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U.S. Department of State

Department Seal Ambassador Luis J. Lauredo
Permanent Representative of the U.S. to the Organization of American States
Remarks to the Special Session of the OAS Permanent Council Concerning the OAS Electoral Obvservation Mission to Peru
Washington, DC, May 31, 2000

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The United States congratulates the OAS Electoral Observation Mission in Peru for the professionalism, courage, and clarity with which it has carried out its objectives. In careful accordance with OAS procedures, the Mission set out to verify that the election process fulfilled basic international standards and norms of legitimacy and transparency. It made a series of recommendations to enhance confidence in the process and ensure that the election would represent the authentic will of the people. Unfortunately, the Peruvian authorities decided to proceed with elections without addressing the well-documented concerns of the OAS Electoral Mission and other international missions, including from the European Union. As a result, the Mission found the conditions did not meet basic international standards of fairness and transparency and that it could not in good faith monitor the results.

In particular, we express our appreciation for the role played by ex-Foreign Minister Eduardo Stein. From the beginning, he confronted situations of extreme political tension. He maintained the credibility and independence of the Mission, patiently working to bring differing parties to terms for improving democratic processes. This experience has called world-wide attention to the critical role played by the OAS in promoting and upholding democratic standards.

Free, fair, and open elections are the foundation of a democratic society. The attacks on democracy today are more subtle than ever, and therefore, more dangerous. The thing that unites us is our common embrace of democratic values and our shared responsibility to defend them when they are threatened.

The issue we face now is, how will the OAS respond to the situation in Peru? Given the importance of the issue presented, the United States believes the matter should be addressed by the Foreign Ministers in Windsor during the upcoming session of the General Assembly. In Article 3 of the Charter, the American States proclaimed as a guiding principle of the OAS that "the solidarity of the American States and the high aims which are sought through it require the political organization of those States on the basis of the effective exercise of representative democracy." We believe that the proper context in which to analyze the issue under consideration is Resolution 1080, which was established in 1991 by the Foreign Ministers precisely for the purpose of discussing and addressing threats to democracy.

Resolution 1080 is the existing mechanism within the OAS framework for addressing an interruption of the democratic political institutional process. Resolution 1080 calls for the Permanent Council to "decide on and convene an ad hoc meeting of Ministers of Foreign Affairs or special session of General Assembly" to examine the events and adopt any decisions deemed appropriate. We believe the present situation involving the flawed electoral process in Peru warrants examination by the Foreign Ministers in Windsor in this context. Accordingly, the United States proposes the convening of an ad hoc meeting of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Windsor for the purpose of appropriate debate on this subject.

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