“I welcome you to the Fifth Summit of the Americas,” he told hundreds of guests from civil society and public life.
Manning said: “The effects of civil society’s work have often been lost to those of us who toil in other vineyards.” However, he thanked these groups for helping many people over the years and said they had a critical role to play in the development of a people and society.
He said civil society must be facilitated. (See Page 8A) “To maximise the potential of the societies, the people must have their say.” Manning said governments must not govern in their own interests but in the interests of the people.
Saying a nation is judged on how it treats its least fortunate citizens, he said civil society has the potential to make nations great. Each government in the hemisphere, he said, has the duty to boost the spread and effectiveness of its civil society groups.
Manning hoped the forum would help clarify the role of civil society groups, and advance their relationship with the State.
He warned that while State help is available to civil society groups, access can be fettered by the failure of some groups to properly organise themselves. He said this was partly due to the voluntary nature of the work of civil society, but is compounded when such groups fail to define their purpose.
“This results in its mission remaining unfocussed and its target population unidentified,” he cautioned.
Civil society groups, he added, also suffer from a perception that anybody can do what they want to do. “Our civil society groups therefore need to be highly organised and focussed. This is mandatory.” Such actions, he said, would legitimise and authenticate their efforts and operations. He urged civil society be helped to access a valuable reservoir of support that is available in this information age, adding the summit recognises that governments are increasingly heeding such groups. He said there was an inextricable link between the civil society forum and the mission of the summit of human prosperity, energy security and environmental sustainability.
“This my dear friends is a People’s Summit. In the end it will be the people who benefit.” He urged the development of as many civil society groups as possible, especially for the elderly, ill, differently- abled, less fortunate and specially- gifted. “Your deliberations will go a considerable way to improving the lives of the people in the hemisphere.”