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Abstract

The following three brief articles raise and address fundamental questions about the role of democracy at the regional and international levels. They examine the current status of democracy and the suggested "right to democracy" at international law, particularly in the Americas context. Developed from papers presented at a panel entitled "Democratic Norms and Regional Stability: Global Challenges and Responses in the Americas," these three pieces examine the current role of democracy in the region, including the role of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. The latter document, paralleled by provisions in the Charter of the Organization of American States and resolutions of the Summit of the Americas process, allows the Organization of American States (OAS) to decide whether a national political transition is democratic or non-democratic. Such heightened regional support for the protection of democracy is exciting. But the suitability of third party decisions regarding national political transitions remains controversial. As can be imagined, the idea of a regional organization passing judgment on the nature of a state's fundamental political processes-with the possibility of imposing sanctions-may be worrisome for more than dictators. As suggested by the articles that follow, the question of whether there exists an "unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order in a member state," is more difficult, and at times more problematic, than one might expect.

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