Skip to main content Accessibility help

A Desultory Defense of Democracy: OAS Resolution 1080 and the Inter-American Democratic Charter

  • Barry S. Levitt (a1)


This article evaluates the effectiveness of OAS mechanisms for safeguarding democracy through multilateral diplomacy, what some scholars have dubbed the interamerican defense of democracy regime. Drawing on a range of international relations theories, this study derives competing hypotheses about member states' responses to democratic crises in the Americas. It then analyzes all instances in which a collective response—that is, an application of Resolution 1080 or the Inter-American Democratic Charter—was debated in the OAS between 1991 and 2002. Patterns of state behavior suggest that domestic politics, rather than the structural or systemic traits of the interamerican system, best explain foreign policy responses to crises of democracy in the region. The OAS record in confronting such crises is uneven.



Hide All
Abente-Brun, Diego. 1999. People Power in Paraguay. Journal of Democracy 10, 3: 1100.
Acevedo, Domingo. 1993. The Haitian Crisis and the OAS Response: A Test of Effectiveness in Protecting Democracy. In Enforcing Restraint: Collective Intervention in Internal Conflicts, ed. Lori, Fisler Damrosch New York: Council on Foreign Relations Press. 156.
Acevedo, Domingo, and Claudio, Grossman. 1996. The Organization of American States and the Protection of Democracy. In Beyond Sovereignty: Collectively Defending Democracy in the Americas, ed. Tom, Farer. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press. 149.
Aharonian, Aram. 2002. Venezuela: un golpe con olor a hamburguesa, jamón y petróleo. América Latina en Movimiento Latin American Information Agency, April 28. Archived at Accessed July 7, 2003.
Amoore, Topaz. 2002. Loyal Troops Rally to Ousted Venezuela Leader. Sunday Telegraph (London), April 14. Archived at Accessed July 8, 2003.
Bloomfield, Richard J. 1994. Making the Western Hemisphere Safe for Democracy?the Oas Defense-of-Democracy Regime. Washington Quarterly 17, 2: 169.
Bonilla, Laura. 2002. Oas to Invoke Democratic Charter against Venezuela. Agence France Presse, April 14. Archived at Accessed February 1, 2003.
British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC). 2002. Latin America Ambivalent over Military Coup. April 13.
Cable News Network (CNN). 2002. Pentagon to Review Role in Venezuela. http:www.cnn.com2002US0423pentagon.venezuelaindex.html April 23.
Cameron, Maxwell. 2001. Re: Draft Inter-American Democratic Charter. Unpublished memorandum to civil society consultancy groups. May 23.
Cameron, Maxwell. 2003. Strengthening Checks and Balances: Democracy Defence and Promotion in the Americas. Canadian Foreign Policy 10, 3 (Spring): 116.
Cooper, Andrew F., and Thomas, Legler. 2001a. The Oas Democratic Solidarity Paradigm: Questions of Collective and National Leadership. Latin American Politics and Society 43, 1 (Spring): 126.
Cooper, Andrew F., and Thomas, Legler. 2001b. The Oas in Peru: a Model for the Future Journal of Democracy 12, 4 (October): 136.
DeYoung, Karen. 2002. U.S. Seen as Weak Patron of Latin Democracy. Washington Post , April 16: A15.
Diéguez, Margarita. 1998. Regional Mechanisms for the Maintenance of Peace and Security in the Western Hemisphere. In Regional Mechanisms and International Security in Latin America, ed. Olga, Pellicer. Tokyo: United Nations University Press. 1111.
Diehl, Paul F. 1991. Geography and War: a Review and Reassessment of the Empirical Literature. International Interactions 17, 1: 127.
EFE News Service. 2002. Us, Oas Overtaken by Events in Venezuela. Global News Wire , April 14.
Ellner, Steve, and Fred, Rosen. 2002. Crisis in Venezuela: the Remarkable Fall and Rise of Hugo Chávez: Coup, Chaos, or Misunderstanding NACLA Report on the Americas 36, 1 (July-August): 115.
Hasenclever, Andreas, and Volker, Rittenberger. 1996. Interests, Power, Knowledge: the Study of International Regimes. Mershon International Studies Review 40, 2 (October): 1228.
Hautamäki, Veli-Pekka. 2002. Authoritative Interpretation of the Constitution: a Comparison of Argumentation in Finland and Norway. Electronic Journal of Comparative Law 6, 3 (October). http:www.ejcl.org63art63-1.html.
Inter-American Dialogue (IAD). 1994. The Americas in 1994: A Time for Leadership. A Report of the Inter-American Dialogue to the Summit of Presidents and Prime Ministers of the Americas. Washington, DC: Inter-American Dialogue.
Kamen, Al. 2002. In the Loop. Column. Washington Post , April 19: A23.
Keohane, Robert O. 1984. After Hegemony: Cooperation and Discord in the World Economy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Keohane, Robert O. 1988. International Institutions: Two Approaches. International Studies Quarterly 32, 4 (December): 196.
Kindleberger, Charles P. 1981. Dominance and Leadership in the International Economy: Exploitation, Public Goods, and Free Riders. International Studies Quarterly 25, 2 (June): 154.
Krasner, Stephen ed. 1983. International Regimes. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Legler, Thomas. 2003a. The Inter-American Democratic Charter: from Peru to Venezuela and beyond. Paper presented at the 2003 Annual Conference of the International Studies Association, Portland, Oregon, February 25-March 1.
Legler, Thomas. 2003b. Personal communication. July 8.
Legler, Thomas. 2003c. Peru Then and Now: the Inter-American Democratic Charter and Peruvian Democratization. Canadian Foreign Policy 10, 3 (Spring): 173.
Levine, Daniel, and Brian, Crisp. 1999. Venezuela: the Character, Crisis, and Possible Future of Democracy. World Affairs 161, 3 (Winter): 165.
Levitt, Barry. 2001. The Oas and Latin American Elections: Whither Resolution 1080?Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Political Science Association, San Francisco, August.
Levitt, Barry. 2002. Constitutionalism, Political Parties, and Presidential Power in Peru, 1985–2000: towards a Comparative Model of Legislative-Executive Relations in Presidential Systems. Ph.D. diss., University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
Lucero, José Antonio. 2001. Crisis and Contention in Ecuador. Journal of Democracy 12, 2: 173.
McClintock, Cynthia. 2001. The Oas in Peru: Room for Improvement. Journal of Democracy 12, 4 (October): 140.
McCoy, Jennifer. 2001. Comments on the Inter-American Democratic Charter. Summits of the Americas Bulletin 1, 1 (November): 14.
Organization of American States (OAS). 1948. Charter of the Organization of American States. Archived at http:www.oas.orgjuridicoEnglishcharter.html.
Organization of American States (OAS). 1991. Ser. P Ag/Res. 1080 (Xxi-O/91). June 5.
Organization of American States (OAS). 1992a. Ser. G Cp/Res. 576 (887/92). February 4.
Organization of American States (OAS). 1992b. Ser. G Mre/Res 1/92 April 13.
Organization of American States (OAS). 1996. Ser. G Cp/Res. 681 (1071/96). April 23.
Organization of American States (OAS). 1999a. Ser. G Cp/Acta 1185/99. March 24.
Organization of American States (OAS). 1999b. Ser. G Cp/Acta 1186/99. March 31.
Organization of American States (OAS). 2000a. Ser. G Cp/Res. 763 (1220/00). January 21.
Organization of American States (OAS). 2000b. Ser. G Cp/Acta 1241/00. May 31.
Organization of American States (OAS). 2001. Inter-American Democratic Charter. September 11. Archived at
Organization of American States (OAS). 2002a. Ser. P Ag/Acta 1 (Xxix-E/02). April 18.
Organization of American States (OAS). 2002b. Ser. P Ag/Res. 1 (Xxix-E/02). April 18.
Organization of American States (OAS). 2002c. Ser. G Cp/Res. 811. April 13.
Oppenheimer, Andres. 2000. Slow-Motion Coup May Hit Peru. Miami Herald , March 5: 8A.
Palmer, David Scott. 1996. “Fujipopulism” and Peru's Progress. Current History 95, 598 (February): 1–75.
Pan, Eric J. 1997. Authoritative Interpretation of Agreements: Developing More Responsive International Administrative Regimes. Harvard International Law Journal 38: 503–35.
Parish, Randall, and Mark, Peceny. 2002. Kantian Liberalism and the Collective Defense of Democracy in Latin America. Journal of Peace Research 39, 2: 150.
Pevehouse, Jon. 2002. Democracy from the outside in?International Organizations and Democratization. International Organization 56, 3 (Summer): 149.
Putnam, Robert. 1988. Diplomacy and Domestic Politics: the Logic of Two-Level Games. International Organization 42, 3 (Summer): 160.
Rohter, Larry. 2002. Venezuela's 2 Fateful Days. New York times , April 20: A1.
Rosenberg, Robin L. 2001. The Oas and the Summit of the Americas: Coexistence, or Integration of Forces for Multilateralism Latin American Politics and Society 43, 1: 1101.
San Martin, Nancy, and Tim, Johnson. 2002. Venezuelan Chaos Makes Region Uneasy. Miami Herald , April 14: 6A.
Sánchez, Fabiola. 2002. Ambassador Met Temporary President but Denies U.S. Aided Coup in Venezuela. Associated Press Worldstream, April 17. Archived at http:www.apdigitalnews.comaparchive.html.
Schnably, Stephen. 2000. Constitutionalism and Democratic Government in the Inter-American System. In Democratic Governance and International Law, ed. Gregory, Fox. and Brad, Roth. New York: Cambridge University Press. 198.
Starr, Harvey, and Benjamin, Most. 1978. A Return Journey: Richardson, “Frontiers,” and War in the 1946–1965 Era. Journal of Conflict Resolution 22: 323–56.
Steves, Franklin. 2001. Regional Integration and Democratic Consolidation in the Southern Cone of Latin America. Democratization 8, 3 (Autumn): 1100.
Strange, Susan. 1982. Cave Hic Dragones : a Critique of Regime Analysis. International Organization 36, 2 (Spring): 196.
Tamayo, Juan. 2002. Venezuela's Rebellion a Bizarre Mix of Events. Miami Herald , April 16: 1A.
Vaky, Viron, and Heraldo, Muñoz 1993. The Future of the Organization of American States. New York: Twentieth Century Fund Press.
Valenzuela, Arturo. 1997. Paraguay: the Coup That Didn't Happen. Journal of Democracy 8, 1: 155.
Vásquez, John. 1993. The War Puzzle. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Villagrán, Francisco 1993. Thwarting the Guatemalan Coup. Journal of Democracy 4, 4: 124.
Walt, Stephen. 1987. The Origins of Alliances. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Waltz, Kenneth. 1979. Theory of International Politics. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Wise, Carol. 1997. State Policy and Social Conflict in Peru. In The Peruvian Labyrinth: Polity, Society, Economy, ed. Maxwell, Cameron. and Philip, Mauceri. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press. 1106.
Young, Oran. 1991. Political Leadership and Regime Formation: on the Development of Institutions in International Society. International Organization 45, 3 (Summer): 1308.
Young, Oran. 1999. Governance in World Affairs. Ithaca: Cornell University Press.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

A Desultory Defense of Democracy: OAS Resolution 1080 and the Inter-American Democratic Charter

  • Barry S. Levitt (a1)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.