Media Center

Press Release


  November 12, 2003

Experts from around the Americas are meeting at the headquarters of the Organization of American States (OAS) to explore priority strategies to bolster democratic governance in the region. The contributions and recommendations from this meeting will serve as a basis for devising a broad democratic governance program for the Americas.

Convened under the auspices of the OAS Unit for the Promotion of Democracy (UPD), the two-day meeting has brought together some 50 experts, including leaders from government, civil society, international institutions and academia.

Despite considerable gains in democracy in the Americas in recent years, “the fragile capacity of many of these democracies and their leaders to attend to the real needs of countless millions in terms of basic social, economic and cultural inclusions is threatening those gains and is even bringing us to serious situations of ingovernability in a number of cases,” UPD Executive Coordinator Elizabeth Spehar said at the opening of the meeting.

Spehar also stressed the importance of new resources for the needs ahead, given that democratic governance challenges were not only a question of political will but also a question of “having adequate means” to address a complex set of interrelated, deep-rooted issues, among them poverty, exclusion and inequities. Any commitment of new resources for this undertaking should place a priority on increasing transparency and fighting corruption, she argued.

In welcoming the experts, OAS Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi reiterated the urgent need to explore in greater depth the debates undertaken by the hemisphere’s foreign ministers during the last OAS General Assembly in Chile last June, when they adopted the “Santiago Declaration on Democracy and Public Trust: A New Commitment to Good Governance for the Americas.”

OAS Permanent Council Chairman, Honduran Ambassador Salvador Rodezno, meanwhile, referred to a variety of elements he says are involved in strengthening democratic governance in the Americas, noting they are ongoing priority areas on the Permanent Council’s agenda.

The meeting of experts centers around six working groups exploring governance as it relates to cooperation and integration; economic development; social development; state modernization; representative democracy; and human rights and public safety and security.

The meeting stems from a mandate from the foreign ministers, who asked the OAS to craft a Program of Democratic Governance in the Americas. This will be among the topics considered at the forthcoming Special Summit of the Americas, to be held in Mexico next January 12 and 13.

Reference: E-218/03