Greater civil society engagement in Argentina’s public policy

November, 2016
The Argentine delegation’s outstanding work at the Second UNASUR Citizen Participation Forum is an example of the importance of citizen involvement in foreign policy. It is the result of strengthening civil society engagement in the definition of Argentine public policies.

On 17 and 18 November, the Second UNASUR Citizen Participation Forum was held in Quito, Ecuador, with the participation of representatives of the civil society of Argentina, Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Peru, Uruguay, Suriname and Venezuela.

The Argentine delegation, comprised of members of the Civil Society Consultative Council (CCSC), played a key role both at the plenary meeting and at round tables. Measures proposed by the Argentine delegation, once adopted, ensured the definitive institutionalization of the Forum, thus favouring order, effectiveness and legal certainty for civil society engagement in UNASUR. The leading role played by our delegation is the result of a process to enhance openness to citizens which has intensified over the past year, with a view to greater involvement by civil society in the design of national public policies.

CCSC is a citizen consultation and participation body within the Argentine Foreign Ministry. The Council promotes meetings that, given their characteristics, make this forum a consultative, all-embracing, diverse and plural body in the field of regional public policy. It is comprised of a number of different committees centred on the key issues based on the main concerns that affect our society. Committee members are volunteers who represent community organizations, non-governmental organizations and non-profits, as well as social and academic leaders. Likewise, the CCSC’s mission is to foster engagement by the Argentine civil society in the MERCOSUR Social Summit, in the UNASUR Citizen Participation Forum, and in other relevant international fora.

Over the past year, the Council incorporated new fields of work. Among them, the Open Government Committee which intensively addresses issues such as access to information, the fight against corruption and the monitoring of obligations undertaken by the national government; the Committee for Youth Affairs, and the Committee of Women Entrepreneurs and Women in Business. The latter is in addition to the existing Gender Equity Committee, favouring women’s empowerment in the private sector and advocating equal income.

Through CCSC, Argentine civil society now has an institutional framework for participation within the Foreign Ministry. Its recent strengthening will facilitate, throughout next year, Argentina’s work as Pro Tempore President of MERCOSUR and UNASUR, as well as the arrangements for the MERCOSUR Social Summit and the Third UNASUR Citizen Participation Forum.

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