IFES HONORS OAS SECRETARY GENERAL INSULZA
WITH ITS ANNUAL DEMOCRACY AWARD
The Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Jose Miguel Insulza, received the Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award from the International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES), in recognition of his efforts, vision, dedication and leadership of the organization that brings together 34 nations of the Western Hemisphere to promote democracy, peace, justice and development in the region.
(Media-Newswire.com) - The Secretary General of the Organization of American States ( OAS ), José Miguel Insulza, received the Charles T. Manatt Democracy Award from the International Foundation for Election Systems ( IFES ), in recognition of his efforts, vision, dedication and leadership of the organization that brings together 34 nations of the Western Hemisphere to promote democracy, peace, justice and development in the region.
IFES President and Chief Executive Officer, Jean-Pierre Kingsley, explained that the award, named after the former U.S. Ambassador to the Dominican Republic, recognizes men and women who work tirelessly to build organizations and strengthen networks of professionals who share a common commitment to freedom and democracy. “This commitment is universal, overcoming geographic, religious and ethnic boundaries,” he explained.
In accepting the award last night at a ceremony that marked the 20th anniversary of IFES, Secretary General Insulza pointed out that within the last two years that he has been at the helm of the OAS, the Organization has observed over 30 electoral processes in the region. The number of requests for these missions has increased significantly, a clear sign that governments value the important support of the OAS, and that the transparency of electoral institutions has also improved.
However, Insulza noted that more work should be done to ensure good governance and tangible benefits for citizens. “To be called democratic, governments must not only be elected democratically, they must also govern democratically,” he emphasized.
“Democracy and democratic governments have to do with results. And that is why there have been several recent events of instability in our region, that are not caused by ideology, but by the incapacity or inability of governments to deal with their peoples’ basic needs in a continent that is not poor, but unfair,” the Secretary General said.
Along those lines, Insulza underscored that the rule of law and the separation of powers are essential features of democracy. “If there are no checks and balances in democratic rule, if there are no robust public institutions and if we have only governments of persons and not governments of laws, the possibility of individual strongmen taking over increases, especially when there is the good excuse that they are indispensable to confront the problems of poverty, crime, inequality or corruption that some of our countries face.”
Insulza shares the 2007 award with Lee H Hamilton, President of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars and a former U.S. representative. IFES President Kingsley said that both honorees embodied the true nature of public service. “Both men have dedicated themselves to the advancement of human dignity and freedom in their home countries and abroad,” he said.
IFES Board Chairman William J. Hybl presented the award to Secretary General Insulza, recounting his role in helping Chile reestablish democracy after the rule of Augusto Pinochet. Hybl noted that Secretary General Insulza uses his position at the OAS to advocate on behalf of impoverished Latin Americans. “While the world talks of Latin America moving left, albeit through democratic elections, Insulza answers back with hope and vision, calling for more government transparency and more tolerance.”
José Miguel Insulza was elected OAS Secretary General in 2005. A Chilean citizen, he helped lead the political movement toward democratic elections in his country in 1990, following Pinochet’s regime. He has a long history of public service, serving in several high level posts. When elected to his current position, Insulza had served as a government minister for more than a decade, the longest continuous tenure for a minister in Chilean history.
IFES is a nonprofit democracy development organization that provides governance and technical assistance to strengthen transitional democracies. Since its founding in 1987, the Washington-based organization has developed and implemented comprehensive, collaborative democracy solutions in more than 100 countries from around the world.
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