What is the Summit of the Americas?

Only the Summit of the Americas brings together leaders from the countries of North, South, and Central America, and the Caribbean. The Summit and its stakeholder forums promote cooperation towards region-wide, inclusive economic growth and prosperity based on our shared respect for democracy, fundamental freedoms, the dignity of labor, and free enterprise.

Civil society organizations, representatives of indigenous communities, civic leaders, and business executives and young entrepreneurs also meet at each Summit, promoting dialogue and developing plans of action to address the challenges and opportunities facing the people of the Americas. The nation that hosts the Summit of the Americas serves as the Chair of the Summit process; the previous host serves as Vice Chair.

You can find additional information on the Summits of the Americas here.

U.S. President Bill Clinton convened the first Summit of the Americas in Miami, Florida, in December 1994 to promote economic growth and prosperity throughout the Americas based on shared democratic values and the promise of increased trade and commerce to improve the quality of life for all peoples and preserve the hemisphere’s natural resources for future generations. The 1994 Summit was the first hemispheric summit since 1967, when Uruguay hosted most of the region’s leaders, but did not include Canada and much of the Caribbean. The subsequent regular summits have taken place in Santiago, Chile (1998), Quebec City, Canada (2001), Mar del Plata, Argentina (2005), Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago (2009), Cartagena, Colombia (2012), Panama City, Panama (2015), and Lima, Peru (2018). Special summits took place in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia (1996), and Monterrey, Nuevo León, Mexico (2004).

Each Summit focuses on critical area of cooperation of interest to all the countries in the Americas. This has allowed us to work together to promote democracy and human rights, increase economic competitiveness, promote development, improve access to clean energy and communication technology, strengthen regional security, and counter illicit trafficking. Most recently, leaders committed to fighting the corruption that undermines democratic governance when they met at the Eighth Summit of the Americas in Lima, Peru in 2018.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the adoption of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, mandated by leaders at the Third Summit in Quebec City in 2001. In this seminal document, the governments of our hemisphere recognized that, “the peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.” It also marks the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Inter-American Convention Against Corruption, mandated by leaders at the First Summit in Miami in 1994, and committing the hemisphere’s governments to transparency and the rule of law.

To learn more about previous Summits of the Americas, please see this link.

Who Participates in the Summit of the Americas?

Heads of state and government, foreign ministers, and other senior officials from the governments of the Americas attend the Summit of the Americas and associated forums at the invitation of the host government. The President or Vice President of the United States has attended all the Summits of the Americas.

Heads of international organizations comprising the Joint Summit Working Group, the thirteen multilateral institutions and development finance institutions committed to supporting the Summit process. You can find additional information about the Joint Summit Working Group here.

Civil society

The United States has been a champion for civil society representation and meaningful participation in the Summit process. The Civil Society Forum is often the only opportunity for many civil society representatives from the region to engage leaders directly and elevate their concerns. The Citizen Forum of the Americas (Foro Ciudadano de las Americas) and the Summits of the Americas Secretariat at the Organization of American States (OAS) coordinate civil society’s participation in the Summit.

Business leaders

The CEO Summit of the Americas is the highest-profile business forum of the Americas, bringing together leading CEOs with heads of government to identify polices and transparent partnerships that advance economic growth and investment, including through the efforts of the private sector-led Americas Business Dialogue. The Inter-American Development Bank organized the first CEO Summit in 2012.


The Young Americas Forum is an open and inclusive channel for youth to define their priorities and coordinate action in the region. Youth at each Summit prepare concrete recommendations to governments and adopt a hemispheric agenda for follow-up activities. The Young Americas Business Trust has organized the Young Americas Forum on the margins of five regular Summits.

Other stakeholders

Past Summits have included forums for parliamentarians, indigenous groups, labor leaders, and university rectors, among others.

How is the Summit Organized?

Every participating country selects a National Summit Coordinator to head its preparation and planning efforts. In turn, the Coordinators work together as part of the Summit’s managing body, the Summit Implementation Review Group (SIRG) to inform and implement the agendas their heads of government seek to advance. The Summit host serves as SIRG Chair. The SIRG enjoys the support of the Summits of the Americas Secretariat, which is housed at the Organization of American States, and the 13 international organizations that comprise the Joint Summit Working Group (JSWG).