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    July 07

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IDEA, OAS deepen ties

rhondathompson, rhondathompson@nationnews.com

Added 22 September 2010

A STRATEGIC relationship between the Swedish-based International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) and the Organisation of American States (OAS) reached a new level with the signing of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the two bodies in Washington, DC, recently. The MOU was signed by the two secretaries-general Vidar Helgesen, for IDEA, and Jose Miguel Insulza, for the OAS. “We have cooperated long and well, and the stage has been reached where we both share the willingness and readiness to deepen our cooperation,” said Helgesen. The MOU establishes a more mature relationship between the two organisations, with a longer-term focus on impacts and results in the area of democracy, development and security in the Americas. In light of the importance of this partnership, International IDEA will commit financial resources to the partnership to allow some initial activities before the end of 2010. The OAS will match those funds, and a joint funding strategy will be elaborated to mobilise extra resources to deliver on the level of ambition. The main focal areas will be: • strengthening the Inter-American Democratic Charter; • finding means to tackle the funding of political parties, including illicit funding; • working together in the Caribbean; and • addressing gender issues. International IDEA observed that democracy in the region enjoyed significant levels of stability, popular support and legitimacy. It said no other formula of governance was seriously challenging the democratic option. “This is by no means a small accomplishment. Today, the debate in the region is not between democracy or authoritarianism: it is rather about the quality of democracy and how to build more and better citizenry; • it is about how to make the transition from an electoral democracy to a citizen and institution democracy; • it is about how to conciliate democracy with development within the context of societies with higher levels of social cohesion, and gender equity; • it is about how to look for a more strategic relationship between the market and the state, and a more functional relationship between the state and the society; • it is about how to make democracy meet the new types of demands that emerge from more complex, more modern, more urban societies; and • it is about how to make democracy function more efficiently within a global international context. (AB)

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