PERMANENT COUNCIL OF THE ORGANIZATION OF AMERICAN STATES
OEM/Ser.G CE/GCI-8/95 rev.1
REPORT OF THE UNIT FOR THE PROMOTION OF DEMOCRACY TO THE SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON INTER-AMERICAN SUMMITS MANAGEMENT
September 22, 1995
The present report has been prepared in order to provide the Special Committee on Inter-American Summits Management with a progress report on the efforts of the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy (UPD) to implement initiatives related to democratic development, as outlined in the December 1994 Summit of the Americas Plan of Action. In both the Summit Plan and in a subsequent resolution adopted by the OAS General Assembly at Montrouis (AG/RES 1349), the UPD is identified as one of the key mechanisms within the OAS for the support of Member States in their efforts of democratic consolidation and the overall strengthening of democracy in the hemisphere.
II. The Unit for the Promotion of Democracy
The Unit for the Promotion of Democracy was established by the Secretary General of the OAS via Executive Order No. 90-3 of October 15, 1990, in conformity with the mandate emanating from Resolution AG/RES 1063 (XX-0/90) adopted by the General Assembly. The UPD has the responsibility of implementing the "Support Programme for the Promotion of Democracy", approved by the Permanent Council in its resolution CP/RES 572 (882/91), whose objective is to provide requesting Member States with advisory services and technical assistance to support the preservation and/or strengthening of their political institutions and democratic processes. The UPD's main areas of action have been the strengthening of electoral institutions and processes (including election observation), strengthening of legislative institutions, and activities related to democratic education.
In April 1995, in response to the mandates emanating from the Summit of the Americas and the interest for renewal and reform within the Organization, the Secretary General presented a Working Paper to the Permanent Council entitled "A New Vision of the OAS". With respect to the UPD, this document outlined a series of possibilities for the consolidation and broadening of its support to Member States in the area of democratization. In order to better prepare the Unit for evolving responsibilities and an increased role in democracy promotion as requested by the Member States, the Secretary General produced Executive Order No. 95-6 in July of this year which formalized the re-organization of the UPD into the following programmes and areas of service:
1. Office of the Executive Coordinator
III. The UPD and the Summit of the Americas
"The strengthening, effective exercise and consolidation of democracy constitute the central political priority of the Americas. The Organization of American States (OAS) is the principal hemispheric body for the defense of democratic values and institutions; among its essential purposes is to promote and consolidate representative democracy, with due respect to the principal of non-intervention. The OAS has adopted multilateral procedures to address the problems created when democratic order has been interrupted unconstitutionally. In order to prevent such crises, the OAS needs to direct more effort toward the promotion of democratic values and practices and to the social and economic strengthening of already-established democratic regimes."
SUMMIT OF THE AMERICAS PLAN OF ACTION
The conclusions and the directives emanating from the Summit of the Americas have impacted in various ways on the activities and overall functioning of the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy.
Firstly, the Summit addressed strengthening of the Unit as an institution, in order to permit it to better respond to the established priorities and demands of Member States.
Secondly, the Summit reaffirmed the Unit's mandate in several key areas where it was already active in supporting Member States, such as support for government reforms and legislative processes.
Thirdly, the Summit document evoked the need for attention and OAS assistance in several additional areas related to democratic development in which the UPD could play a role. In fact, in the Secretary's General "New Vision" document, an attempt was made to bring various tasks and areas of priority linked to the strengthening of democracy and outlined at the Summit into a revitalized and expanded mandate for the UPD.
IV. UPD Activities related to the guidelines of the Summit of the Americas
1. Strengthening the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy to provide assistance on legislative and judicial processes, government reforms and other institutional changes.
Assistance on legislative and judicial processes
BOLIVIA - As part of the project, "Improvement of the Legislative Process", the UPD has continued its support of Bolivian legislators familiarizing themselves with this institution, via a conference centering on three of its principal functions: i) general research; ii) budget research; and iii) the codification of existing laws. In addition, the UPD is supporting the realization of a series of training seminars including themes such as the modernization of the legislative power, the effects of the popular participation law on the general budget of the Nation, and the codification and systematization of laws. The program consultants are also providing technical assistance on the organization and administration of the services provided by CICON (Center for Research of the National Congress). Participants in the seminars include members of congress and CICON staff.
URUGUAY - As part of the project, "Modernization of Parliamentary Activity", the UPD continued its support for the strengthening of the Uruguayan parliament. The objective of the project is to promote debate as well as the creation and diffusion of knowledge about the functioning of parliament, its public image and the mechanisms that facilitate or hinder the achievement of political consensus.
ARGENTINA - Through the project, "Improvements in Legislatures", the UPD has collaborated with the Center for Legislative Studies and Cooperation (CECOL), as well as with provincial legislatures, in order to support improvements in the organization, functioning and public image of parliaments.
CHILE - The UPD has continued supporting the project "Strengthening of Legislative Technical Assistance to Latin American Countries". The project's objective is to undertake a series of national studies on systems of legislative technical assistance and their needs, in order to develop general guidelines on forms of "horizontal" technical assistance which could contribute to strengthen and modernize the organization and functioning of national legislatures.
COLOMBIA - In the framework of the project, "Challenges to Democratization: The Role of National Legislatures in the Andean Region", a series of studies are being undertaken by the University of the Andes on the different obstacles which are confronted by the national legislatures of the Andean countries. The studies will form the basis for a seminar on the subject, bringing together legislators, legislative staff, academics, students, civil servants and others.
TRINIDAD AND TOBAGO/CARIBBEAN - The UPD is currently studying a proposal of support for the establishment and realization of a course on legislative drafting techniques, for the benefit of legislative staff both from Trinidad and Tobago and from elsewhere in the Caribbean region.
HAITI - Following a request by the Haitian Government, a survey has been undertaken of initiatives that could be supported to strengthen legislature and/or political parties in Haiti. The survey will be followed up with the implementation of a project targeting this area, likely focussing on training sessions for newly elected legislators.
REGIONAL PARLIAMENTS - The UPD has been liaising with regional parliaments such as PARLACEN and the Andean Parliament in order to ascertain areas of mutual interest and support.
GOVERNMENT REFORMS AND OTHER INSTITUTIONAL CHANGES
BOLIVIA - The UPD has supported the conducting of a study on the "Registro Unico Nacional" (Single National Register) in Bolivia. The study identifies the problems and necessities of this system in judicial, administrative, technical and procedural terms. The study proposes as a solution the re-engineering of the system through long- and short-term strategies.
PARAGUAY - The UPD, in collaboration with the IDB, has supported the conducting of a study on required technical assistance for the Paraguayan civil registry. A series of specific technical assistance proposals have been devised and are being initiated to assist in the modernization of the civil registry as well as the creation of an integrated system of national registries. The initiative forms part of a larger program entitled, "Strengthening and Modernization of the Democratic Institutions of Paraguay", which also includes components such as the provision of technical assistance for the strengthening of the legislative advisory services of Congress and modernization of its computer information system, technical support for the Vice-Presidency and technical assistance for the development of curricula, teaching materials and the realization of training seminars on methods of teaching democratic values in the school system (this last initiative is being undertaken in conjunction with the Argentine horizontal cooperation program).
BRAZIL, PARAGUAY - The UPD has recently received proposals from these two countries to assist in the strengthening of local/municipal government and other local structures.
2. Encouraging exchanges of election-related technologies and assisting national electoral organizations
Within the UPD's Technical Electoral Assistance Programme, a mobile team of highly qualified technicians have been identified to assist the Unit in addressing an ever-increasing demand on the part of Member States for support to the strengthening of national electoral organizations. The experience gained by these technicians, always working in tandem with local counterparts, has served to stimulate the exchange of election-related methodologies, procedures and technologies among Member States. Additionally, wherever possible, the UPD encourages and facilitates "horizontal cooperation" among countries in this area.
ASSISTANCE TO NATIONAL ELECTORAL ORGANIZATIONS
PERU - The UPD has been continuing its technical assistance support in Peru, and is currently finalizing three major projects with the official organs of the Peruvian electoral system, principally with the Jurado Nacional de Elecciones (JNE): a project for the cleaning up of the electoral registry, which has handed over to the JNE a prototype for a modern Electoral Registration System; a training project, and a "legal" project to assist Peru in undertaking modifications to the Organic Electoral Law.
ECUADOR - Following a recent survey mission to this country, the UPD is preparing to initiate a project of support to the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE), consisting essentially of support for the cleaning up and administration of the electoral registry by the TSE and for the reprogramming of the national and provincial vote counting systems.
BOLIVIA - The UPD has initiated two principal assistance programmes with the National Council of Elections (CNE): i) revision of the legal and regulatory framework of the civil registry, the setting of its procedural standards, preparatory work for the computerization of its data base, and its articulation with the electoral registry; ii) strengthening the links between citizens and political parties, via the preparation of a civic education program.
CHILE - The UPD is assisting in the creation of an Electoral Documentation and Information Center.
HONDURAS - The UPD is sending an expert to Honduras to assist the National Electoral Tribunal (TNE) in formulating a strategy for the cleaning of the national registry as it pertains to births and deaths. The expert will also assess the computer hardware and software needs of the TNE and review its methodology for the implementation of the "voto domiciliario".
PARAGUAY - The UPD is initiating a three-fold programme of technical assistance to the Superior Tribunal of Electoral Justice (TSJE). This will include assistance in the areas of institutional strengthening (support for the new institutional structure, as designed by newly approved legislation; suggestions and recommendations regarding timetables and planning for the registration process to be undertaken by the TSJE for the creation of a new "Registro Cívico Permanente", etc.); support for the preparation of a computer and communications plan at the national level, for the administration of the various processes of the electoral system; and assistance in the design of a training programme for TSJE personnel and others involved in the electoral system. The UPD has also been asked to provide monitoring for the registration process.
SURINAME - Through the project, "Modernization of the Independent Electoral Council", the Special Mission to Suriname has initiated a technical assistance project which aims to modernize the entire electoral apparatus. The project includes training workshops and equipment to ensure more efficient verification of voters' lists, the simplification of vote counting, the quick count and the production of electoral statistics.
3. Encouraging opportunities for exchange of experiences among Member States's democratic institutions
The UPD is lending its support, jointly with the IDB, for the realization of a Ministerial-level technical meeting to exchange experiences and knowledge and explore mechanisms for cooperation and harmonization among countries of the region, in the area of strengthening and compatibilization of civil registry systems.
The UPD has also been assisting the Ministers of Education of the MERCOSUR countries to organize a meeting (to be held this month) with the objective of attempting to harmonize curricula for the teaching and promotion of democratic values in the schools.
In conjunction with the World Bank, IDB and other entities, the UPD has organized two "Inter-American Mayors Conferences",s the second of which is scheduled to take place in March 1996. These conferences have the objective of bringing together key mayors from the region, leaders from municipal associations, members of congress who work on municipal issues and other actors, for an exchange of experiences on issues related to local government. The March conference will highlight the issue of the importance of decentralization.
4. Fostering understanding, dialogue and political reconciliation
GUATEMALA - At the request of the Guatemalan Government, the UPD has designed and is initiating the implementation of a programme for the prevention and peaceful resolution of conflicts at the community level in Guatemala.
NICARAGUA - At the request of the Nicaraguan Government, an additional year of operations of the CIAV-Nicaragua program has been initiated. This program's prime objective has been support for the re-insertion of e x-combatants to civilian life and the promotion of political reconciliation. The program has three main components: i) Human rights monitoring and verification; ii) Tripartite Commission on Human Rights; and iii) Institutional Support Program.
5. Building Mutual Confidence
In the Summit Plan of Action, the expansion and consolidation of democracy in the Americas is linked to the strengthening of mutual confidence.
The UPD has been collaborating with the Central American Security Commission and the General Secretariat of the Central American Integration System (SICA) for the organization of a series of seminars in the region on the New Concept of Security.
The UPD in collaboration with the Inter-American Defense Board has also been assisting Central American countries (Nicargua, Honduras) in their efforts at demining their territory.
Demining is a principal concern of the Central American countries and their efforts have promoted cooperation among governments and the military of the Member States and is an example of mutual confidence building.
6. Other potential areas of support for democratic strengthening
The Summit Plan of Action calls upon regional and international organizations to "intensify their programmes in favour of women". It also encourages states to promote participation of women in political decision-making.
The Summit Plan of Action also recalls that "a strong and diverse civil society...gives depth and durability to democracy". In the same section, it underlines the importance of states taking steps to "improve the participation in social activities and initiatives of groups traditionally marginalized, including women, indigenous people and the extremely poor".
In response to growing enquiries from Member States and upon request by the Secretary General, the UPD is exploring how it might respond to the challenge of assisting Member States in the enhancement of the participation of women and indigenous people in the democratic process.
V. Inter-Institutional Cooperation
The Summit of the Americas Plan of Action evokes the importance of collaboration among like minded institutions of the Americas. With respect to the UPD, it is currently exploring ways in which to strengthen relations and cooperation with appropriate entities within the Secretariat as well as with appropriate external institutions. As mentioned above, joint projects and collaboration are already being undertaken with institutions such as the IDB, World Bank, and various national institutions in the hemisphere. In a recent meeting held between the UPD/OAS, IDB, UNDP, UNESCO and the World Bank, a strategy was laid out to increase the sharing of information, seek complementarity in our efforts, and explore additional forms of joint collaboration in the broad area of democratic governance.
Entire contents © 1998 Organization of American States, Office of Summit Follow-Up