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Nov 27, 2010 News
…Jagdeo wants ‘uncompromising’ implementation
Presidents of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR) yesterday stamped a “Democracy Clause” into the founding principles of integration and defence, giving weight to the Georgetown meeting of the 12-nation grouping.
The “Democracy Clause” is a direct result of the recent unrest in Ecuador when President Rafael Correa was virtually kidnapped for hours by protesting members of the police force. He was eventually freed by Army troops.
The Clause seeks to prevent the reoccurrence of any such event in any of UNASUR’s member countries.
President Bharrat Jagdeo, who accepted the UNASUR Presidency from Correa yesterday, was quick to call for “uncompromising” implementation.
“We must not change our position based on the ideology of the countries that are subjected to a disruption of the democratic order,” Jagdeo declared.
If there is a challenge to democratic order in any country, UNASUR could agree to these sanctions: suspension of the right to participate in the various bodies and branches of UNASUR, as well as the suspension of the rights and benefits enjoyed under the Constitutive Treaty of UNASUR; partial or complete closure of land borders, including the suspension and/or limitation of trade.
Air and maritime traffic, communications and provision of energy, services and supplies could be restricted.
The Clause advocates the suspension of the affected State in the ambit of other regional and international organisations; calls for the countries to promote, with third countries and/or regional blocs, the suspension of the rights and/or benefits enjoyed by the affected State under the co-operation agreements to which it is party; and the adoption of additional political and diplomatic sanctions.
Jagdeo said what would give UNASUR “character” is its ability to take action, including the upholding of democracy.
He said that character was showed this year when UNASUR stood behind Correa and his government and against those who sought to overthrow the government chosen by the Ecuadorean people.
“We should ask ourselves: What must UNASUR do to create a South America democratic identity that helps to make democracy so entrenched in our societies that nobody in any of our countries would even contemplate taking power in any other way,” Jagdeo told his fellow South American heads.
He added: “We’re no longer a continent that is associated with dictators. Look around South America now. Every single one of our countries is governed by a democratically elected leader and our adoption of the Democracy Clause will show that we mean it when we say that there is no longer a role for anti-democratic forces in the government of any South American country.”
Jagdeo told his counterparts in UNASUR that if they want citizens to feel a strong continental bond, they (the people) need to be able to “identify with our transcontinental institutions and to believe that they have a stake in how these institutions are run.”
The President called for UNASUR to do whatever is left to establish the UNASUR Parliament or to coordinate the bloc’s legislative efforts if that is undesirable and be uncompromising in implementing the Democracy Clause.
The Clause was signed by Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Guyana, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, Uruguay and Venezuela.
The clause was structured against the background that leaders considered that the Constitutive Treaty of UNASUR provides that the full validity of democratic institutions and unwavering respect for human rights are conditions that are essential for building a common future of peace and economic and social prosperity and for developing integration processes among Member States.
By agreeing to the Clause, leaders reiterated their commitment to the promotion, defence and protection of democratic order, rule of law and its institutions, human rights and fundamental freedoms as essential and indispensable conditions for the development of their integration process and a vital requirement for their participation in UNASUR.
The Democracy Clause would apply in the event of a breach or threat of breach against the democratic order, a violation of the constitutional order or any situation that jeopardises the legitimate exercising of power and the application of the values and principles of democracy.
When one of the situations presented in the previous article arises, the Council of Heads of State and Government or, in its absence, the Council of Ministers of Foreign Affairs would meet, in an extraordinary session.
This meeting would consider by consensus, the nature and scope of the measures to be applied.
In addition to applying sanctions in the case of the overthrown of democratic governments, UNASUR would seek to take diplomatic steps to promote the restoration of democracy in the affected country.
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