The Caribbean Conference of Churches (CCC) extends its best wishes to the Government and people of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, the Governments of the Member States of the Caribbean Community (CARICOM), the General Secretariat of the Organisation of American States (OAS) and all other supporting institutions for the successful hosting of the Fifth Summit of the Americas.
The event is especially significant for this region for it is the first time that the Summit will be hosted by a country of the Caribbean. In this regard, we commend the cooperation which has been demonstrated to date by other territories to ensure the success of this Summit.
The primary purpose of the Summits of the Americas is to bring together the 34 democratically elected Heads of State and Government from South, Central and North America and the Caribbean to discuss and exchange views on the most effective solutions to the common political, economic, social and security challenges confronting the region and to elaborate a vision for the future development of the region of the Americas. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life of all citizens of the Americas.
According to publications issued by the OAS, notable achievements of previous Summits have included the facilitation of affordable antiretroviral treatment for persons living with HIV/AIDS; the creation of the Institute for Connectivity of the Americas and implementation of the Connectivity Agenda for the Americas to facilitate hemispheric integration through information and communication technologies; adoption of the Inter-American Convention against Terrorism and close collaboration among OAS Member States within the framework of the Inter-American Committee against Terrorism (CICTE); adoption of the Declaration on Security in the Americas which established a new, multi-dimensional approach to hemispheric security to encompass emerging threats such as international terrorism, drug trafficking, money laundering, illegal arms dealing, institutional corruption and organised crime, and other problems endangering human security such as poverty, disease and natural disasters; institutionalisation of Meetings of Ministers of Justice and Attorneys General to strengthen judicial systems in the region and the creation of the Justice Studies Center of the Americas (JSCA) and the creation of the Inter-Parliamentary Forum of the Americas.
It is reported that there have also been advances in the areas of human rights, and the rights of indigenous peoples, promotion of the principles of corporate social responsibility, the provision of support to smaller countries in the process of economic integration, education and sustainable development.
The Caribbean Conference of Churches is hopeful that Heads of State and Government attending the Fifth Summit will seize the opportunity at this critical moment, to engage in genuine discussion on the real problems facing the peoples of the Americas.
We remain encouraged by early public declarations from the host Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago that this Summit must produce results that are recognised and felt by the average man and woman in the street and that it must result in tangible and practical outcomes for the peoples of the Americas, especially the most vulnerable.
The Honourable Paula Gopee Scoon, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, in her Statement in April 2008 at the Special Meeting of the Permanent Council of the OAS to present the Concept Paper for the Fifth Summit, reiterated that the success of the Fifth Summit will be defined by three factors: (i) it must reconnect with the people of the hemisphere by developing responses to their needs and make a positive difference in their lives; (ii) it must forge a consensus around a viable implementation strategy that engages the regional and national institutions; and (iii) it must serve to renew the commitment to deeper integration and cooperation among member states and institutions.
The Caribbean Conference of Churches urges the Heads of State and Government of the Caribbean Community, in particular, to take advantage of the opportunity presented by the chairmanship of the Summit by the CARICOM Member State of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago, to ensure that the concerns of this region are raised at the meeting.
In keeping with the stated objective by the host Government that this Summit must be people-centred and inclusive, we also urge that particular attention be given to the recommendations, concerns and views that have been expressed by civil society, the business community and the young people of the region at various sub-regional and hemispheric consultations convened in preparation for the Summit.
On a related matter, the CCC has noted the attention being paid to the situation of the homeless, in preparation for the arrival of the visiting Heads of State and Government and their delegations.
We hope that this is not a singular undertaking and that it will be sustained as part of a larger plan to attend to the long-term needs facing the society.
Moreover, we urge that any action involving vulnerable groups, in particular the homeless, be conducted in the spirit of charity and compassion due to all people having regard to their inherent dignity as created in the image and likeness of God.
The Caribbean Conference of Churches will be represented at the Civil Society Forum of the Fifth Summit of the Americas by Mr. Gerard A.J. Granado, General Secretary, Mrs. Karen Ambo Christiani, Programme Officer, Human and Social Development Unit and Ms. Carla Thomas, Special Assistant to the General Secretary, International Relations and Public Affairs.
The CCC, on behalf of its constituency, will seek to highlight and bring a faith-based perspective to the issues of deep concern to its member churches which will be debated at the Summit.