The Cusco Consensus « Democratic Governance : Defence and Consolidation of Democracy », May 2003
The Cusco Consensus
We, the Heads of State and Government of the countries integrating the permanent mechanism for consultation and concerted political action, gathered in the city of Cusco from 23-24 May 2003, for the XVII Summit of the Rio Group;
Aware of the challenges in view of fast-changing developments in the regional and international situation since our last summit, we reaffirm our decision to confront these challenges, in a coordinated manner, through concrete actions to improve the lives of our peoples.
We renew our conviction that shared principles and consensus embraced represent the historical treasures we have accumulated since the inception of our mechanism, which has been progressively strengthened since the Rio Declaration of 1986 ;
We believe that the expansion and increase of poverty, caused by a new and prolonged period of economic stagnation, poses a fundamental threat to democratic governance, to the stability of its institutions and to social peace. This situation particularly has its most devastating effects on the most vulnerable groups of society, denying them the opportunity to use their productive potential in full;
In this sense, we identify as the main mission of the Rio Group the strengthening of democratic governance by creating consensus to consolidate the democratic institutional order and alleviate the vulnerabilities confronting the region. Therefore, we have given special treatment to two thematic axes: 1) the role of political parties in the strengthening of democratic institutionality and 2) the creation of innovative financial mechanisms designed to secure democratic governance and contribute to the alleviation of poverty.
Likewise, we deem indispensable to reinforce the Rio Group's initiative to support the multilateral system for peace, security and development based on strict compliance with international law and firm adherence to the aims and principles of the UN Charter.
We therefore adopt this Consensus, which represents the strategic agenda for the activities of the Rio Group drafted out of reflections on the situation of Latin America and the Caribbean from their own perspective . This focus will intensify the process of consultation and concerted action launched by the Rio Group on problems that affect the region and on how to strengthen our participation within the international system.
STRATEGIC AGENDA FOR THE RIO GROUP ACTION (Excerpts)
Democratic Governance: Defense and Consolidation of Democracy
a) The Strengthening of Democracy and the Rule of Law
12. We reaffirm our commitment to consolidate and strengthen democracy, exercise its values, defend its institutions, as well as respect and promote human rights. We notice with satisfactio that our countries are currently experiencing the most extensive and deep process of democratization in their history. Never before did the region have so many democratically elected regimes nor as many consecutive democratic transitional governments.
13. We bear in mind that democracy and economic and social development are interdependent and mutually reinforced. To consolidate democratic institutionality, our countries need to include the poorer segments of the population in the gains stemming from the economic management, while strengthening social cohesion and governance. Therefore, it is a high priority and responsibility of our governments to tend to these needs and provide a solution to social exclusion-related problems. However, the efforts of our governments require the support of the international system, by means of measures, such as opening up market access to products from the region and increasing the flow of investments to the region.
14. We realize that only democratic governments that have succeeded in achieving a high level of governance can tend to the legitimate social needs of our people. At the same time, the strengthening of the rule of law, access to an effective and impartial justice, the enforcement of human rights and the establishment of national consensus will secure a greater degree of effectiveness in democratic governance. Within this framework, we renew our firm commitment to the validity and full application of the Inter-American Democratic Charter as an instrument to promote the development and strengthen representative democracy and favor citizen participation.
b) Democracy and Political Parties
15. The process to consolidate democracy in the region demands that we continue to establish more efficient political systems. In this sense, we intend to proceed in our continuing effort to reform the State, improve the quality and transparency of the public administration, consolidate the legitimacy of its institutions and guarantee respect for human rights. Moreover, to favor citizen participation, promote education for citizenship and democracy, fight corruption and impunity, as well as lead to the reform and strengthening of public authorities, particularly of the Judiciary, all of which should be enshrined within a concept of interculturality.
16. Parties system and political parties, as well as movements and groups play a central role in democracy. Consequently, it is necessary to strengthen starting from the premise that there is no democracy without parties or parties without democracy, while understanding that social and popular organizations are an essential factor for democratic participation in the frame of the Constitution of each of our countries. On this basis, we commit ourselves to put forth our greatest efforts, and when possible in a concerted manner, in order to:
a. Deepen and provide a platform for the development of dialogue and a consensus between political parties, movements and groups, as well as between them and the organized civil society.
b. Develop democracy's participatory approach, within the framework of their respective constitutional requirements, as a core element of pluralism. In addition, the participatory approach of democracy helps to further enhance its representativeness.
c. Promote partisan and electoral laws destined to ensure the commitment of political parties, as well as movements and groups to democratic institutionality, while at the same time encouraging electoral participation.
d. Secure the autonomy of political parties, movements and groups from the economic powers by means of norms that promote free and fair electoral contests, especially equal access to the communication media.
e. Encourage financial transparency of political parties and movements as a fundamental aspect of public ethics and the fight against corruption.
f. Promote inclusive political systems by encouraging, through the competent national instances, public financing of political parties, movements and groups, electoral campaigns, as well as limitations to electoral expenditure.
g. Promote internal democracy in political parties, movements and groups, especially when nominating and running leaders and candidates for popular election.
h. Promote equal opportunities for men and women and the elimination of all forms of discrimination, as well as develop youth's interest in politics. The later to be understood as a free [and most needed] choice of the individual to intervene in public matters.
i. Support political training programs and the preparation of leaders, particularly for women, youth, ethnic groups and marginalized populations, in terms of strengthening education for citizenship and democracy in all levels of social life and, especially, from school.
j. Highlight the importance of strengthening democracy by exercising freedom of information, promoting ethical journalism and social responsibility, while simultaneously reinforcing the right to information and the right to reply by all political parties, movements and groups.
c) Innovating Financial Mechanisms to Strengthen Democratic Governance
17. We ratify the need to establish innovative financial mechanisms designed to strengthen democratic governance and confront poverty by raising new resources for productive investment and generation of productive employment in order to provide answers to our populations' legitimate social demands.
18. We consider that such mechanisms should be oriented to increase resources, enhance the use of available resources, consider different financial policies in order to improve the level of life of the population, through measures, such as the creation of a regional trust fund to encourage private investment projects for the development of public infrastructure works, the creation of regional investment authorities that provide financing for infrastructure that generate social impact and the establishment of international humanitarian fund, among others.
19. We deem indispensable that the various proposals presented by the countries members and international organizations regarding innovative financial mechanisms be analyzed and processed at the appropriate technical levels as soon as possible.
i) To invite the Latin American Parliament and subregional parliaments to develop and establish permanent cooperation bodies involving political parties and organizations of the countries members of the Rio Group, in collaboration with organizations committed to the development of democratic institutionality and the strengthening of political parties.
ii) To suggest to the above-mentioned parliamentary forums take time to review the Notice of Meeting of political parties, movements or groups representatives and civil society organizations representatives existing in the countries of the Rio Group, so that they identify formulas to encourage its strengthening and contribute to the democratic institutionality of our region.
iii) To request the Latin American Parliament to update the coming Rio Group Summit regarding the results of these efforts.
iv) To instruct the Ministers of Finance to summon a group of high-level government experts to analyze, with the assistance of the pertinent international and regional organizations, existing proposals and new proposals that country members may formulate so that they may determine, within a period of 3 months, the viability of each proposal, actions to be taken and notify the Ministers of Finance so that they may decide on whether or not to negotiate said proposals within the appropriate international setting.