The Road Ahead – Next Steps After the Ninth Summit of the Americas

On June 17, 2022, the Inter-American Dialogue hosted a public event with Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs Brian A. Nichols to discuss the achievements of the Ninth Summit of the Americas and inter-American cooperation moving forward. The event was moderated by Inter-American Dialogue President & CEO Rebecca Bill Chavez and featured more than half an hour of lively audience Q&A.

Following Chavez’s opening remarks and introduction, Nichols offered a detailed summary of the concrete agreements that emerged from the summit, highlighting that the theme of the summit was “building a sustainable, resilient, and equitable future” and that it “was focused on delivering progress on areas of importance to the average people of our hemisphere.” Nichols touched on a number of the most important breakthroughs at the summit, including the Los Angeles Declaration on Migration and Protection, a meeting between Joe Biden, Kamala Harris, Antony Blinken, and the leaders of Caricom and the Dominican Republic, and a pledge by the United States to train half a million health care workers over the next five years.

In response to a question from Chavez about the state of democracy in the Americas given multiple countries’ willingness to support outright authoritarian regimes, Nichols defended the Biden administration’s decision to not invite Cuba, Venezuela, and Nicaragua to the summit, citing the Inter-American Democratic Charter, signed at the Third Summit of the Americas in Quebec City, Canada, which maintains that a free and democratic political system is a requirement for participation in the Summit of the Americas process. He also noted that although the leaders of these countries were not at the summit, US representatives including Antony Blinken and himself met with civil society leaders representing the people of these nations.

In addition to his opening summary and response to Chavez’s question about democracy, Nichols answered a wide array of questions from the audience in attendance. Asked about the Americas Partnership for Economic Prosperity (APEP), Nichols explained that the United States is already in conversation with a number of other countries to create economic agreements that address topics including food security, supply chains, and growing countries’ middle classes. Furthermore, he emphasized the collaborative nature of APEP, stating that the United States wants the agreement “to be a partnership, not the United States just telling people what the outcome is going to be.”

Speaking on what is being done to address climate change in the Caribbean, Nichols mentioned a number of initiatives, including financing both energy transition and climate impact mitigation through multilateral development banks and the Renewable Energy for Latin America and the Caribbean network, which shares best practices and information among countries in the region. He specifically cited the example of the New Providence Economic Park in the Bahamas, which has reduced carbon emissions by 250,000 tons per year, as an example of a project made possible through Inter-American Development Bank funding.

Despite some of the recent criticism that the Organization of American States has received, Nichols commented that the organization still plays a vital role in the hemisphere, especially when it comes to defending democracy. “The OAS has been a key observer of elections in our hemisphere, a key provider of democracy and rule of law assistance to countries throughout our hemisphere. It’s the place where we can come together to discuss issues that affect our nations from the Arctic to the Antarctic and that’s a very important role,” Nichols explained.

Nichols was also optimistic about the working groups formed in conjunction with Caricom and the Dominican Republic. The three working groups, focusing on energy, food security, and finance, will be working with White House Senior Advisor for Energy Security, Amos Hochstein, the Department of State, and the Department of the Treasury respectively, and will begin meeting soon to make progress on areas of shared interest between the United States, Caricom, and the Dominican Republic.

Nichols was unperturbed by Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s absence from the summit, noting the large presence of Mexican officials, including Foreign Secretary Ebrard, as well as representatives from the country’s business sector and civil society at the summit. He also pointed hopefully towards AMLO’s visit to Washington in July, noting that “The range and depth of the relationship that we have with Mexico is really only matched by Canada […] In Mexico’s case, we have relations across an incredible range of issues. We’ll have an opportunity to review and discuss those as well as prepare for the North American Leaders Summit, which will take place in Mexico towards the end of this year.”

Among the many other topics addressed by Nichols during the Q&A portion of the event is the US role in fighting corruption across the hemisphere. Not only has the United States engaged in a variety of anti-corruption operations, such as providing training and support to institutions focused on rooting out corruption and utilizing visa suspensions to pressure corrupt officials, but under the Biden administration it will seek to bolster multilateral anti-corruption efforts in the region as well, such as those of the OAS and the United Nations.

Nichols concluded the event by encouraging viewers to go to either the White House or State Department website to look over the various documents and agreements that came out of the Ninth Summit of the Americas and show the progress made during the summit which will drive inter-American cooperation on shared challenges moving forward. 


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