Media Center



July 12, 2006 - Washington, DC

During this important electoral year in the Americas, June 4th was an historic opportunity for the people of Peru to express their democratic right and will to elect their President in a second round of elections. As Chief of Mission, it is my honor to present to you the report of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission.

I wish to begin by thanking Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza for asking me to lead this electoral mission, to the government of Peru for agreeing to have me there and to the member states of the OAS for your support in the exercise of my duties. As recent events have demonstrate even in maturing democracies there is a great value added to third party impartial assessment of electoral processes in the support of democratic development in our region and the OAS has a singular role to play. This role must continue to be supported politically and financially by member states, permanent observers and the broader community of donors.

As many of you know, when I was President of the General Assembly in 2000, I had the unique privilege of leading the OAS mission to Peru to support the transition to democracy and to establish the “mesa de dialogo”. This was an important and meaningful experience for me as Canada’s Foreign Minister and a pivotal moment for the OAS. Leading the electoral observation mission to Peru was for me closing a chapter begun in 2000, one that is a testament to the determination of the Peruvian people and the resilience of the OAS and the inter-American system.

The Mission for the second round was set up in the first days of May and by May 28th we had deployed 123 observers to different regions of the country.

Recognizing that elections reveal systemic strengths and weaknesses of any political system, the Mission took a broad view of its mandate and focused both on the democratic agenda facing Peru before and after election day, as well as the immediate challenges of the electoral process.

According to the report received from my colleague Dr. Rafael Bielsa, who took over the mission on election day due to a previous commitment that I had back in Canada, the Mission was able to determine that the election held was transparent, credible and legitimate. All parties accepted the outcome and the electoral authorities demonstrated their commitment to hold a well organized electoral process. In our opinion, these elections have contributed to legitimize the electoral reforms implemented since the 2001 election, and have created an opportunity to strengthen the electoral system, as a platform for the construction of a sound, inclusive, political system.

At times, the campaign rhetoric between the candidates became very intense pushing the limits of political civility and, of greater concern, there were also some skirmishes among supporters of the two candidates, which although limited, nonetheless represent an issue of concern for the Peruvian political process in the future. This is especially true since regional and municipal elections are occurring this fall.

Dialogue and cooperation are the most appropriate channels for building bridges among different sectors of society for the benefit of the Peruvian people and the stability and development of democracy in Peru.


In this respect, and in others, the second round was a definite improvement on the first round. Peru’s authorities addressed and resolved many of the issues that the Mission had raised in our report on the first round. In particular, the security measures taken to ensure candidates could vote without disruption were exemplary. Measures to reduce the dissemination of polling results in the week before the election were successful. In addition, more intense and effective training was provided to citizens who served in the polling stations. Both the Jurado Nacional de Elecciones and the Oficina Nacional de Procesos Electorales (ONPE) improved their coordination mechanisms. Also, the two candidates negotiated, signed and respected an ethical pact in which both of them promised to abide by the rules of the election and to respect the outcome.

A recurrent theme in many of our talks with electoral authorities and political parties was the issue of having good laws that need to be firmly enforced. For example, a law was recently passed enabling the military and police to vote, yet some of the changes necessary to put this into practice were not implemented on time. We applaud the efforts of the President and the congress to enfranchise the military and national police, and congratulate the heads of the military and police for enabling as many of their men and women in uniform to vote, while simultaneously providing security for the entire process.

However, we observed that there is a tension between the long-standing tradition of mobilizing the armed forces and police to provide security for voters on Election Day and giving police and military officers the right to vote. Some soldiers were unable to vote because they were under orders to offer security for polling stations away from where they lived. Perhaps a more flexible voting system for the armed forces and police in which they can vote in advanced polls or have special ballot boxes where they are deployed might better enforce their right to vote.

The new government, both the executive and the legislative, will get the opportunity to build on the electoral reforms with the purpose to improve the system in different areas. For instance, it is going to be important to confront the differences between rural and urban voters, addressing the obstacles that rural voters face in their aim to exercise their right to vote, such as transportation to the voting canters and more accessible ways to obtain their voting cards. The new government could consider the implementation of tools such as advanced voting and mobile polling stations to help citizens exercise their voting rights.

It is estimated that over one million Peruvians have no legal documentation. Because these citizens have no legal identity, they have no political existence. Their needs, their interests, are invisible to even a political system that wishes to help them. Although the Peruvian government has been able to increase the number of registered voters in recent years, it is clear to me that the international community, and especially the OAS, should work with the next Peruvian government to register all Peruvians. In this regard I plan to commit myself personally and through the University of Winnipeg, of which I am the President and Vice-Chancellor, to this mission and work with the OAS, private foundations and the Peruvian government to register the undocumented citizens in Peru.

Two other issues of concern are the fair access to the media for all candidates and the proper monitoring of financial contributions to parties during elections. On the media side, there has been tremendous improvement since 2000, but we believe that there can be an opportunity for improvement if representatives of political parties, the owners of the media and the government can better agree to better guidelines giving candidates equal access to the media. Peruvians may consider it is timely to create a new “mesa de dialogo” to help address the many concerns expressed to us by political parties and civil society. Also, although the new electoral laws are good on the matter of financial contributions to political parties, there is a lack of capacity in both monitoring and enforcement. In this respect, it is important that the electoral authorities improve their capacity to monitor, in real time and in a publicly accessible manner, the donations and expenditures of political parties and candidates. This of course supports the view that the OAS should also develop the capacity to analyze and assess financial contributions to parties and the role of the media as part of a broader and longer-term “democratic appraisal” of electoral systems.

Even the best-designed electoral system is bound to run afoul, of course, unless citizens, candidates, officials, the media, and civil society act with public spirit. Such civic virtue is one of the best defenses against the undue influence of money and other forms of corruption in a political system, and it can be inculcated through education and the promotion of civil society. I am convinced that all actors, including the media, the political parties and public institutions will work in the improvement of the professional standards of their cadres, so that they are fully capable to work within the framework provided by the rule of law, as the only means to provide full legitimacy to Peruvian democratic practices.

Finally, I wish to address a sensitive problem that afflicted the entire campaign: During the election campaign, a wide spectrum of Peruvian society addressed the mission, concerned with the declarations made by the President of Venezuela with regard to the outcome of the Peruvian election. They were widely interpreted as interference in Peruvian domestic affairs by both candidates, their political parties, electoral officials, representatives of civil society, the media and the government. A complaint was presented by the Peruvian government to the OAS General Assembly, which clearly stated that Peru considered these actions as interference in the electoral process. It is my hope that this experience will reinforce the need for restraint and prudence by all external actors in order to allow citizens of the Americas to exercise their vote without any undue foreign interference, wherever it may come from in accordance with both the Charter of the OAS and the Democratic charter.

The future of democracy in our hemisphere is in the hearts and minds of our young people. It is their belief in both the system and the practices of democracy that will always make or break the fragile fabric of democratic practices. During this electoral process I suggested the implementation of a pilot process to engage young people as electoral observers, Students from the University of Winnipeg and several universities in Quebec came together for an experience of a lifetime and learned the direct and immediate importance of the electoral process. It is not and exaggeration to say that for many of these young people the experience changed their lives. The experience was enriched when we brought together young international observers who worked on the OAS mission with young Peruvian students who monitored the election for Peruvian based non government organization “Transparencia” in a special seminar at the Pontificate Catholic University of Peru. The exchanges of views about the nature of democracy, it challenges and the hope they had for the future were as sophisticated as I have ever seen. I have been speaking to the Canadian International Development Agency about developing a separate program to support such a youth component to support the youth of the hemisphere to participate in OAS electoral monitoring missions.

In the name of the OAS Electoral Observation Mission, I want to congratulate President Elect, Mr. Alan Garcia, and candidate Mr. Ollanta Humala, for their serious, responsible and civic behavior during the electoral process. I wish to thank President Alejandro Toledo for his unwavering support for the Electoral Mission, to the hard working members of Congress who together with the President took on the difficult task of re-writing the electoral laws and establishing very solid electoral system. The performance of all public servants from electoral institutions, citizens that served at the polling stations, representatives from political parties, national observers and representatives from the Defensoria del Pueblo, was undoubtedly essential for the success of the journey and its aftermath. Obviously, a special mention needs to be made to the Peruvian people, who participated in the election with enthusiasm and a clear, mature, democratic spirit. It is the voters’ participation that provides sense and legitimacy to a representative democratic system.

I want to thank all the electoral authorities, government institutions, civil society, political parties and the media for the support and help provided to the Mission that I led. Their openness and their interest to collaborate with us allowed the Mission to perform its duties without limitations.

I want to thank as well all the 123 international observers. Their professionalism and commitment was shown at all moments. My special thanks to the voluntary observers from diplomatic missions and international institutions. Their support made it possible for the mission to have a presence and obtain a first-hand overview of the electoral process in a good portion of the Peruvian territory.

I wish to express my special thanks to the donors who supported the mission with financial contributions for two electoral rounds. Their support and interest was invaluable to the successful completion of the Electoral mission.

It has been my honor to serve the community of the Americas as the Chief of this Electoral Observation Mission. These types of exercises reaffirm the commitment and the interest of the entire interamerican community with democracy. In an era where electoral democracy is fortunately very much a reality in the majority of our countries, it is important, as the case of Peru shows, that each member state works on the improvement of voting and counting methods, as well as on addressing other issues concerning the quality of the democratic regimes, so that they are real frameworks for the construction of more equal, stronger and more developed societies all throughout our continent.

I wish to close with a quote by former Canadian Prime Minister Pierre Elliot Trudeau, with whom I had the honour to serve. On the occasion of the patriation of our constitution in 1982, which was one of Trudeau’s greatest political achievements and in which I had the privilege to be a part of, he said, and I quote: “For what we are celebrating today is not so much the completion of our task, but the renewal of our hope -- not so much an ending, but a fresh beginning.” End quote.

The passion and commitment of Peruvians in defending and promoting their democracy certainly renews my hope in the strength and resilience of democratic practices in our hemisphere. The Peruvian People have earned a fresh beginning and it is my sincere hope that the international community will support them in their undertaking. I know I will.

July 9, 2006.