The Americas Program works to enhance the quality of democracy and make it more accountable to citizens in the region. Projects aim to strengthen regional capacities to promote democracy, transform and prevent conflicts, and improve democratic governance.
Promoting Democracy and Preventing Democratic Crises
The Carter Center promotes the collective defense of democracy in the Western Hemisphere by regional institutions, governments, civic organizations, and media to help prevent democratic crises. To advance this goal, the Center founded and serves as the secretariat of the Friends of the Inter-American Democratic Charter, a group of former presidents, prime ministers, cabinet ministers, and human rights officers. Through quiet diplomacy and fact-finding missions, the Friends listen to disputing parties in country conflicts; encourage peaceful and constitutional means to resolve democratic conflict; focus international attention at critical political moments, including elections; and contribute to more informed and better designed diplomatic actions.
Increasing Mutual Understanding and Cooperation
The Center sponsors dialogue and conciliation efforts, often with international partners, to increase cooperation and help resolve national and bilateral disputes. For example, a citizen dialogue forum between the five Andean countries and the United States met over several sessions to form personal relationships, learn about mutual interests, and generate proposals to reinforce official diplomacy.
Within nations, the program has helped countries facing significant citizen demand for political change by sponsoring open dialogue and mediation, organizing consensus-building exercises, and consulting with local groups. For example, after an attempted coup in Venezuela, the Center worked to advance discussions between the government and opposing factions.
Strengthening Regional Media
Professional journalism should serve as a watchdog to help hold governments accountable and educate citizens, rather than serve as a political mouthpiece or inflame conflict. The Center works with the media in key countries to reduce media polarization and improve professional standards and practices.
Results and Impact
- Missions by the Friends of the Inter-American Democratic Charter to Nicaragua, Paraguay, Ecuador, Venezuela, Belize, El Salvador, and Honduras assessed democratic tensions, advised on issues in dispute, and reported on contentious electoral contexts.
- Historic trips by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter to Cuba in 2002 and 2011 encouraged the mending of U.S.-Cuba relations and greater respect for human rights and civil liberties on the island.
- Helped restore diplomatic relations between Colombia and Ecuador.
- Organized dialogue forums that increased cooperation among Andean nations.
- Sponsored workshops that equipped thousands of Bolivian citizens and officials with conflict prevention skills to advance productive dialogue.
- Trained media in Bolivia and Venezuela in ethical, balanced, and accurate reporting techniques.