Lima, September 11, 2001
INTER-AMERICAN DEMOCRATIC CHARTER
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY,
CONSIDERING that the Charter of the Organization
of American States recognizes that representative democracy is indispensable for the
stability, peace, and development of the region, and that one of the purposes of the OAS
is to promote and consolidate representative democracy, with due respect for the principle
RECOGNIZING the contributions of the OAS and other
regional and sub-regional mechanisms to the promotion and consolidation of democracy in
RECALLING that the Heads of State and Government
of the Americas, gathered at the Third Summit of the Americas, held from April 20 to 22,
2001 in Quebec City, adopted a democracy clause which establishes that any
unconstitutional alteration or interruption of the democratic order in a state of the
Hemisphere constitutes an insurmountable obstacle to the participation of that state's
government in the Summits of the Americas process;
BEARING IN MIND that existing democratic
provisions in regional and subregional mechanisms express the same objectives as the
democracy clause adopted by the Heads of State and Government in Quebec City;
REAFFIRMING that the participatory nature of
democracy in our countries in different aspects of public life contributes to the
consolidation of democratic values and to freedom and solidarity in the Hemisphere;
CONSIDERING that solidarity among and cooperation
between American states require the political organization of those states based on the
effective exercise of representative democracy, and that economic growth and social
development based on justice and equity, and democracy are interdependent and mutually
REAFFIRMING that the fight against poverty, and
especially the elimination of extreme poverty, is essential to the promotion and
consolidation of democracy and constitutes a common and shared responsibility of the
BEARING IN MIND that the American Declaration on
the Rights and Duties of Man and the American Convention on Human Rights contain the
values and principles of liberty, equality, and social justice that are intrinsic to
REAFFIRMING that the promotion and protection of
human rights is a basic prerequisite for the existence of a democratic society, and
recognizing the importance of the continuous development and strengthening of the
inter-American human rights system for the consolidation of democracy;
CONSIDERING that education is an effective way to
promote citizens awareness concerning their own countries and thereby achieve
meaningful participation in the decision-making process, and reaffirming the importance of
human resource development for a sound democratic system;
RECOGNIZING that a safe environment is essential
to the integral development of the human being, which contributes to democracy and
BEARING IN MIND that the Protocol of San Salvador
on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights emphasizes the great importance of the
reaffirmation, development, improvement, and protection of those rights in order to
consolidate the system of representative democratic government;
RECOGNIZING that the right of workers to associate
themselves freely for the defense and promotion of their interests is fundamental to the
fulfillment of democratic ideals;
TAKING INTO ACCOUNT that, in the Santiago
Commitment to Democracy and the Renewal of the Inter-American System, the ministers of
foreign affairs expressed their determination to adopt a series of effective, timely, and
expeditious procedures to ensure the promotion and defense of representative democracy,
with due respect for the principle of nonintervention; and that resolution AG/RES. 1080
(XXI-O/91) therefore established a mechanism for collective action in the case of a sudden
or irregular interruption of the democratic political institutional process or of the
legitimate exercise of power by the democratically-elected government in any of the
Organization's member states, thereby fulfilling a long-standing aspiration of the
Hemisphere to be able to respond rapidly and collectively in defense of democracy;
RECALLING that, in the Declaration of Nassau
[AG/DEC. 1 (XXII-O/92)], it was agreed to develop mechanisms to provide assistance, when
requested by a member state, to promote, preserve, and strengthen representative
democracy, in order to complement and give effect to the provisions of resolution AG/RES.
BEARING IN MIND that, in the Declaration of
Managua for the Promotion of Democracy and Development [AG/DEC. 4 (XXIII-O/93)], the
member states expressed their firm belief that democracy, peace, and development are
inseparable and indivisible parts of a renewed and integral vision of solidarity in the
Americas; and that the ability of the Organization to help preserve and strengthen
democratic structures in the region will depend on the implementation of a strategy based
on the interdependence and complementarity of those values;
CONSIDERING that, in the Declaration of Managua
for the Promotion of Democracy and Development, the member states expressed their
conviction that the Organizations mission is not limited to the defense of democracy
wherever its fundamental values and principles have collapsed, but also calls for ongoing
and creative work to consolidate democracy as well as a continuing effort to prevent and
anticipate the very causes of the problems that affect the democratic system of
BEARING IN MIND that the Ministers of Foreign
Affairs of the Americas, at the thirty-first regular session of the General Assembly, held
in San Jose, Costa Rica, in keeping with express instructions from the Heads of State and
Government gathered at the Third Summit of the Americas, in Quebec City, accepted the base
document of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and entrusted the Permanent Council of
the Organization with strengthening and expanding the document, in accordance with the OAS
Charter, for final adoption at a special session of the General Assembly in Lima, Peru;
RECOGNIZING that all the rights and obligations of
member states under the OAS Charter represent the foundation on which democratic
principles in the Hemisphere are built; and
BEARING IN MIND the progressive development of
international law and the advisability of clarifying the provisions set forth in the OAS
Charter and related basic instruments on the preservation and defense of democratic
institutions, according to established practice,
To adopt the following:
INTER-AMERICAN DEMOCRATIC CHARTER
Democracy and the Inter-American System
The peoples of the Americas have a right to
democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.
Democracy is essential for the social, political,
and economic development of the peoples of the Americas.
The effective exercise of representative democracy
is the basis for the rule of law and of the constitutional regimes of the member states of
the Organization of American States. Representative democracy is strengthened and deepened
by permanent, ethical, and responsible participation of the citizenry within a legal
framework conforming to the respective constitutional order.
Essential elements of representative democracy
include, inter alia, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, access to
and the exercise of power in accordance with the rule of law, the holding of periodic,
free, and fair elections based on secret balloting and universal suffrage as an expression
of the sovereignty of the people, the pluralistic system of political parties and
organizations, and the separation of powers and independence of the branches of
Transparency in government activities, probity,
responsible public administration on the part of governments, respect for social rights,
and freedom of expression and of the press are essential components of the exercise of
The constitutional subordination of all state
institutions to the legally constituted civilian authority and respect for the rule of law
on the part of all institutions and sectors of society are equally essential to democracy.
The strengthening of political parties and other
political organizations is a priority for democracy. Special attention will be paid to the
problems associated with the high cost of election campaigns and the establishment of a
balanced and transparent system for their financing.
It is the right and responsibility of all citizens
to participate in decisions relating to their own development. This is also a necessary
condition for the full and effective exercise of democracy. Promoting and fostering
diverse forms of participation strengthens democracy.
Democracy and Human Rights
Democracy is indispensable for the effective
exercise of fundamental freedoms and human rights in their universality, indivisibility
and interdependence, embodied in the respective constitutions of states and in
inter-American and international human rights instruments.
Any person or group of persons who consider that
their human rights have been violated may present claims or petitions to the
inter-American system for the promotion and protection of human rights in accordance with
its established procedures.
Member states reaffirm their intention to
strengthen the inter-American system for the protection of human rights for the
consolidation of democracy in the Hemisphere.
The elimination of all forms of discrimination,
especially gender, ethnic and race discrimination, as well as diverse forms of
intolerance, the promotion and protection of human rights of indigenous peoples and
migrants, and respect for ethnic, cultural and religious diversity in the Americas
contribute to strengthening democracy and citizen participation.
The promotion and strengthening of democracy
requires the full and effective exercise of workers rights and the application of
core labor standards, as recognized in the International Labour Organization (ILO)
Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work, and its Follow-up, adopted in
1998, as well as other related fundamental ILO conventions. Democracy is strengthened by
improving standards in the workplace and enhancing the quality of life for workers in the
Democracy, Integral Development, and Combating
Democracy and social and economic development are
interdependent and are mutually reinforcing.
Poverty, illiteracy, and low levels of human
development are factors that adversely affect the consolidation of democracy. The OAS
member states are committed to adopting and implementing all those actions required to
generate productive employment, reduce poverty, and eradicate extreme poverty, taking into
account the different economic realities and conditions of the countries of the
Hemisphere. This shared commitment regarding the problems associated with development and
poverty also underscores the importance of maintaining macroeconomic equilibria and the
obligation to strengthen social cohesion and democracy.
The promotion and observance of economic, social,
and cultural rights are inherently linked to integral development, equitable economic
growth, and to the consolidation of democracy in the states of the Hemisphere.
Member states agree to review periodically the
actions adopted and carried out by the Organization to promote dialogue, cooperation for
integral development, and the fight against poverty in the Hemisphere, and to take the
appropriate measures to further these objectives.
The exercise of democracy promotes the
preservation and good stewardship of the environment. It is essential that the states of
the Hemisphere implement policies and strategies to protect the environment, including
application of various treaties and conventions, to achieve sustainable development for
the benefit of future generations.
Education is key to strengthening democratic
institutions, promoting the development of human potential, and alleviating poverty and
fostering greater understanding among our peoples. To achieve these ends, it is essential
that a quality education be available to all, including girls and women, rural
inhabitants, and minorities.
Strengthening and Preservation of Democratic
When the government of a member state considers
that its democratic political institutional process or its legitimate exercise of power is
at risk, it may request assistance from the Secretary General or the Permanent Council for
the strengthening and preservation of its democratic system.
When situations arise in a member state that may
affect the development of its democratic political institutional process or the legitimate
exercise of power, the Secretary General or the Permanent Council may, with prior consent
of the government concerned, arrange for visits or other actions in order to analyze the
situation. The Secretary General will submit a report to the Permanent Council, which will
undertake a collective assessment of the situation and, where necessary, may adopt
decisions for the preservation of the democratic system and its strengthening.
Based on the principles of the Charter of the OAS
and subject to its norms, and in accordance with the democracy clause contained in the
Declaration of Quebec City, an unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order or an
unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the
democratic order in a member state, constitutes, while it persists, an insurmountable
obstacle to its governments participation in sessions of the General Assembly, the
Meeting of Consultation, the Councils of the Organization, the specialized conferences,
the commissions, working groups, and other bodies of the Organization.
In the event of an unconstitutional alteration of
the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order in a member state,
any member state or the Secretary General may request the immediate convocation of the
Permanent Council to undertake a collective assessment of the situation and to take such
decisions as it deems appropriate.
The Permanent Council, depending on the situation,
may undertake the necessary diplomatic initiatives, including good offices, to foster the
restoration of democracy.
If such diplomatic initiatives prove unsuccessful,
or if the urgency of the situation so warrants, the Permanent Council shall immediately
convene a special session of the General Assembly. The General Assembly will adopt the
decisions it deems appropriate, including the undertaking of diplomatic initiatives, in
accordance with the Charter of the Organization, international law, and the provisions of
this Democratic Charter.
The necessary diplomatic initiatives, including
good offices, to foster the restoration of democracy, will continue during the process.
When the special session of the General Assembly
determines that there has been an unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order of
a member state, and that diplomatic initiatives have failed, the special session shall
take the decision to suspend said member state from the exercise of its right to
participate in the OAS by an affirmative vote of two thirds of the member states in
accordance with the Charter of the OAS. The suspension shall take effect immediately.
The suspended member state shall continue to
fulfill its obligations to the Organization, in particular its human rights obligations.
Notwithstanding the suspension of the member
state, the Organization will maintain diplomatic initiatives to restore democracy in that
Once the situation that led to suspension has been
resolved, any member state or the Secretary General may propose to the General Assembly
that suspension be lifted. This decision shall require the vote of two thirds of the
member states in accordance with the OAS Charter.
Democracy and Electoral Observation Missions
Member states are responsible for organizing,
conducting, and ensuring free and fair electoral processes.
Member states, in the exercise of their
sovereignty, may request that the Organization of American States provide advisory
services or assistance for strengthening and developing their electoral institutions and
processes, including sending preliminary missions for that purpose.
The electoral observation missions shall be
carried out at the request of the member state concerned. To that end, the government of
that state and the Secretary General shall enter into an agreement establishing the scope
and coverage of the electoral observation mission in question. The member state shall
guarantee conditions of security, free access to information, and full cooperation with
the electoral observation mission.
Electoral observation missions shall be carried
out in accordance with the principles and norms of the OAS. The Organization shall ensure
that these missions are effective and independent and shall provide them with the
necessary resources for that purpose. They shall be conducted in an objective, impartial,
and transparent manner and with the appropriate technical expertise.
Electoral observation missions shall present a
report on their activities in a timely manner to the Permanent Council, through the
The electoral observation missions shall advise
the Permanent Council, through the General Secretariat, if the necessary conditions for
free and fair elections do not exist.