President Obama will be in Panama April 10–11 for the seventh Summit of the Americas, and his top advisers are seeking ways for governments in the Western Hemisphere to increase their engagement with civil society groups as part of the proceedings.
“We see this as an opportunity to work closely with partners throughout the Americas to make sure that our summit upholds a common commitment to democracy, human rights, and inclusive economic development,” Ricardo Zuñiga, senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council, told reporters in an April 7 conference call.
Civil society groups can include nongovernmental organizations, professional associations and religious organizations who work to improve citizen engagement in their societies.
National Security Council spokesman Ben Rhodes said the president will attend an April 10 roundtable meeting with civil society leaders from across the region, “speaking to the regional diversity of civil society and the shared commitment among different leaders within the hemisphere to civil society and engagement.”
Zuñiga said other items on the U.S. summit agenda include discussions on energy, democratic governance, health, the environment, security and migration.
“These are issues that affect the daily lives of citizens of the Americas, and that’s why we wanted to make sure that we have an agenda that is more than diplomacy; it’s about practical matters that affect our citizens,” Zuñiga said.