October 24, 2000
Translation: FTAA Secretariat
COMMITTEE OF GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES ON THE PARTICIPATION OF
CONTRIBUTION IN RESPONSE TO THE OPEN INVITATION
ELENA TORRES SEGUEL
Matilde Troup Association of Women Lawyers
Association of Women Lawyers
Our proposals or contributions to the FTAA process deal with to four
Strengthening civil society and the participation of citizens
In our world, communication is becoming increasingly commonplace, and
people are moving more easily and frequently between countries, and even
more so within the region comprising the FTAA (Latin America and North
America). It is therefore more necessary and convenient, when we look at
integration, for professionals in the service area to receive reciprocal,
non discriminatory treatment. The validity of these elements must be
recognized. Similar recognition and validity must be given to non profit
professional organizations, so that they can participate in research work
or programmes in the fields in which they work. This work usually
benefits, or is directed at sectors in member countries which do not enjoy
the same recognition and validity.
There is a tendency not to respect professional service providers, whether
they are persons or non profit professional organizations, because of
difficulties and demands such as visas and other similar formalities,
which are not included in duties. The type of professional services would
therefore have to be specified as a priority.
Labour laws. Some member countries have made more progress in this
area, particularly small business, and informal work, with special
attention to women and boys and girls. It would be very helpful if their
laws can be adopted by all countries of the FTAA.
On the one hand, technological progress immediately and universally
facilitates development and knowledge. It also involves the possibility
that intellectual property rights can be infringed. It is difficult to
obtain timely knowledge as to whether these rights have been violated, and
sanctions either scarcely exist or are difficult to develop.
We therefore believe that this matter should be examined in depth, and
that respective laws in the region should be adapted to ensure access to
new technologies, and safeguard intellectual property rights.
Strengthening civil society and citizen participation
This involves joining efforts in order to achieve greater awareness in the
region of the rights of citizens, and knowledge of how these rights can be
exercised. Professional organizations, particularly those in the legal
field such as our association, can make an important contribution in this
area. Access to this knowledge is incomplete, scarce and often lacking in
objectivity, particularly in sectors where resources are few and education
levels are low. Let us also include in this the region's vulnerability in
terms of complete schooling and poverty levels in large sectors. All of
this makes their participation even more difficult.
The countries of the FTAA and civil society organizations can help bring
people closer to citizen participation, a knowledge of their rights, and
how to exercise these rights. This would encourage and provide an
incentive for greater participation and arouse their interest in national
bodies as well as regional integration organizations.
Elena Torres Seguel.