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TitleCollective Defense of Democracy: Concepts and - The Carter Center
LanguageEnglish
File Size261.1 KB
Total Pages121
Document Text Contents
Page 1

1

Analytical Review and Recommendations

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2

Shelley A. McConnell and Jennifer McCoy

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Pedro Nikken Bellshaw-Hógg

submit a report to the Permanent Council, which will un-
dertake a collective assessment of the situation and, where
necessary, may adopt decisions for the preservation of the
democratic system and its strengthening

Here also a distinction is made between (A) the justifying event
for the implementation of the article quoted; and (B) the putting
into practice of collective action mechanisms for the strengthening and
preservation of democratic institutionality.

A. Justifying event

The situation at hand must be one that may affect the develop-
ment of the democratic political institutional process or the legiti-
mate exercise of power. To accurately describe this type of situa-
tion it is necessary, first of all, to employ a negative method of
analysis– that is, to define what scenarios do not fall under the
purview of article 18 of the IDC. Secondly, a positive approach
must be undertaken, with the aim of identifying when a particular
situation is indeed such that it may affect the development of the
democratic political institutional process or the legitimate exercise
of power.

If the first method is used, article 18 does not apply, in prin-
ciple, when the procedure put forth in article 17 is already under-
way, unless (a) the affected government, despite having requested
assistance from the OAS to attend to “a grave risk to the demo-
cratic political institutional process”, has failed to comply with
conditions that the Secretary General or the Permanent Council
have considered necessary for providing the attention sought; or
(b) the crisis of democracy has worsened to the point that, in the
judgment of the Secretary General or the Permanent Council, the

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Definitions for the Application of the IDC

61

provisions adopted under article 17 are insufficient to resolve it in
a satisfactory manner.

Nor would article 18 be applicable if the existing situation goes
beyond the mere risk of “affecting the development of the demo-
cratic political institutional process or the legitimate exercise of
power”, or if events constitute “an alteration of the constitutional
order that seriously affects the democratic order” or a rupture of
the democratic order. In such a situation, articles 20 and 21 of the
IDC would be applicable, in the general framework of the Demo-
cratic Clause contained in article 19.

B. Procedure

The initiative to adopt the first actions for preserving democratic
institutionality is to be taken by the Secretary General or Perma-
nent Council, who must have the prior consent of the govern-
ment concerned. Considering that this is a scenario in which the
government has not requested assistance from the OAS based on
article 17 of the IDC, the requirement of prior consent cannot be
seen otherwise than as a manifestation of the restrictions placed
on collective action and the reservations, indeed the suspicion,
with which it is seen, given that it may constitute a vehicle for
undue interference in the internal affairs of the states.

If the government of the affected state does give its consent,
then, in a first phase, the Secretary General or Permanent Council
may arrange for visits and other actions for the purpose of analyz-
ing the situation. No explicit reference is made to the nature of
these “other actions”, but the very broadness of the terms em-
ployed in the IDC indicates that these may comprise diplomatic

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Carlos Ayala Corao

120

ple based on its own achievements. Democracy cannot be seen
only as a simple formula by which to elect leaders, but must rather
be comprehensive in nature, containing all the essential elements
described in the IDC. Thus democracy must not be defended only
in the collective or international sphere, since it also, first and fore-
most, must be capable of being defended and deepened by its own
citizens. It is citizens who must take ownership of and responsibil-
ity for their democracy. But for this to be possible, democracy must
in turn allow for participation by its citizens in public affairs and
the supervision of the conduct of their political leaders.

Democracy must allow for the solving of daily problems and
deficiencies that affect all citizens, and in Latin America the poor
in particular. Otherwise, it incurs the risk of being rendered mean-
ingless to its citizens, and specifically to the poor and excluded. It
is worth bringing up the 2004 UNDP Report titled “Democracy in
Latin America: Towards a Citizen’s Democracy”, which contains a
series of warnings well worth taking into account. Among these is
the fact that poverty continues to be a structural reality in most
Latin American countries, where between 25% and 50% of the
population live at or beneath critical levels. This situation of im-
poverishment is a paradox that contrasts with the progress made in
having democratically elected governments. The UNDP report
shows that popular support for democracy is beginning to erode in
Latin America, as citizens express their disappointment at the fail-
ure of democracy to provide solutions to their social and econom-
ic problems. According to the report, 54% of citizens would be
willing to live in an authoritarian system if it could only solve their
economic problems, 44% do not believe that democracy is capable
of dealing with the problems their country faces, and 43% agree
that presidents are entitled to break the law.

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International Mechanisms for the Collective Protection of Democracy in the IDC

121

It is therefore necessary to make the transition from an electoral
democracy to a comprehensive democracy, that is to say a politi-
cal, social, economic and cultural democracy as conceived of in
the IDC, within the framework of the rule of law and with respect
for human rights. Only thus will democracy be truly one of citizen
participation at its origin, its exercise, and its defense, both nation-
ally and internationally.

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