Under What Circumstances May the OAS Apply the Democracy Clause to a Member State?
13 Pages Posted: 15 Aug 2014
Date Written: March 31, 2010
The three categories of events that should grant the activation of the democracy clause and, eventually, lead to the suspension of a member state from its participation in the various organs of the OAS are: (1) the forcible overthrow of a democratically constituted government; (2) the unconstitutional interruption of the democratic order; or (3) the unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order in a member state. Although both the Charter of the OAS and the Inter-American Democratic Charter fail to explicitly define the circumstances that qualify as a “forcible overthrow,” an “interruption of the democratic order,” or an “alteration that seriously impairs the democratic order,” academic studies by international law experts and scholars in the field of the inter-American system for the protection of democracy provide insight into specific events that fit within the scopes of these phrases. Drawing from these academic works, the events that can lead to the suspension of a government from the OAS can be divided into three subcategories within a continuous spectrum. On one end of this spectrum, we find the circumstances constituting those scenarios that can be classified as a “coup-d’état;” next, we find the circumstances resembling coups, called “coup-like situations;” and thirdly, at the other end of the spectrum, we find the circumstances constituting gradual, sustained, or systematic "erosion" of the essential elements of democracy.
Keywords: erosion of democracy, coup-d'état, coup, coup-like situations, forcible overthrow, democracy breakdown, interruption of the democratic order, alteration that seriously impairs the democratic order, Alberto Fujimori, Hugo Chávez, Roberto Micheletti, Evo Morales, Rafael Correa, Daniel Ortega
JEL Classification: K00, K33
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation