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Cablegate: White House Conference On the Americas: Feedback From

VZCZCXRO9272
PP RUEHCD RUEHGA RUEHGD RUEHHA RUEHHO RUEHMC RUEHQU RUEHTM RUEHVC
DE RUEHBU #1667/01 2361212
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 241212Z AUG 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUENOS AIRES
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 9011
INFO RUCNMRC/WESTERN HEMISPHERIC AFFAIRS DIPL POSTS PRIORITY

UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 BUENOS AIRES 001667

SIPDIS

SIPDIS

FOR WHA (TAMBURRI), WHA/BSC (FRIDMAN), AND WHA/PDA (BARNES), R

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: KPAO KSUM AR
SUBJECT: WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON THE AMERICAS: FEEDBACK FROM
ARGENTINE PARTICIPANTS AND POST FOLLOW-UP

1. SUMMARY: POST SENT 11 NGO LEADERS TO THE JULY 9 WHITE HOUSE
CONFERENCE ON THE AMERICAS. ON JULY 20, THE AMBASSADOR HOSTED A
ROUNDTABLE WITH NINE OF THE 11 PARTICIPANTS TO GET THEIR FEEDBACK
AND DISCUSS FOLLOW-UP ACTIVITIES. THEY APPRECIATED THE CONFERENCE
BUT SUGGESTED THAT THERE COULD HAVE BEEN MORE NETWORKING ACTIVITIES
AND ASKED FOR EMBASSY SUPPORT IN REACHING OUT TO POTENTIAL DONORS
AND PARTNERS. POST IS CONSIDERING AN "NGO FAIR" TO PROVIDE
OPPORTUNITIES FOR NGOS TO GARNER MORE SUPPORT LOCALLY. TO EXPLORE
THIS AND OTHER IDEAS, AMBASSADOR HOSTED AN INITIAL MEETING AUGUST 22
WITH OTHER DONOR EMBASSIES. END SUMMARY.

2. POST SENT 11 NGO LEADERS TO THE WHITE HOUSE CONFERENCE ON THE
AMERICAS CONVENED BY PRESIDENT BUSH ON JULY 9. UPON THEIR RETURN,
THE AMBASSADOR INVITED THE PARTICIPANTS TO THE EMBASSY TO GET THEIR
VIEWS ON THE CONFERENCE AND TO DISCUSS POSSIBLE FOLLOW-ON
ACTIVITIES. NINE OF THE ELEVEN PARTICIPANTS WERE ABLE TO ATTEND.

3. THE MAJORITY OF THE CONFERENCE PARTICIPANTS EXPRESSED
APPRECIATION FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO ATTEND. THEY SAID THAT THE
EXTENSION OF THE INVITATION ITSELF, AND THE FACT THAT SO MANY SENIOR
USG FIGURES WERE PRESENT, SENT A STRONG SIGNAL ABOUT THE IMPORTANT
ROLE NGOS PLAY IN THE REGION AND OF THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION'S
INTEREST IN WORKING TOGETHER WITH THEM TO STRENGTHEN SOCIAL PROGRAMS
AND GOOD GOVERNANCE. THE GROUP SINGLED OUT FOR PRAISE THE
OPPORTUNITY THEY WERE GIVEN TO EXCHANGE VIEWS DIRECTLY WITH
CABINET-LEVEL OFFICIALS, ALTHOUGH THEY WOULD HAVE LIKED MORE TIME.
THEY ALSO FELT THE TOPICS UNDER DISCUSSION WERE APPROPRIATE.

4. ONE COMPLAINT THAT THE GROUP SHARED, HOWEVER, WAS THAT THERE WERE
FEWER OPPORTUNITIES THAN EXPECTED TO MEET WITH THEIR FELLOW
ATTENDEES FROM OTHER COUNTRIES IN THE REGION. THEY COMMENTED THAT
THERE WAS NO MECHANISM BUILT INTO THE CONFERENCE PROCEEDINGS THAT
OFFERED THEM A CHANCE TO MEET AND NETWORK WITH THEIR PEERS. THEY
NOTED THAT SUCH MEETINGS TOOK PLACE ON THE MARGINS OF THE CONFERENCE
- IN THE HALLWAYS, OVER MEALS, IN TAXIS -- BUT NOT AT THE CONFERENCE
ITSELF, E.G., AT DESIGNATED TIMES FOR NETWORKING. THEY ALSO
SUGGESTED PROVIDING DIFFERENT COLORED NAME TAGS WHICH WOULD IDENTIFY
PEOPLE BY FIELD SUCH AS HEALTH, EDUCATION, ARTS, ETC., SO THAT ONE
COULD MORE EASILY FIND HIS/HER COUNTERPART.

5. THE PARTICIPANTS UNDERSTOOD THAT DUE TO SECURITY REASONS, LITTLE
INFORMATION WAS PROVIDED TO THEM PRIOR TO THE CONFERENCE. THEY
FELT, HOWEVER, THAT THE LACK OF INFORMATION ON THE AGENDA AND ON THE
OTHER PARTICIPANTS PREVENTED THEM FROM PREPARING AS THEY WOULD HAVE
LIKED.

6. THE PARTICIPANTS ALSO AGREED THAT THE CONFERENCE SHOULD HAVE BEEN
MORE THAN ONE DAY. IF A SECOND "OFFICIAL" DAY WAS NOT POSSIBLE, THEY
WOULD HAVE LIKED FOR THERE TO HAVE BEEN AN "UNOFFICIAL" NEXT DAY
DEDICATED TO INTERACTION WITH THEIR COUNTERPARTS. ANOTHER
RECOMMENDATION WAS TO HAVE A DIGITAL VIDEO CONFERENCE FOR THE
INVITEES WHO COULD NOT ATTEND SO THAT MORE NGOS COULD PARTICIPATE.

7. THE PARTICIPANTS ASKED THE EMBASSY TO EXPLORE WAYS TO HELP THEM
CONNECT WITH POTENTIAL DONORS AND PARTNERS WHO COULD HELP THEM. ONE
IDEA RAISED WAS FOR THE EMBASSY TO HOST AN "NGO FAIR" WHERE NGOS
COULD PRESENT THEMSELVES TO OTHER EMBASSIES AND BUSINESSES THAT
MIGHT OFFER SUPPORT.

8. ON AUGUST 22, AMBASSADOR WAYNE HOSTED 22 AMBASSADORS AND
REPRESENTATIVES FROM FOREIGN EMBASSIES AT THE RESIDENCE TO INTRODUCE
THE IDEA OF AN NGO FAIR TO STRENGTHEN THE LOCAL NGO SECTOR IN
ARGENTINA AND TO SEEK OTHER IDEAS AND BEST PRACTICES. PARTICIPANTS
EXPRESSED THEIR APPRECIATION FOR THIS FIRST-TIME ROUNDTABLE
DISCUSSION OF WAYS TO STRENGTHEN CIVIL SOCIETY THROUGH SUPPORT OF
NGOS. THE DISCUSSION FOCUSED ON THE DEVELOPMENT APPROACHES OF
DIFFERENT COUNTRIES IN WORKING WITH LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL NGOS.
MOST PARTICIPANTS AGREED THAT THE KEY TO THE EFFORT IS IDENTIFYING
EFFECTIVE LOCAL NGOS, HELPING THEM ESTABLISH GOOD WORKING
RELATIONSHIPS WITH INTERNATIONAL NGOS, AND ENCOURAGING THEM TO SHARE
BEST PRACTICES. THE GROU ALSO DISCUSSED WAYS TO ENCOURAGE PRIVATE
SECTOR SUPPORT OF NGOS, AND THERE WAS GENERAL AGREEMENT THAT AN NGO
FAIR, SPONSORED BY DONOR EMBASSIES, COULD GIVE ARGENTINE NGOS AN
OPPORTUNITY TO ENGAGE LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL BUSINESSES IN THEIR
PROJECTS. SEVERAL NOTED THE NEED TO ENSURE NGO BUY-IN TO THE IDEA OF
A FAIR AND TO BE SURE THE TIMING DID NOT LOOK TOO POLITICAL, I.E.,
IT SHOULD PROBABLY BE HELD AFTER THE OCTOBER 28 NATIONAL ELECTIONS.
THE MEETING CONCLUDED WITH PARTICIPANTS AGREEING TO SHARE CONTACTS
AND CONTINUE DISCUSSIONS ABOUT THE FAIR VIA A NETWORK OF WORKING
LEVEL EMBASSY CONTACTS.

9. COMMENT: ALL OF THE PARTICIPANTS IN THE AUGUST 22 MEETING
EXPRESSED A DESIRE TO CONTINUE WORKING WITH THE EMBASSY IN ORDER TO
FOLLOW UP ON THE CONFERENCE'S GOALS. POST WILL WORK TO DEVELOP AN
NGO FAIR OR OTHER EVENT WHICH COULD OFFER NGOS WAYS TO STRENGTHEN
THEIR SUPPORT BASE. THIS COULD INCLUDE BRINGING TOGETHER NGOS FROM
THE UNITED STATES, THE REGION AND BEYOND, AS WELL AS INTERNATIONAL
BUSINESSES PRESENT IN ARGENTINA, TO FIND PARTNERS, NETWORK, AND
COLLABORATE ON COMMON INITIATIVES. END COMMENT.


BUENOS AIR 00001667 002 OF 002


9. TO SEE MORE BUENOS AIRES REPORTING, VISIT OUR CLASSIFIED WEBSITE
AT:
HTTP://WWW.STATE.SQOV.GOV/P/WHA/BUENOSAIRES

WAYNE

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