Inter-American Democratic Charter, 2001

views updated

Inter-American Democratic Charter, 2001

The thirty-four members of the Organization of American States (OAS) unanimously adopted the Inter-American Democratic Charter on, by coincidence, September 11, 2001. Designed to reinforce the collective defense and promotion of democracy in the Western Hemisphere, the charter builds on Resolution 1080, adopted in 1991. Peruvian prime minister Javier Pérez de Cuéllar proposed the charter in 2000 to address threats to democracy falling short of the forceful overthrow of an elected government. Negotiations were convened by a declaration of leaders of the Western Hemisphere at the end of the Quebec City Summit of the Americas in April 2001.

The charter offers a broad definition of democracy and holds that "the peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it" (article 1). As a legally nonbinding document, it cannot be enforced without the political will of member states. Chapter IV of the charter adumbrates steps to be taken in the event of an unconstitutional alteration or interruption of a democratic regime. It does not specify what constitutes such an event, but a member state can, in principle, be suspended from the OAS if the General Assembly determines that democracy, and all diplomatic efforts to restore it, have failed.

See alsoOrganization of American States (OAS); Pérez de Cuéllar, Javier.


Axworthy, Lloyd, et al. Special issue on Inter-American Democratic Charter. Canadian Foreign Policy 10, no. 3 (2003): 1-116.

Organization of American States. Inter-American Democratic Charter. September 2001. Available from

                                     Maxwell A. Cameron

About this article

Inter-American Democratic Charter, 2001

Updated About content Print Article


Inter-American Democratic Charter, 2001