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Preventive Diplomacy Work in the Organization of American States (OAS): The 2006 Elections in Guyana

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Abstract The South American country of Guyana has a history of turmoil and violence around its presidential elections. The 2006 elections, however, were cited as largely free of violence and post-election unrest. While the peaceful outcome may be attributed to a number of factors, the involvement of the Organization of American States in setting up an electoral observation mission and in engaging in preventive diplomacy played a constructive role in the process, in addition to other ongoing initiatives. This article examines the OAS’ use of its mandate for the preservation of democracy as an entry point for conflict prevention. In particular, it analyzes the role of election monitoring and the facilitation of dialogue as a form of preventive diplomacy. The article argues that the Guyana case provides an example of the OAS using its democracy promotion mandate to prevent conflict, specifically election-related violence. It also highlights some of the critiques of OAS work in the area of democracy promotion and election monitoring, noting that the organization has engaged in these activities only in selective cases that meet specific criteria.

Affiliations: 1: UNOG-OHCHR Ave G. Motta 48, 1202 Geneva Switzerland


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