Latin America and the Caribbean or "the Americas"?

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the United Nations. Secretary-General, António Guterres, has initiated a "global conversation" on the future of the UN. The ongoing pandemic of Covid-19 has made physical meetings impossible and overwhelms us all with new responsibilities and demands in the face of its enormous health, social and economic impact.

In this difficult context, a document was submitted to the UN as the result of a dialogue of "the Americas". Concerned that this is the only view from our region reaching the UN, and worried about the very biased opinions it contains, which undervalue the role of women and social movements, among other questionable recommendations, such as the promotion of a closer alliance between the Un and the OAS, a joint letter was sent to the UN, ECLAC, CARICOM, GRULAC and the co-sponsors of the document.

(The replies received are to be found below)


TO: Fabrizio Hochschild, UN Under-Secretary-General Special Adviser on Preparations for UN75.

CC: Sponsors of the “UN75 Regional Dialogue for the Americas”

CC: Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of ECLAC

CC: Ambassador H. Elizabeth Thompson, Chair of CARICOM

CC: Embajador Néstor Popolizio, Chair of GRULAC

June 4, 2020

Dear Mr. Hochschild,

In our attempts to follow the “global conversation” about the future of the UN convened by Secretary.General António Guterres as part of the 75th anniversary celebration, we have read with concern a document titled “UN75 Regional Dialogue for the Americas: Toward Innovation and Renewal of Regional and Global Governance.” The document, of which we couldn't find a Spanish-language version, is presented as a “Dialogue Summary” of voices from “the Americas”. It purports to bring “regional perspectives and actionable ideas” into the UN 75 Leaders Summit.

The document is signed in the website of the Washington-based Stimson Center by three officers of this institution but the PDF version being distributed by the same website only credits the co-sponsoring organizations: Stimson Center, Organization of American States, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, Global Challenges Foundation, Igarapé Institute, adelphi, Together First and UN2020.

As the document synthesizes “on a not-for-attribution-basis” inputs into an on-line dialogue we are led to believe that the co-sponsors, which include an important inter-governmental organization and large civil society coalitions might also endorse its content, which if true would be highly problematic.

We have not seen other published regional inputs, and therefore, as Latin American and Caribbean citizens concerned with Human Rights, sustainable development and multilateralism we feel compelled to call the attention to the many political and ideological biases contained in this “summary” and its non-correspondence to any kind of regional consensus.

First, “the Americas” is not a UN-recognized region but a particular political cross-regional construction. Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC) is the region recognized by the UN, represented by the GRULAC group of countries and assisted by the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), which has a fluid dialogue and regular consultations with civil society, particularly in the context of the Latin-American and Caribbean Forum on Sustainable Development - the main follow-up and review space on Agenda 2030 implementation in the region. Any dialogue can, of course, bring participants from different regions and claim to be “eurasian” or “francafrican” or from “the Americas” but such gatherings among very asymmetrical components have long been recognized as an expression of center-periphery or dominant-subordinate power relations.

Furthermore, one of the sponsors, the OAS, to which the UN is asked to establish a closer relationship, is an intergovernmental organization largely dominated by one country, does not include all UN member states of the LAC region and is internally polarized along geo-political lines, as evidenced in the recent split vote to designate a secretary general, ending a long tradition of consensus.

In its segment on Global Governance the document describes the OAS as maintaining “a greater commitment to representative democracy” while “the UN seems to give greater emphasis to principles of sovereignty and non-intervention”. The reason ascribed to this is that “a substantial number of its Member States are still autocracies”, is a major distortion of facts and ignores the regional reality of “illiberal democracies” in several countries of the region, as was shown by dramatic episodes of massive protests in several countries in the months preceding the Covid-19 pandemic.

To downplay the value of sovereignty and non-intervention and then only mention one country, Venezuela, as example of a situation where “civil rights have been attacked and severely reduced” is a completely unbalanced view of the region and evokes fears of intervention that Latin Americans dread. Even those governments that are most critical of the current Venezuelan government have expressed their rejection of foreign intervention and military solutions to an internal crisis.

In that context, it is a severe omission that the chapter on “Promoting Human Rights, Justice, and Humanitarian Action” does not even mention the Escazú Agreement (Regional Agreement on Access to Information, Public Participation and Justice in Environmental Matters in Latin America and the Caribbean), which has been signed by 22 countries of the LAC region and has ECLAC as its technical secretariat.

For a document issued or endorsed by peacekeeping and Human Rights institutions it is surprising that it ignores completely some recent major UN achievements in the LAC region, such as the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala (Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala, CICIG), while in its section on migration, the movement of people is not seen as a source of hope for migrants, or of additional revenue for their countries of origin, but as “an additional source of insecurity”. Migration out of Venezuela is the only development mentioned and is identified as creating “cross-border instability and violence”, without a thought about the human rights situation along the border that divides the LAC region from the rest of “the Americas”.

Finally, in a region that is witnessing the massive emergence of women demanding their rights alongside workers, adding “the right to care” as a dimension of social security and challenging long established “machismo” with the promotion and formal recognition of sexual and reproductive rights, including the right to safe and free abortion, the document only mentions twice the word “women”. And in both cases it does so after the adverb “including”, grouping women with other actors like youth and the private sector. “Workers” are never mentioned as actors.

Instead of bringing regional concerns and consensus to the attention of the UN, the document, if its suggestions were to be implemented, undermines the role of the United Nations in Latin America and the Caribbean, downplays the contribution of women as one more of the “marginalized groups” needing to be empowered, exacerbates geopolitical conflicts, demonizes migrants and ignores workers. This is clearly NOT the United Nations that citizens from Latin America and the Caribbean want.

In light of the above and committed to further add views from the Global South to the ongoing “global conversation” initiated by the Secretary-General, we urge the UN to be more careful about how regional dialogues are conducted and taken note of, as well as about the confusing use of the UN name and logo by self-designated “partnerships”. And we urge the civil society organizations listed as co-sponsors of these suggestions to clarify if they endorse this document or merely supported a consultation process and, if this is indeed the case, to make efforts to ensure that the rich and diverse civil society views from the LAC region are adequately represented in the conversation.


Roberto Bissio, Social Watch, Uruguay

Iara Pietricovsky de Oliveira, co-directora, INESC, Brasil

Jorge Carpio, Director Ejecutivo, INPADE FOCO Foro Ciudadano de Participación por la Justicia y los Derechos Humanos, Argentina

Nicolás Rosenthal, Director Ejecutivo, Fundación Protestante Hora de Obrar, Argentina-Uruguay-Paraguay

Stefano Prato, Society for International Development, Italia

Emilia Reyes,  Equidad de Género: Ciudadanía, Trabajo y Familia, México

Chee Yoke Ling, director of Third World Network, Malaysia

Horacio Verbitsky, periodista, Argentina

María Graciela Cuervo, Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), República Dominicana

Miguel Santibáñez, Fundación Agenda Ciudadana, Chile

Héctor Béjar, abogado y sociólogo, Perú

Jorge Alejandro Gaggero, economista, miembro del CELS (Centro de Estudios Legales y Sociales), Argentina

Alejandro Aguirre Batres, Director de la Coordinación de ONG y Cooperativas CONGCOOP, Guatemala.

Laura Becerra Pozos, Directora de DECA, Equipo Pueblo, (México)

Nathalie Seguin Tovar, Coordinadora General, Freshwater Action Network Mexico (FANMex)

Esperanza Delgado Herrera, Fundación Mexicana para la Planeación Familiar, AC MEXFAM México

Marilea Reynosa, Coordinadora Civil (CC), Nicaragua

Pablo José Martínez Osés, Colectivo La Mundial, España

Eugenia Mata, Iniciativas para el Desarrollo de la Mujer Oaxaqueña AC (IDEMO), Mexico

Hanaa Edwar, Iraqi Al Amal Association, Iraq

Svetlana Aslanyan, Center for the Development of Civil Society, Armenia

Alexandrina Wong, Women Against Rape Inc., Antigua

Mildred Mata, Núcleo de Apoyo a la Mujer, República Dominicana

Caribbean Solidarity Network, Toronto, Canada

Kimalee Phillip, Caribbean Solidarity Network, Canada/Grenada


18 de Junio de 2020

Estimado señor Bissio y colegas,

Muchas gracias por su correo electrónico y por informarme sobre estas inquietudes.

Como saben, este evento no fue organizado por nosotros. Hemos transmitido sus comentarios a los organizadores y les hemos pedido que le respondan.

La iniciativa UN75 está destinada a ser abierta e inclusiva para todos. Estamos buscando activamente una diversidad de voces de todas las regiones y ámbitos de la vida. Para facilitar la participación de las personas, creamos materiales de marca disponibles públicamente (que no incorporan el logotipo de la ONU, que está reservado para actividades oficiales).

Ha habido varios diálogos de UN75 que involucran a grupos de América Latina y el Caribe, aunque ciertamente no tantos como nos gustaría. Por lo tanto, le animo a que celebre más eventos (nuestro kit de herramientas de diálogo se puede encontrar en y que pida a las personas que compartan sus puntos de vista a través de nuestra encuesta (


Fabrizio Hochschild


18 de Junio de 2020

Estimado señor Hochschild,

Agradezco muy sinceramente su respuesta y clarificaciones que transmitiré a todas las personas y organizaciones que expresaron su preocupación. Ha sido, precisamente, nuestro compromiso con las Naciones Unidas y su futuro lo que nos ha motivado a escribirle. Los co-patrocinadores nos han hecho saber que no apoyan todas las ideas expresadas en el documento, el cual, por otra parte, explicita que éstas se han incluído “on a not-forattribution-basis”. Sin que nadie asuma su contenido, el documento se vuelve una intervención anónima con la cual no vale la pena debatir.

Continuaremos comprometidos con un multilateralismo basado en la justicia, la sustentabilidad y el respeto a los derechos humanos y seguiremos asumiendo la autoría de los puntos de vista que hacemos llegar a las Naciones Unidas por los mejores canales disponibles.


Roberto Bissio


Dear Mr. Bissio,

Thank you for your letter which has been shared with all partners of The Americas Regional Dialogue. The Stimson Center, Organization of American States, the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict, Global Challenges Foundation, Igarapé Institute, adelphi, Together First, and UN2020 acknowledge and appreciate your feedback.

We would like to clarify several points that we believe were incorrectly interpreted in your letter.

The UN75 Dialogue for the Americas is one of several hundred dialogue meetings that have been organized by independent civil society actors around the world under the UN75 heading (which is available to use for all of those organizing similar meetings) on the Future we want, the UN we need. This particular meeting was organized in collaboration with partners from the Americas region and outside, aiming to provide input to the UN75 global dialogue led by the UN@75 Office. In addition, it aimed to refine and promote ideas on global governance reform by complementing a series of Global and Regional Policy dialogues over the last year, as well as a series of civil society consultations conducted by the networks Together First and UN2020.

The meeting was meant to take place in person in Bogotá on 19-21 March but had to move online at short notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The organizers tried their hardest to be inclusive of as many voices as possible from the region despite the exceptionally difficult and unprecedented circumstances of the early stages of the global COVID-19 lockdown (we have sent you an invitation letter to attend the dialogue on February 19th as well, see attached). We invited over 200 people from diverse constituencies to attend the online dialogue of which approximately 70 confirmed their participation and contributed to the discussions. Furthermore, a link to request participation was available on the Stimson Center webpage of the event, providing any actor with the opportunity to contact the organizers. Among the participants, we had representatives from civil society, governments, regional organizations, and UN entities (including UN ECLAC). The methodology of the online consultation provided the participants with multiple opportunities to contribute their views on the respective thematic segments (a week each) during the webinars and via email.

The summary of the dialogue (to which you refer in your letter) represents merely a synthesis of views collected from the participants who voluntarily committed to attend and share their experiences in a free and open space the organizers have provided. The full list of participants is publicly available. It was never intended nor did it claim to be more than a synthesis of the discussion. Specifically, it does not claim to be an all-encompassing representation of the views of civil society in Latin America, nor does it stem primarily from the research and opinions of the organizers. As noted on the first page of the dialogue summary:

“The dialogue serves as a platform to open the conversation around key issues and questions on the future of multilateralism and its impact at the global, regional, and national levels in the Americas. The inputs have been synthesized—on a not-for-attribution-basis—and consolidated in this summary report, with the following objectives:

  • To shed light on the role of the United Nations in the Americas and its collaboration with regional organizations (such as the Organization of American States) on issue areas such as peace and security, sustainable development, climate governance, humanitarian action, justice, and human rights.
  • To offer policy recommendations on how to build on successes and strengthen multilateralism through the United Nations, Organization of American States, and other regional actors that engage the UN system.”

The process of consolidating the summary was led by the Stimson Center and GPPAC based on the content of webinar recordings, which are available online, and email submissions, and was reviewed by the partners. Participants were given one week to comment on the draft of this document and make any amendments they desired.

We believe the summary document is a true reflection of the conversation, and we will not be disassociating ourselves from the document or the process. This is not to say we endorse every idea within the document, but that we do not understand it to be the sort of document where endorsement is applicable: we believe that the document is a fair reporting of a conversation that was held.

We did not receive any complaints regarding the process or the document before receiving your letter. Until now, we were not made aware that the signatories of the sign-on letter had these concerns. If concerns had been raised as feedback prior to or after the release of the report, they would have been taken seriously, and we would most certainly have acted upon any concerns or feedback had we received any.

The UN has invited people worldwide, from across the political spectrum, both its allies and its fiercest critics, to engage in the UN75 dialogues. The UN's UN75 website makes copious tools and resources available to allow any individuals and organizations to hold dialogues in various forms, and some of the partner organizations have been making considerable efforts to raise awareness of this fact. Together First conducted extensive public outreach encouraging individuals and organizations to hold their own dialogues and encouraging them to get in touch should they wish to partner on delivering a dialogue. Granted, the unprecedented severity of the global Covid-19 crisis caused many plans for in-person dialogues to be canceled and disrupted, but the offer to facilitate such dialogues remained and still remains.

Finally, we note and respect the substantial political objections that you put forward in your letter, and welcome discussion on such differences in opinion, just as we welcome different opinions at all dialogue meetings that we participate in or facilitate. While we regret not being informed earlier about your concerns to be able to address them in the regional report in question, the political critique you offer is the very type of deep engagement we welcome as a part of the UN75 dialogues. Therefore, we encourage you and other organizations and coalitions to initiate your own UN75 dialogues that would capture and reflect a broader variety of opinions and perspectives. Alternatively, you can simply send those thoughts directly to the UN75 process via one of the various other consultative mechanisms UN75 has set up.


Cristina Petcu | Research Associate | Just Security 2020 Program, The Stimson Center and Coordinator, UN75 Regional Dialogue for The Americas

and the partner organizations:

Adriana Abdenur | Coordinator | Peace & Security Division, Igarapé Institute

Yadira Soto | Senior Advisor | Organization of American States

Darynell Rodriguez Torres | Executive Director | Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict

Lukas Rüttinger | Senior Project Manager | adelphi

Magnus Jiborn | Head of Research | Global Challenges Foundation

Fred Carver | Head of Policy | Together First, UNA-UK

Fergus Watt | Coordinator | UN2020

Richard Ponzio | Director | Just Security 2020 Program, The Stimson Center


Dear co-sponsors of “The Americas Regional Dialogue”,

Thanks for your reply to our letter, which I will forward to all signatores.

We had read in the Dialogue's Summary that the list of people taking part in it was provided "on a not-forattribution-basis" (underlined in the original) and now I take note that you do not “endorse every idea within the document” and “do not understand it to be the sort of document where endorsement is applicable”. Thus, contrary to our letter, which is signed by people and organizations that are accountable for what they say, the summary we criticized is actually anonymous. If no one takes responsibility for it, further debate would be a waste of time.

Nevertheless, since you insist that “we will not be disassociating ourselves from the document or the process” and that you  "believe the summary document is a true reflection of the conversation" let me just note that there is no issue dealt with by the summary where more than one opinion is reported. I have no reason to doubt that every commentary collected by the summary was made by someone during the “conversation”, but by selecting some over others, the unattributed summary is taking positions that appear to be the result of a consensus without any guarante that this was actually the case.

It is difficult for me to believe that a conversation about the future of the UN in “the Americas” forgets to mention women except in a list among other victims and does not even mention workers in those lists, or people of African descent, and identifies migrants only as a source of insecurity, instability and violence. If you feel this is a fair result of a “process” I would advise co-sponsors to be more careful in the future about that kind of process, as the people out there without daily access to the corridors or zooms of power tend to ignore the intrincacies of processes and judge by their fruits.


Roberto Bissio