Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Anniversary of a Charter. (OAS)

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Anniversary of a Charter. (OAS)

Article excerpt

AT THE OAS to mark the first anniversary of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, President Alejandro Toledo of Peru underscored the need to develop "a true democratic culture in our countries" and to ensure that all citizens have a voice in decision-making.

The Democratic Charter--adopted in Lima, Peru, on September 11, 2001--represents not an end in itself, but the beginning of a long process, Toledo told a special session of the Permanent Council. "Now we have the challenge of moving toward more dynamic and integrated forms of democratic life in the Americas," he said.

The Peruvian president recalled that, the Democratic Charter was put to the test last April, when the countries of the hemisphere invoked it to condemn the "alteration of the constitutional order" in Venezuela. But he stressed that the Charter is not only a tool with which to react to a crisis, but also provides a framework for preventing crises and assisting countries that ask for help in strengthening democratic institutions.

"The Democratic Charter is the greatest institutional contribution the OAS has made in recent years," he said.

The Inter-American Democratic Charter grew out; of a Peruvian initiative, following what Toledo called a "dark decade" when his country was governed by "a dictatorial and corrupt regime." In April 2001, the presidents and prime ministers meeting in Quebec City for the Third Summit of the Americas mandated the Democratic Charter's creation and the countries began to negotiate a text.

In his remarks to the Permanent Council, Secretary General Cesar Gaviria called the Democratic Charter "a guide for democratic behavior, a manual of conduct."

"It demonstrates our profound commitment to democracy, but we cannot expect that it will resolve all the current problems or those that could arise in the future. That would be to underestimate the challenges that we have ahead of us," Gaviria said.

The Secretary General noted that many citizens in the Americas associate a range of problems with democracy, from deficiencies in education to the negative effects of globalization. He called for "a new political ethic" and a greater commitment to address social and economic issues, adding that citizens need to have their faith in public institutions restored. …

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