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United States to Host June 5-7 Inter-American Meeting in Florida

Inter-American States Pledge To Strengthen Benefits of Democracy

Posted: June 6, 2005 (Updated: June 8, 2005)

Washington -- The 34 countries that will participate in a June 5-7 inter-American meeting in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, have pledged their mutual cooperation to better deliver the benefits of democracy to the Western Hemisphere.

The pledge, made in a "Declaration of Florida," issued June 1, restates a theme of the Fort Lauderdale meeting of the General Assembly of the Organization of American States (OAS) that democracy is the best political system for guaranteeing human rights and achieving social and economic development. The United States is hosting the OAS General Assembly meeting of the region's foreign ministers for the first time since 1974.

The declaration calls on the OAS Permanent Council to develop "further means" of ensuring that civil society organizations can present their views and advice to the OAS on a "systematic and regular basis" on issues pertinent to the Inter-American Democratic Charter.

The Inter-American Democratic Charter, adopted in September 2001, declares that "the peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it."

The June 1 declaration said the OAS secretary-general will develop a draft plan of action for strengthening the Charter, and that the OAS Permanent Council should examine how it can address threats to democracy "in a timely fashion, anticipating crises that might undermine democracy."

The full text of the declaration is available on the OAS Web site.

The U.S. mission to the OAS said in a March 9 working paper that the Inter-American Democratic Charter "sets forth basic principles for preserving and consolidating democracy in the hemisphere." The charter is a "firm commitment" by the OAS member states "to help all citizens of the Americas claim their democratic freedoms," the U.S. paper said.

It added that alleviating poverty cannot succeed "without sustained economic growth, which in turn requires good governance."

At the upcoming November 2005 Summit of the Americas in Mar de Plata, Argentina, the countries of the Western Hemisphere "should reinforce our collective efforts toward creating sustainable jobs through policies that promote more competitive economies, attract investment, and foster private sector-led growth," the U.S. paper said.

John Maisto, U.S. permanent representative to the OAS, said in April 11 remarks that "delivering the benefits of democracy" was chosen as the theme for the Fort Lauderdale meeting because the "hemisphere has now entered a new democratic era." With the exception of Cuban dictator Fidel Castro's regime, elected governments in the region are the norm, he said. (See related article.)

"This hemispheric consensus in favor of democracy is a truly extraordinary achievement," said Maisto. "Given the state of play elsewhere in the world even today, it is not a consensus to be taken lightly."

The OAS General Assembly in Fort Lauderdale will be chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. The United States last hosted the OAS event 31 years ago in Atlanta, Georgia.

Eric Green
Washington File Staff Writer

Related items:

  • Rice Urges Accountability for Undemocratic Hemispheric Leaders
  • Bush Says Democracy Is Route to Prosperity in the Americas
  • Leaders state importance of Inter-American Democratic Charter
  • State's Noriega, Maisto call Inter-American Ministers' Meeting a success
  • Declaration of Florida: The Benefits of Democracy


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