By The Center for Binational Institutions *
The Summit of the Americas is an institutional convening where leaders from the Western Hemisphere come together to discuss issues of political, economic, and social relevance in the region. It takes place every three to four years; this year’s Summit took place from June 7th-10th in Los Angeles, California. The Summit started back in 1994 in the post-Cold War context; since then, there have been seven summits. The issues discussed are determined by a pre-approved agenda and are presented at plenary sessions, for participant countries to seek possible solutions and ways to move forward so that collective action can take place. At the end of each Summit, the leaders sign a declaration that summarizes the conclusions reached, as well as an action plan that outlines the steps that will be taken to address the issues by each country.
As a regional institution, the Summit of the Americas has provided a space to convene leaders to discuss diverse interests and points of view, transcending political figures and controversies. Out of the different Summits have come out relevant multilateral agreements on issues that shape international cooperation agendas. For example, out of this year’s Summit came out a joint statement between Canada, Mexico and the United States, where the three nations reaffirmed their commitment to address the root causes of irregular migration and poverty and to invest in the region, prioritizing development cooperation through a coordinated approach in order to create economic opportunities for all. Moreover, they highlighted a shared commitment to take action against climate change, to promote gender-based policies to empower women, as well as to advance the rights of indigenous populations. They also committed to support multilateral initiatives to develop and strengthen value chains and physical infrastructure in the Americas that generate employment and equitable growth.
The Summit is a relevant institution for it provides a mechanism for cooperation and a space to bring forward issues that affect the region as a whole. However, institutions are not sufficient without enforcement mechanisms and incentives to follow up on commitments made. For future convenings, it is important to identify the baseline in which agreements are being held, to hold countries accountable for the outcomes that result from their participation. As for the Center for Binational Institutions, we will continue to follow up closely on the actions and outputs that will result from the aforementioned joint statement.
* The Center for Binational Institutions’ mission is to promote a better understanding of the bilateral institutions between Mexico and the United States. It is a program by the U.S. – Mexico Foundation. The U.S.-Mexico Foundation is a binational non-profit organization dedicated to fostering bilateral cooperation and improving the understanding between the United States and Mexico by activating key people in the relationship that once were dormant. Twitter: @usmexicofound