March 8, 2011, 3:29 pm
By The Carter Center
The Andean-U.S. Dialogue Forum, a citizens’ forum created to identify and contribute solutions to multilateral problems and tensions among the Andean countries (Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela) and the United States, has issued a report outlining a common agenda to improve cooperation among the nations.
“Many of these countries have tensions with each other at the governmental level on issues such as climate change, trade, trafficking of illegal drugs, and definitions of democracy,” said Jennifer McCoy, director of The Carter Center’s Americas Program. “The idea was for citizens to come together and speak in an open manner, not constrained by diplomatic niceties. The result of those frank discussions is this report.”
Listen to Jennifer McCoy, director of the Carter Center’s Americas Program, discuss the challenges of developing the common agenda.
Click image below to watch video.
The Andean-U.S. Dialogue Forum is sponsored by The Carter Center and International IDEA to improve understanding and remove misperceptions among the six countries. Members include leaders of civic organizations, social movements, academic institutions, media organizations, the military, the private sector, parliaments, and former government officials.
The group found that the top priority for a common agenda is greater respect and mutual understanding among the countries. The report also identifies the urgent need to “de-militarize” and “de-narcotize” relations. Included in the report are analyses of the ties among the countries, snapshots of the internal dynamics of change inside each country, and capsule case studies of some of the policy innovations that could be shared from south to north.
Listen to Maryclen Stelling de Macareño, participant from Venezuela, explain what she feels is the role of forum members.
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Other key recommendations include:
•Promote inclusive trade and investment to include vulnerable and marginalized populations and to comply with environmental and intercultural standards.
•Approach the climate-change debate as an opportunity to diversify agendas.
•Attend to the high demand for personal security, but broaden the cooperation agenda beyond drugs to transnational organized crime, including trafficking of arms, people, and contraband, and laundering of money.
•Analyze the growing concentration of ownership in the media sector, the political role of the media, and the consequences this has for pluralism in the media.
Listen to Kristen Genovese, U.S.-based member of the forum, who traveled to Peru, talk about what impacted her most on her trip. One of the forum’s goals is to improve relations and deepen understanding between members, the public, and their governments. One way to achieve this goal is through country visits by U.S. forum members to each of the Andean countries. On these trips, members of the American group meet with high-level representatives from various sectors of society in each country.
“Our contribution has been to analyze these common problems with objectiveness and from a multi-sectoral view,” said Kristen Sample, International IDEA’s head of mission for the Andean region. “And because our members have access to their governments, we have channels of communication going in both directions to learn about government plans and also to give ideas to the governments. In this way, we hope to make an impact.”