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The Canadian Foundation for the Americas (FOCAL) is no longer in operation. This website documents FOCAL's activities and accomplishments throughout its existence. Thank you for your interest in the work of FOCAL.

Fifth Summit of the Americas Bulletin 2

Civil Society at the Fifth Summit of the Americas

April 14, 2009

The Summit of the Americas in Trinidad and Tobago is right around the corner. But first comes the Civil Society Forum in Port of Spain on April 14-15. This Forum carries on the tradition, started at the 2001 Summit in Quebec City, of bringing the hemisphere’s civil society together to discuss and debate how citizens’ and their governments can make a difference. Those ideas and recommendations are a vital part of the Summit process.

The Forum will look back at the pre-Summit consultation process in the Caribbean and Latin America and also how it included Afrodescendants through their own Inter-American Forum. The Forum will also focus on how civil society can build its own capacity to advocate for and support the implementation of the Fifth Summit’s commitments.

Both our Executive Director Carlo Dade and I will be in Trinidad & Tobago.  FOCAL will be participating in the Forum as a resource organization to help facilitate discussion. Another Canadian voice also will be heard: The Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell, Canada’s former prime minister, will be addressing the Forum by video.

We look forward to reporting back what we learn and how FOCAL will be following up the Fifth Summit declaration in Canada.
Yours Sincerely,

Racquel Smith
Program Manager, Inter-American Affairs

National Alliance: Voice of Canadians in Calgary, Vancouver meetings

Entrepreneurs, academics, students and civil society representatives met in Calgary on March 26 and Vancouver March 27 to discuss the Fifth Summit of the Americas.  The discussion highlighted not only Canadians’ interest in Canada’s foreign policy in the Americas, but by the enormous need for the government to engage its citizens more with Canada’s number two foreign policy priority, after Afghanistan.

This is what Canadians were saying:

Summit Agenda

  • The concept of security needs to be broadened from the narrow focus on terrorism to include drug trafficking, violent crime, corruption, immigration and the illegal arms trade, including weapons coming from the U.S. Canada needs to take a more prominent role on this front.
  • The Summit of the Americas needs to take the environment seriously when it puts it on the agenda.
  • Indigenous Peoples’ rights and gender equality need to be separated from other forms of discrimination in the Declaration in order to give them priority and to take action on them.

Summit Effectiveness

  • Summit initiatives need to be tied to clear financing commitments.
  • Summit governments need to be more transparent with regard to the progress they make on Summit initiatives.
  • The Summit needs to define when and how and with what money government, the private sector and civil society can engage on specific issues in order to take effective action.
  • The Summit needs institutional funding in order to allow less wealthy countries to host it.
  • The Summit should considering scaling itself back to a meeting of heads of state in the hemisphere.
  • The Summit of the Americas needs to narrow its agenda to a few priority areas for it to be meaningful.

Canada and the Americas

  • While remaining committed to the Summit of the Americas and the Organization of American States, Canada needs to engage in the hemisphere in other ways and alternate forums.
  • Canada needs to shift its focus from being helpful to the U.S. to building an ongoing relationship with the hemisphere, particularly with leading countries such as Brazil. Canada needs to be more involved and visible in the region.
  • Canada needs to move on from its trade-driven agenda and engage in institution-building.

Civil Society Participation

  • Canada needs to devote more effort to informing its citizens about Americas foreign policy, with an emphasis on free, Internet-based information.
  • Civil society in Canada and the Americas needs to prioritize key issues to pursue and coordinate action on a national and hemispheric scale.


Civil Society Forum at the Fifth Summit of the Americas
Port of Spain, Trinidad & Tobago
April 15-16, 2009
Registration is now closed
This forum for civil society happens immediately before the Summit of the Americas. FOCAL will serve as a resource organization at the session on the “Impact of the Economic Crisis on Promoting and Protecting the Human Rights of all Citizens, in particular Migrants, Children and other Vulnerable Groups”.

The Fifth Summit of the Americas: What is Expected?

Event hosted by the Inter-American Dialogue, FOCAL’s sister organization in the United States, at the University of California Washington Center, as broadcasted on C-Span via Flash Video. It features Ricardo Lagos, former president of Chile; Jose Miguel Insulza, Secretary General of the Organization of American States; Luis Alberto Moreno, Inter-American Development Bank; and Mack McLarty, former Special Envoy for the Americas of the Clinton Administration.
View on C-Span 

Reports of the Hemispheric Think Tank Working Group 2009 Summit of the Americas

Will There Be Another Summit of the Americas? A Case for Reform
Carlo Dade, Canadian Foundation for the Americas

The Benefits of Implementing Trade Facilitation Measures in the Hemisphere: A Regional Forum
Denise Gregory, Centro Brasileiro de Relações Internacionais (CEBRI)

This is a joint project of FOCAL and the Inter-American Dialogue, with the support of the Canadian International Development Agency.


Summit Resources

FOCAL and the Summit of the Americas
This two-page brief provides the background of FOCAL’s interest and involvement in the Summit of the Americas.
English, French, Spanish

FOCAL’s Fifth Summit Follow-Up Project
Visit FOCAL’s Fifth Summit web page to find out what FOCAL has done and is doing and how to get involved.

Active Democracy: Citizen Network for the Implementation of Summit Mandates
Learn more about FOCAL’s current Summit Follow-Up project, supported by the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) and the International Development Resource Centre (IDRC).

Active Democracy: Citizen Network for the Implementation of Summit Mandates / Democracia Activa: red ciudadana por el cumplimiento gubernamental de las cumbres
Learn about the work of this civil society network in 23 countries of the Americas, of which FOCAL is a coordinating member.

Fifth Summit of the Americas Draft Declaration
English, Spanish, French


A View of the Hemisphere



Explore the link between governance and development.