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What Is the Summit of the Americas?

Every 3-4 years, the democratically elected leaders of the Western Hemisphere gather to discuss the region’s most pressing issues. Much may have changed since the U.S. hosted the 1st Summit in 1994, but one thing remains the same: the need for neighbors to work together.


  • Step 1: Who's going? President Obama and his regional counterparts -- namely the heads of state and government from all 34 democratic countries in North, Central, and South America and the Caribbean -- will participate as well as delegations from the Organization of American States and observer groups from a number of inter-American organizations.
  • Step 2: When is it happening? The Fifth Summit of the Americas will be held from April 17-19, 2009. The past four Summits were held in 1994, 1998, 2001, and 2005.
  • Step 3: Where is it happening? The island republic of Trinidad and Tobago will host this year’s Summit -- the first Caribbean nation to do so.
  • Step 4: What exactly is it? The goal of every Summit is to find solutions to common concerns and better the lives of citizens throughout the Americas. This year's agenda will focus on three critical issues: human prosperity, energy security, and environmental sustainability. Participants will also address economic recovery and poverty reduction in the face of the current global economic crisis, and climate change.
  • Step 5: How does it work? Active participants will present concerns and discuss issues in plenary sessions. On the third day, the 34 leaders will attend a retreat. At the conclusion of the Summit, leaders will sign a Declaration of Commitment that synthesizes the gathering's key resolutions.
  • Step 6: Why have the Summit of the Americas? The Summit allows the democratic countries of the Western Hemisphere to better understand each other’s problems and positions, but more importantly, it’s a way for neighbor to help neighbor in the spirit of equality, equity, and mutual responsibility. Remember that the Summit participants attend on your behalf -- the citizens who elected them. Make sure your voice is heard by visiting "": to offer comments, ask questions, and propose suggestions.
  • FACT: More than 900 million people live in the Americas -- the Summit will pursue solutions to offer each of them a better quality of life.

You Will Need

  • A concern for the future of the Western Hemisphere

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