NEW YORK – Latin America continues to lack an effective overall mechanism that will guarantee the sustainability of democracy, an element that constitutes a challenge to the region that it must overcome in the short-term.
This was the conclusion reached by participants in the fifth panel scheduled during the Global Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean, a special event that is being held in New York City with the support of the Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD); its sister institution in the Dominican Republic, the Fundación Global Democracia y Desarrollo (Funglode); Idea Internacional, the Latin American Studies Institute/Columbia University, and the CEPAL. Various former presidents and experts from various countries and institutions are also participating in the Forum.
Panel moderator Massimo Tammasoli, executive from the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (IDEA Internacional), stated that the legal framework constitutes a valuable instrument for the democratic sustainability of all regions of the world.
At the same time, panel member Luis Almagro, Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), said that the organization’s Democratic Charter is the true Constitution of the Americas, and instrument that establishes the guidelines of how the system should work in the continent.
Almagro indicated that all nations in the hemisphere must feel equally protected with the effective application of the OAS Democratic Charter, which respects the rules of the game and implements policies that will further strengthen the democratic processes.
According to Almagro, the OAS Democratic Charter establishes the fundamental elements of democracy including the multi-party system, freedom of expression, respect for human rights and the optimum capacity of the democratic institutions.
“These are essential elements that we have to defend democracy,” said Almagro. He also highlighted that the OAS comes into action when a particular State does not have the capacity to guarantee the preservation of democracy on its own.
“The value of the International and Regional Democratic Instruments to Guarantee Sustainable Democracies” was the panel’s central theme. Aside from Tammasoli and Almagro, other participants included Yves Leterme, Secretary General of IDEA Internacional; Christopher Sabatini, Columbia University; and Thomas Garrett, Secretary General of the global intergovernmental coalition Community of Democracies.
In his intervention, Yves Leterme stated that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights plays an important global framework that contributes to the sustainability of democracies, and explained that the majority of the United Nations member countries are committed to the application of the abovementioned mechanism.
At the same time, Thomas Garrett expressed his belief that the necessary mechanisms should be created so that the Latin American and Caribbean regions can successfully face the challenges that must be overcome to preserve democracy.
Panelist Christopher Sabatini maintained that recent experiences reflect a drop in the levels of trust in the region’s electoral systems, elements that require a rapid response to the system’s key players.
Panel participants coincided in highlighting the importance that the regional nations play in the introduction of best practices in the management of democratic institutions.
The Global Forum for Latin America and the Caribbean continues with its ongoing agenda, which includes a high-level panel with former Presidents Leonel Fernández, of the Dominican Republic; Vinicio Cerezo, from Guatemala and Carlos Mesa, from Bolivia. Also, Isabel de Saint Malo de Alvarado, Vice President of Panama and Jorge Castañeda, former Mexican Foreign Minister.
The panel, number six on the Forum’s agenda, was moderated by Daniel Zovatto, IDEA International’s Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean.