Media Center

Press Release


  April 22, 2003

A publication, “Inter-American Democratic Charter: Documents and Interpretations,” launched at Organization of American States (OAS) Headquarters today, hails the Inter-American Democratic Charter adopted in Lima, Peru, on September 11, 2001 as a milestone in the Hemisphere’s democratic history.

During a ceremony launching the book, edited by former Colombian Ambassador Humberto de la Calle, the speakers recalled the efforts by the Organization to ensure the Charter becomes “a navigation instrument” for member states.

Chairman of the OAS Permanent Council, Guyana’s Ambassador Odeen Ishmael, said the Charter is “not only a guide to all our countries on the tenets of democracy, but what is more significant is that it unambiguously states that any removal of a democratically elected government by non-constitutional means, including coups d’état, will not be tolerated by the member states of the OAS.”

Secretary General César Gaviria underscored the “giant step” taken in drafting and adopting the Charter, which was first invoked with satisfaction in Venezuela. “We are increasingly aware as we follow the trail blazed by the Inter-American Democratic Charter,” declared Gaviria. “The Charter’s great virtue lies in how it brings together economic, political and social problems and demonstrates that they are all concepts and ingredients vital to a democracy.”

For his part, Peru’s Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister, Ambassador Manuel Rodríguez Cuadros, gave a historical overview of the efforts that led to the Democratic Charter which, he said, is a substantive contribution to a structural perspective of democracy in how it links democracy to human rights, the fight against poverty and economic and social development.

Describing the Inter-American Democratic Charter as a sort of navigation chart that will influence concrete political processes to the extent that member states have the will, Ambassador Rodríguez Cuadros warned that “problems arise in Latin American democracies because of the growing contradiction between democracy and the failure of economic systems and policies to adequately raise the standard of living for the majority of citizens by way of income, jobs and welfare.”

For his part, the book’s editor, Ambassador de la Calle, described the Charter as an act of faith, reaffirmation and commitment. “The present reality is that, except for Cuba, representative democracy is being practiced by all the countries of the Hemisphere.” But he warned that after democratic practices become consolidated, concern then turns to the looming dangers, including the rigors of economic adjustment, poverty, the growing perception that corruption continues unabated, and insecurity.

“Inter-American Democratic Charter: Documents and Interpretations” was launched with delegations of the 34 OAS member states, Permanent Observers and special guests in attendance. The book is intended as a single collection that brings together documentation prior to and coming with the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and to launch the process of interpreting the Charter.

Reference: E-089/03