our hemisphere can truly
tackle disparities in income distribution.
On trade: It is our view that singling out particular sectors
among the many being dealt with by our trade ministers is
not appropriate in the declaration, but we are pleased that
the Argentine draft specifically recognizes the need for
input from our trade ministers on the FTAA and other regional
trade matters. What leaders say about trade, and the FTAA
in particular, will obviously be very important.
Fourth, in our view, security is basic to being able to
implement all our Summit goals. We will be seeking language
that highlights the importance of security -- for the individual,
for communities, for cities and rural areas, for countries,
and for the hemisphere -- if we are to achieve sustained
economic growth and job creation.
Finally, good democratic governance is more important,
in our view, than the draft declaration suggests, if we
are serious about creating jobs: anti-corruption and transparency,
strengthened local government and decentralization; independent,
efficient, and credible judicial systems; and the rule of
law and fiscal responsibility, among other issues, need
to be prominent in the declaration.
I want to stress that these reactions are very preliminary,
and that we really are pleased with much of what is in the
Argentine draft. But clearly we have a lot of work to do
to achieve a consensus document for leaders to consider.
So what are the next steps? At the SIRG meeting, we agreed
to move up the timetable by holding a first negotiating
session in Fort Lauderdale on the margins of the OAS General
Assembly in June, in addition to the scheduled minister-level
SIRG meeting. So all of our governments are busy preparing
detailed written comments for the Argentines, which will
then be incorporated into a second draft for review at that
session. For our part, I am chairing an inter-agency process
with the National Security Council involving all relevant
U.S. government agencies. Through this process, we will
develop a set of comments on each successive draft, and
are also developing proposals for language and commitments
we believe should be on the leaders' agenda. Countries will
begin a more intensive series of negotiations in September,
with input coming along the way from the various ministerial
meetings being held this year. Needless to say, this is
a very complex process.
So where does civil society fit? In the first instance,
civil society organizations should engage their own governments
-- hopefully through forums like this one and other contacts.
Every country has a national Summit coordinator, and that
person should be a first stop for any organizations with
specific interests. Second, as we've done in the past, many
of our SIRG meetings will have a session set aside to engage
civil society. Third, many of the ministerial meetings this
year will provide more focused opportunities for civil society
input on Summit-related issues. And of course there will
be special sessions for civil society to craft recommendations,
like the session held here last January and the one scheduled
for April 11 and 12 -- both organized by the Summits Secretariat.
The April meeting is of particular interest to me, because
it is designed to prepare for the OAS General Assembly that
the United States will host in Ft. Lauderdale in June. The
theme for this year's General Assembly is "Delivering
the Benefits of Democracy," so obviously there is a
close link between the Summit and the General Assembly this
year. I encourage you to participate in April, and to join
us in Ft. Lauderdale. And I want to take this opportunity
to stress again that all organizations wanting to attend
the General Assembly must send a request to the OAS General
Secretariat no later than April 5 -- that's only ten days
I'm going to stop here, and I want to thank you for this
opportunity. We look forward to hearing your thoughts and
views as we move toward the Summit, and I'm happy to take
any questions today.