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Public
FTAA.soc/w/161/Add.1
October 24, 2000


Original: Spanish
Translation: FTAA Secretariat

FTAA - COMMITTEE OF GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES ON THE PARTICIPATION OF
CIVIL SOCIETY

CONTRIBUTION IN RESPONSE TO THE OPEN INVITATION


NAME ELENA TORRES SEGUEL
ORGANIZATION Matilde Troup Association of Women Lawyers

Matilde Troup Association of Women Lawyers

Executive Summary
Our proposals or contributions to the FTAA process deal with to four subject areas
Professional services
Labour laws
Intellectual Property
Strengthening civil society and the participation of citizens


Professional services
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.

Intellectual Property
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.

 
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