Summit of the Americas

Declaration of Santiago and its relationship with the Ibero-American Summit
of Presidents of Supreme Justice Tribunals And Courts

Declaration of Caracas, March 1998

II Summit of the Americas
Santiago de Chile, April 18 and 19, 1998

Declaration of Santiago

For the purpose of supporting the efforts of the Judicial Power and as a result of the relations existing between the Declaration of Santiago, subscribed during April, 1998 by the Heads of State and Government of the countries represented at the II Summit of the Americas, and the Declaration of Caracas, final document of the Iberoamerican Summit of Presidents of Courts and Supreme Courts of Justice, this Highest Court of the Republic of Venezuela has prepared a paper which relates to both declarations and comments are made concerning those aspects in which the administration of justice is compromised.

Declaration of Santiago Declaration of Caracas
We, the Heads of State and Government of the countries of the Americas, democratically elected, have gathered in Santiago, Chile, for the purpose of continuing the dialogue and to strengthen the cooperation we initiated in Miami during December, 1994. Since then, significant progress has been achieved in the formulation and execution of joint projects and programs to take advantage of the great opportunities afforded us. We reaffirm our desire to continue this important enterprise, which requires progressive nationalistic efforts and dynamic international cooperation.

The strengthening of democracy, political dialogue, economic stability, the progress towards social justice, the level of relation of our commercial opening policies and the desire to promote a permanent process of hemispheric integration, have resulted in greater maturity of our relations. We shall double our efforts to continue the reforms destined to improve the living conditions of the Americas and to achieve a joint community. For this purpose, we have decided that education should be a central theme and of particular importance in our deliberations. We approve the attached Plan of Action, compromising our efforts to carry out the initiatives therein contained.

Since our meeting in Miami, we have achieved true economic benefits in the Americas as a result of a higher level of commercial opening, transparency of economic regulations, solid economic policies consistent with a market economy, as well as with the efforts made by the private sector to increase their competitiveness. Although some countries of the region have been affected by financial pressures and others economic difficulties, together with the severe economic setbacks encountered by certain nations in other regions, the general trend of the Americas has been marked by a quicker economic growth, less rates of inflation, greater opportunities and confidence upon entering into the global market. To a great extent, these achievements are due to the sustained efforts made on behalf of the cooperation carried out by our countries for the purposes of promoting prosperity through greater integration and opening in the economic sphere. New associations have been created while those existing have been strengthened and expanded. The sub-regional and bilateral integration and free trade agreements are playing a positive role. We are confident that the Area of Free Trade in the Americas (ALCA) will improve the welfare of our populations, including that of the economically disadvantage populations in our respective countries.

The hemispheric integration constitutes a necessary complement to the national policies in order to overcome those unsettled problems and obtain a greater level of development. An integration process in its broadest sense, will allow, on the basis of respect for cultural identities, to create a connection of common values and interests which will help us towards these goals.

Globalization offers great opportunities for progress of our countries and opens new fields of cooperation for the hemispheric community. Nevertheless, it may also increase differences between countries and the interior of our societies. Firmly dedicated to take advantage of its benefits and to confront its challenges, we shall give special attention to the most vulnerable countries and social groups of our Hemisphere.

Education constitutes the decisive factor for political, social, cultural and economic development of our populations. We agree to provide all inhabitants of the Americas access to preschool, primary, secondary and higher education, and will make learning a permanent process. We shall place science and technology at the service of education in order to assure greater levels of knowledge and so that the educators can attain the highest levels of improvement. The Plan of Action attached to this Declaration establishes the objectives and goals we intend to carry out and the action to fulfill them. To the achieve our goals in agreed terms, we confirm our commitment to invest greater resources in this important area, as well as to promote the participation of civil society in the educational development.

The decisions of our Ministers of education at the Conference of Merida, Mexico, during February of this year, are in answer to our desire to promote joint and concrete initiatives destined to improve the access to education with equity, quality, pertinence and efficiency. To continue and consolidate our resolutions, we have decided to hold a new Conference in the city of Brasilia, Brazil, during the month of July of this year. (Emphasis by the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice).

Comment: In the Declaration of Caracas during March, 1998, the Presidents of the Iberoamerican Courts and Supreme Courts of Justice "convinced of the necessity to motivate and promote the specialized training of judicial officers ..." established a series of policies and actions, all directed towards achieving effective judicial education and training, through a permanent learning process. Also, in view of the fact that professional improvement cannot be seen as a fact isolated from other aspects discussed during the Summit, in the other areas policies or actions oriented towards the guaranty of suitable education and training of the judicial officer were established.

Today we have instructed our Ministers responsible for Trade to initiate the negotiations corresponding to the ALCA in accordance with the Ministerial Declaration of San Jose, of March, 1998. We confirm our determination to conclude the ALCA negotiations no later than the year 2005 and to achieve concrete advances by the end of this century. The ALCA shall agreement will be balanced, broad and coherent with the World Trade Organization (WTO), and shall constitute a sole commitment.

We have observed with satisfaction the preparatory work carried out by the Responsible Trade Ministers during the last three years, which has strengthened our commercial policies, has promoted understanding of our economic goals and facilitated dialogue among all the participating countries. We appreciate the important contribution of the Interamerican Development Bank (IDB), the Organization of American States (OAS) and the Economic Commission of the United Nations for Latin America and the Caribbean (CEPAL), in its capacity as Tripartite Committee.

The ALCA negotiation process will be transparent and will take into account the differences among the levels of development and the size of the economies of the Americas, for the purpose of generating opportunities for the full participation of all the countries. We encourage every sector of the civil society to participate and to contribute in the process in a constructive way, by means of our respective means for dialogue and consultation, as well as through the presentation of their points of view through the mechanisms created in the ALCA negotiation process. We believe that economic integration, investment and free trade are key factors towards elevating the standard of living, improving labor conditions within the Americas and to achieve better environmental protection. These subjects shall be taken into consideration as we advance in the economic integration process of the Americas.

The region has achieved significant advances both in monetary and fiscal policy, as well as in price stability and the opening of our economies. The volatility of the capital markets confirms our decision to strengthen the banking supervision in the Hemisphere, as well as to establish rules in the area of disclosure and revelation of information for banks.

Subject: Autonomy and Independence of the Judicial Power.
Policy 1: "In order to guarantee the judicial independence it is necessary... the permanent instruction of its administrative and jurisdictional staff."

Subject: Validity, Promotion, Protection and Respect of Human Rights.
Policy 3: "It is fundamental to guarantee... the education of the judicial officers in the effective protection of ..." human rights.

Subject: Alternative Resolution of Conflicts.
Action 5: "Education for the negotiation of conflicts, both for citizens as well as for those participating in each mechanism".

Subject: Fight against corruption.
Policy 3: "Strengthening the process of selecting judicial officers...".

Subject: Environmental Protection and Sustained Development.
Policy 1: "Supporting the instruction of judges on the subject of environment..."

Subject: Drug-trafficking and its Consequences.
Action 1: "Impelling the continuos specialization of judicial officers in relation with the treatment that must be given to drug-trafficking crimes."

The strength and sense of representative democracy reside in the active participation of the individuals at every level of civic life. The democratic culture should reach all levels of our population. We will emphasize education for democracy and will promote all necessary action so that government institutions are converted into more participating structures. We agree to strengthen the capacities of the regional and local governments, when applicable, and to promote a more active participation of civil society. (Emphasis by the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice).

Comment: During discussions at the Summit, the Presidents of Courts and Supreme Courts of Justice referred to the importance of civil participation, indicating, among other aspects, the convenience of the reform presently encountered by the judicial process in Iberoamerica, in which the oral form and the civil participation are conceived as elements that shall contribute to guarantee the effectiveness of the administration of justice.

The respect and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms of all individuals constitute a basic concern of our governments. Upon commemoration of the fiftieth anniversary of the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man and of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, we agree in the need to promote the ratification and implementation of the international agreements destined to protect them and to keep strengthening the pertinent national and international institutions. We coincide that a free press performs a fundamental role in this matter and we reaffirm the importance of guaranteeing freedom of speech, information and opinion. We recently constituted special Relator for Freedom of Speech, in the framework of the Organization of American States (OAS). (Emphasis by the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice).

Comment: The subjects of human rights, in its broad sense, and that of the Iberoamerican penitentiary crisis were object of analysis at the Summit, when the Presidents of Courts and Supreme Courts of Justice recognized "the need of establishing an institutional culture that guarantees citizens equality, dignity, non- discrimination and solidarity ..." and agree to formulate a group of policies "directed to promote the judicial protection of Human Rights", as well as the means to develop them. Likewise, they recognize "the importance of attending to the penitentiary crisis which affects our countries", to which solution they also established several policies and actions.

It is important to stress that during discussion of the subject concerning the Autonomy and Independence of the Judicial Power the Presidents of Courts and Supreme Courts of Justice indicated the negative influence which in some cases the media has on the administration of justice, by creating different opinions which in some manner have an influence upon the judicial decision to be made, either as to its content or when it would be issued.

We are convinced that an independent, efficient and effective justice performs an essential role in the consolidation process of democracy, strengthens its institutionalization, guarantees the equality of all citizens, and contributes to economic development. For this reason we will strengthen our justice policies and impel those reforms necessary to promote legal and judicial cooperation. To this end we will strengthen the national entities dedicated to studies of the administration of justice and we will support the establishment of a hemispheric center for studies on this matter. (Emphasis by the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice).

Comment: It was explicitly discussed and the central point of debate at the Summit, that relative to the Autonomy and Independence of the Judicial Power as well as the Collaboration among Public Powers, since these matters "constitute indispensable premises on its effective performance". Therefrom 7 policies and 4 actions were established in the Declaration of Caracas for the purpose of an indepth analysis of the autonomy and independence of the Judicial Power as well as to its relations with other Public Powers.

Subject: Autonomy and Independence of the Judicial Power and Collaboration among Public Powers.
Policy 7: "Promoting citizen awareness on the urgent need of the existence of an independent and suitable Judicial Power".

Subject: Validity, Promotion, Protection and Respect of Human Rights.
Action 3: "Establishing mechanisms of cooperation between the Judicial Power and citizen organizations".

We will combat every form of discrimination in the Hemisphere. Equality of rights and opportunities between women and men for the purpose of securing a dynamic participation of the woman in every field of work in our countries constitutes a priority task. We will promote full integration of the indigenous populations and of other vulnerable groups into political and economic life, respecting the characteristics and expressions which strengthen their cultural identity. Special efforts will be taken in order to guarantee human rights of all migrants, including migrant workers and their families. (Emphasis by the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice).

Overcoming poverty is still the biggest challenge confronted by our Hemisphere. We are aware that the positive growth observed in the Americas during the last years has not solved the problems of lack of equity and social exclusion. We are determined to eliminate the barriers which deny poor persons the access to adequate nutrition, social services, a sound environment, loans and legal titles to their properties. We will hand out major support to small enterprises, will promote the fundamental labor provisions recognized by the International Labor Organization (ILO) and will use new technologies in order to improve health conditions of every family in the Americas, with technical support of the Panamerican Health Organization (PHO), obtaining a better level of equity and sustained development. (Emphasis by the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice).

Subject: Validity, Promotion, Protection and Respect of Human Rights.
Policy 4: "It is recognized that indigenous populations and other minority groups are recipients of Human Rights".
Action 4: "Urge Judges to apply the accepted criteria of Human Rights' protection incorporating the particularities of the rights of minority groups of each country."

Subject: Environmental Protection and Sustained Development.
Policy 2: "Recognizing the right of each individual to enjoy an adequate environment for his/her fullest development"

With profound satisfaction, we confirm that Peace, an essential value for human coexistence, is a reality in the Hemisphere. We emphasize the creation of Central America as an area of peace, democracy and development and recognize the efforts for the elimination of land mines and the rehabilitation of its victims. We will promote trust and security among our countries through measures such as those indicated in the Declarations of Santiago and San Salvador on Measures of Promotion of Trust and Security. We encourage the pacific solution of conflicts. (Emphasis of the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice).

Comment: Although the topic does not constitute part of the humanitarian and the pacific solution of conflicts, during the Summit, the Presidents of Iberoamerican Courts and Supreme Courts of Justice discussed the subject of Alternative Resolution of Conflicts as mechanisms to "effectively guarantee the access to justice", thus contributing to social peace upon implementation of the conciliation, the resolution of conflicts according to equity and the internal and international arbitration as valid forms of negotiation of conflicts between parties.

We will give a new impulse to the fight against corruption, money laundering, terrorism, weapons trade, and problems of drugs, including its improper use. Likewise, we will work jointly in an effort to see that delinquents do not find a safe refuge anywhere in the Hemisphere. We are determined to continue this path. (Emphasis by the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice).

When an alliance against drugs is made and the Hemispheric Strategy against drugs applied, we welcome the beginning of formal negotiations during the Interamerican Commission for Control of Drug Abuse (CICAD) meeting, which is to be held on May 4 of this year in Washington, D.C. in the framework of the Organization of American States (OAS), for the purpose of establishing an objective process on the multilateral evaluation of the action and cooperation destined to prevent and combat all aspects of drug problems and related crimes, which is to be based upon principles of sovereignty, territorial integrity of the States, joint responsibility and with an integrated and balanced focus. (Emphasis by the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice).

Comment: The topic of corruption and drug-trafficking were object of debate at the Summit, in which the Presidents of Iberoamerican Courts and Supreme Courts of Justice "being aware that corruption in its different forms and kinds is a phenomenon which weakens the legitimacy of the democratic system and the stability of the institutions...", recognized "the need of combating it in an active, firm and constant way", for which reason they established policies and actions which allow to achieve such purpose, among which is emphasized the strengthening of the selection process of judicial officers and the creation of an Iberoamerican Judicial Officers Code of Ethics. Likewise, and "before the importance of promoting the international cooperation on the fight against organized delinquency in the drug-trafficking matter...", they agreed to formulate several policies as well as to establish the respective actions for the purpose of confronting drug-trafficking, which was declared in the final document of the Summit "as a crime against humanity, inasmuch as it transcends the jurisdiction to each Court", for which reason the Declaration of Caracas of March, 1998 promotes the creation of a Supranational Criminal Court in order to hear those cases which exceed the jurisdiction of the local courts.
We will strengthen the national, hemispheric and international efforts to protect the environment as a basis of sustained development which allows all humans a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature. The commitments assumed at the Summit of Miami as well as at the Summit of Sustained Development held in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, constitute a solid foundation to intensify our actions. As Parties to the framework Agreement of the United Nations referring to Climatic Change, we underline the importance of working jointly in order to advance in compliance of the agreement made during the Conference of Kyoto, Japan, as well as to promote its ratification in our countries. Likewise, we will cooperate closely in the preparation of the Parties' Conference to be held during November of this year in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Emphasis by the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice).

We recognize that the development of energetic links between our countries and the intensification of trade in the energy sector, strengthen and impel the integration of the Americas. The energetic integration based upon competitive and transparent activities and in accordance with national conditions and objectives, contributes to the sustained development of our nations and to the improvement of the quality of life of our populations with the least impact to the environment. (Emphasis by the Venezuelan Supreme Court of Justice).

Comment: The environmental protection and its sustained development were one of the subjects treated during the Summit and in relation with it the Presidents of Iberoamerican Courts and Supreme Courts of Justice agreed "to legally protect the environment in order to guarantee sustained development of our society...". On this subject they agree to arrange meetings to disclose the importance of preserving the environment as well as to establish a net of information concerning the commission of environmental crimes and to facilitate the creation of supranational courts which supervise the protection of the environment.

In recognition of the importance and positive role that the hemispheric institutions have performed, particularly the Organization of American States (OAS), we instruct our respective Ministers to examine the manner of strengthening and modernizing the aforementioned institutions.

We reiterate our desire to keep intensifying the interhemispheric dialogue and cooperation within the framework of friendship and solidarity which motivate our nations.

Subject: Validity, Promotion, Protection and Respect of Human Rights.
Policy 2: "It is fundamental to promote the full exercise of Human Rights as a mechanism to strengthen democratic systems".

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