OAS Holds Special Meeting on the Inter-American Democratic Charter

Ambassador Francisco O. Mora addresses the OAS Permanent Council, May 30, 2023.

Remarks by Ambassador Francisco O. Mora
Special Meeting of the OAS Permanent Council on “Implementation of all aspects of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and its challenges”
May 30, 2023

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, for convening this very useful and timely discussion to consider “implementation of all aspects of the Inter-American Democratic Charter and its challenges.” This is important as we consider the theme of our upcoming General Assembly, and the vast array of thinking that has advanced in recent years related to implementation and use of the Democratic Charter.

I also want to welcome the strong support of our fellow delegations of Canada, Peru, Guyana and Costa Rica who have worked with the United States in support of today’s meeting.

Mr. Chair, in October of 2021 in Ecuador, Secretary of State Blinken said “the common thread that runs through every part of U.S. policy, domestic and foreign, is the need to make democracy work for all people.”

Colleagues, I think we can all agree that we need an Organization that responds effectively and consistently to regional crises – and promotes meaningful cooperation on shared interests.

Recent events have placed the OAS front and center on the world stage over the past year.

In the current era of increasing authoritarianism, democratic norms and institutions are under intensifying threat – and this meeting is an opportunity to urge for renewed focus on implementing and upholding the principles of the Democratic Charter.

With this in mind, we want – we need – the OAS to address democratic backsliding by following through on commitments to make governments serve every citizen.

Governments must emphasize efforts to advance the effective implementation of the Democratic Charter, adopted on that fateful September 11th of 2001 in Peru, as well as the Inter-American Action Plan on Democratic Governance, adopted at the Ninth Summit of the Americas in Los Angeles last year.

As Secretary Blinken put it at the last OAS General Assembly in Lima, “we have to recommit to delivering on the core principles of our OAS and Inter American Democratic Charters.”

The various ideas proposed today are urgently needed in our region. Many of these approaches were also underscored at the recent second Summit for Democracy which President Biden co-hosted along with Costa Rica, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, and Zambia. The OAS played a role and voice at that Summit on issues of Democratic Charter follow-up.

Mr. Chair, as we heard again today — following the adoption of the Democratic Charter in 2001, countries from across the hemisphere have been in favor of introducing a mechanism for implementing Article 14 of the Democratic Charter. This would allow member states to review periodically the actions adopted and carried out by the OAS to promote dialogue on democracy, and to take the appropriate measures to further those objectives.

Compatible positions have also surfaced over the last two decades on the need to boost the OAS’ preventive capacity, mechanisms, and actions for strengthening and preserving democratic institutions and judicial independence; to act in advance, appropriately and in a timely fashion; and to avert democratic crises.

With this in mind, colleagues, the United States is committed to advancing new proposals and ideas for next month’s General Assembly. In particular, I think we can make very good progress on the following four ideas:

Establishment of a new mechanism that would systematize and facilitate the preparation of periodic reports on the state of democracy in the region, using guidelines or parameters set by us, the member states, that adhere to the essential elements of democracy and the fundamental components of the exercise of democracy that the Democratic Charter proclaims.

The establishment of a peer review process, on a voluntary basis; and the compilation of a compendium of best practices to foster sharing of progress made, experience, and lessons learned with respect to democratic governance.

Consideration of the appointment, by member states via the General Assembly or this Council, of a Special Rapporteur, Ombudsman, High Commissioner, or Special Envoy, who would be independent of the Secretary General. Such a figure could keep systematic, well-informed track of political processes in each country and open room for dialogue and channels of communication with a series of political, social, and economic players in each country, with a view to prevention.

Updating of the dormant Inter-American program on education in democratic values/human rights. This effort, which could include the Inter-American Institute for Human Rights, would focus on training of young people and newly-elected legislators related to intersectional approaches to strengthen judicial independence and rule of law, including gender equity and equality;

Mr. Chair, these needed proposals reflect the reality that sustained and effective preventive action in support of democracy avoids having to activate the defense and punitive mechanisms contemplated in the Democratic Charter and avoids the costs associated with an interruption of the democratic order, not only for the state concerned, but also for this Organization.

Taken together, progress on the above proposals provides a basis for more effective early warning — as well as strengthening of the Democratic Charter as a tool for promoting and consolidating democracy, judicial independence and rule of law.

Simply put, these efforts give greater impetus to the role, mechanisms, and instruments of the OAS in accompanying countries in efforts to strengthen democratic institutions and in providing advisory services, assistance, and technical support.

Colleagues, the United States believes strongly that we all benefit from a capable, effective, and responsive OAS that is able to engage on all the issues we care about — from free and fair elections to social inclusion and gender equity.

I want to be very clear none of the ideas proposed during today’s session are incompatible with the concept of state sovereignty. They strengthen our work in support of the collective defense of democracy.

Let me close by sharing that, despite the region’s many pressing challenges, as Secretary Blinken has said, “There’s no threat we face that better democracy, more democracy, cannot fix.”

Thank you again. My government looks forward to working with all interested delegations on the way forward, in the consideration of new text for the OAS General Assembly.