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The Inter-American Democratic Charter

  • The Charter was adopted by acclamation at an extraordinary General Assembly of the OAS held in Lima on September 11, 2001.
  • The attacks of the same date against the United States affected the adoption of the Charter. The United States Secretary of State, Colin Powell, requested that the order of business for the Assembly were reversed to immediately fly back to his country. Thus, they voted first and then foreign ministers delivered their speeches, starting with Powell himself.
  • It was a mandate from the Third Summit of the Americas, held in April 2001 in Quebec, Canada. There, the Heads of State and Government of the Hemisphere instructed the foreign ministers to prepare a letter that would strengthen "the OAS instruments for the active defense of representative democracy".
  • It is recognized as one of the most complete inter-American instruments, enacted for the promotion and strengthening of the principles, practices and democratic culture among the states of the Americas.
  • The main background is Resolution 1080, passed in 1991, which for the first time enabled the OAS, in case of rupture of constitutional order, or coup, to take sanctions and measures it deemed appropriate.
  • The ability to sanction Member States that suffer institutional, repeated and extended breaks in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, is unprecedented in the world: even today, only in the Americas (OAS and sub-regional organizations that have adopted the so-called "clause democratic ") it is legally contemplated.
  • The Charter was strongly driven by Peru in the OAS since the transitional government in 2000, at the suggestion of then Prime Minister Javier Perez de Cuellar and subsequently by President Alejandro Toledo, his Foreign Minister Diego Garcia-Sayan and then Permanent Representative to the OAS, former Foreign Minister Manuel Rodriguez Cuadros.
  • The Charter is divided into six chapters: I) Democracy and the Inter-American system II) Democracy and Human Rights, III) Democracy, Integral Development and Combating Poverty, IV) Strengthening and Preservation of Democratic Institutions, V) Democracy and Electoral Observation Missions, VI) Promotion of a Democratic Culture.
  • Until now, Chapter IV of the Democratic Charter has been invoked ten times. Seven times was applied preventively to avoid the escalation of political and institutional crisis, which could have jeopardized the democratic process or the legitimate exercise of power and lead to rupture of the democratic order. In two other cases the Charter applied in moments considered as ruptures of the democratic order. And for the first time recently and it was applied on the basis of Article 20.

Reference: S-014/16