On the tenth anniversary of the adoption of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, we take note of Article 1 of the Charter: “the peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy, and our governments have an obligation to promote and defend it.” This language is a powerful affirmation of the region’s vision of democracy: not just as a system of government, but as a fundamental and practical responsibility of governments toward their citizens. As terrorists launched a brutal, senseless attack on the United States on September 11, 2001, 34 foreign ministers were working with common purpose on behalf of freedom and democracy.
During the past decade, in part because of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, democracy has continued to deepen throughout the hemisphere. While this occasion is a chance to celebrate all that we have accomplished, we should also remember that our work is not finished; there are still challenges to democracy. There is much more we can do together to translate the Charter’s common vision into common action.
The promotion of democratic rights and values remains a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. We understand that when we pursue our common goals together we thrive, and when democratic practice is threatened anywhere in the Americas, it harms all of us. That is why the United States remains a committed partner and supporter of the Organization of American States’ efforts to promote and defend democracy throughout the Americas. And the Democratic Charter provides a standard by which to gauge challenges to democracy in the Hemisphere, and to help member states where democratic practices or institutions are under threat. It is an example for democracy activists around the globe.
As we celebrate democracy’s advance, let us also recommit ourselves to our common goals, and to ensuring that the Democratic Charter remains the indispensable tool for the collective defense of democracy in our region.