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OAS Permanent Council Continues Debate of Ideas on How to Strengthen the Inter-American Democratic Charter

  June 29, 2011

The Permanent Council of the Organization of American States (OAS) today held its second session of dialogue on how to strengthen the Inter-American Democratic Charter, in a special session focused on the first chapter of the document, titled, “Democracy and the Inter-American System.”

The six articles included in the first chapter define democracy as a right and a fundamental element for the development of the people of the Americas. It also specifies the basic requirements of a democracy and highlights the importance of citizen participation.

During the meeting, OAS Secretary General José Miguel Insulza congratulated the Permanent Representatives on furthering the discussion, and stressed the importance of the debate to acknowledge everybody’s right to express their opinions, as an essential part of democracy.

“A democratic form of government would not be necessary if all of us thought alike. Because we are aware that we are very different, we created a mechanism to guarantee that everybody’s opinion can be expressed,” he said. “When we say that the people have the right to democracy, we are saying that the people have the right to be part of the decision-making process, that no opinion is going to be rejected and especially that no opinion is going to be punished. The problem lies in dichotomies and absolutisms, not in opinions,” Secretary General Insulza added.

The head of the Hemispheric Organization also called attention to the fact that no group or individual should claim authority to speak on behalf of the citizenry, because they express their own opinion sovereignly every time they vote.

The dialogue on the Inter-American Democratic Charter being held by the Permanent Council during several sessions responds to a mandate issued in resolution 2555 of the 40th OAS General Assembly, in 2010 in Lima. In resolutive 14, the text instructs the Council to “organize and carry out a dialogue on the effectiveness of the implementation of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and to submit the results and/or progress of the same during 2011, to commemorate the 10th anniversary of its adoption.”

During today’s debate the Permanent Representatives of the following Member States took the floor: Argentina, El Salvador, Mexico, United States, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominica (on behalf of CARICOM), Peru, Haiti, Canada, Guatemala, Brazil, Venezuela, Honduras, Panama and Nicaragua.

These are some of the proposals mentioned to strengthen the Charter: to stress more vigorously that democracy is indispensable to be able to exercise liberties and human rights; to promote a common focus for analyzing the text; to develop a plan of action specifying case methods to implement the Charter; to create a working group to study and debate proposals and, if necessary, to determine how best to implement them; to create a compendium of “good practices” of what every country considers as positive contributions to democracy; to create a special rapporteurship on democracy; to create an “inter-pares” review system on democracy; to create an “early warning” system to prevent eventual violations of the Charter; and to establish voluntary review mechanisms for each country.

During the same session, following another mandate from the General Assembly and after a proposal by Peru, the Permanent Council agreed to create a special working group to analyze the work of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) with the aim of strengthening the Inter-American System of Human Rights. This group should present the Council with the results of its work at the first meeting of the Council in December 2011.

The Permanent Council also welcomed Ambassador Jorge Ramón Hernánez Alcerro, the new Permanent Representative of Honduras to the Organization, and bid farewell to the Permanent Representative of Grenada to the OAS, Ambassador Gillian Bristol, as Chair of the Council. According to the rules and procedures of the Council, after three months at the head of the body, Ambassador Bristol will be succeded on July 1st by the representative of Guatemala, Ambassador Jorge Skinner-Klee.

The full text of the Inter-American Democratic Charter can be found here.

A gallery of photos of the event is available here.

For more information, please visit the OAS Website at

Reference: E-746/11