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The Andean-U.S. Dialogue Forum Background

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The Andean-U.S. Dialogue Forum was proposed to address a variety of complex and interrelated issues. Democratic stability and governance in the Andean countries harmed by a lack of cooperation to address shared threats. Illegal armed actors and organized crime did not respect national boundaries, environmental damage spilled over to neighboring countries, internal turmoil and conflict produced displaced people and refugees, and broken diplomatic relations and ideological divisions hampered trade. In addition, strained relations with the United States contributed to the disputes among Andean countries and impeded cooperation to achieve greater security and economic well-being for the Andean people. Similarly, progress on curtailing criminal activities, increasing energy supplies, and creating stable commercial and investment relationships was hindered by these conditions.

Comprised of groups of influential non-governmental actors from various sectors within each country, the forum sought to increase mutual understanding among societies and governments in the region; create collaborative initiatives around issues of mutual concern; and promote cooperation and exchange of information between individuals, organizations, and governments in the United States and the Andean nations. The initiative enjoyed the political backing of the Andean presidents as well as the support of the U.S. State Department.

The initiative was based on the Carter Center-United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) successful Colombia-Ecuador Bi-national Dialogue (2007-09), which played a key role in the reestablishment of diplomatic relations between the two countries. Although this project was originally designed to help create bridges between the Ecuadorian and Colombian societies, the personal relationships developed between group members created unofficial back-channels to advocate for the restoration of diplomatic relationships and to exert pressure on their governments after relations broke officially in March of 2008. This exercise helped develop the methodology for the U.S.-Andean Dialogue Forum.

The Carter Center partnered with International IDEA to implement this project. International IDEA has promoted high-level dialogues in the Andean region since 2002. At the national level, IDEA facilitated multi-party political reform processes that resulted in far-reaching legislation in Peru, Ecuador, and Colombia. In Bolivia, IDEA is supported analysis and consensus-building on the use of hydrocarbon resources for sustainable poverty reduction.  IDEA is widely recognized in the Andean countries as an impartial actor with strong convening capacity.

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