The Inter-American Democratic Charter commits the OAS to respond to "an unconstitutional alteration of the constitutional regime that seriously impairs the democratic order in a member state." The Declaration of Florida envisions the possibility of an OAS mechanism to "address[] situations that might affect the workings of the political process of democratic institutions or the legitimate exercise of power." Other organizations have similar commitments. MERCOSUR, a free trade association among several South American nations, agreed in 1996 to respond to any "interruption in the democratic order" of its members or associates. The Organization of African Unity formally bound itself in 2000 to protect democracy against "unconstitutional changes of government." The Economic Community of West African States (ECOW AS) agreed in 2001 to respond to situations where "democracy is abruptly brought to an end by any means" in member states. Emphasis on constitutional fidelity does less to resolve the paradox than one might hope, for the practice of responding to coups or other interruptions in democratic government requires surprisingly intrusive and contestable interpretations of other countries' constitutions. A recent example from the West African Republic of Togo vividly illustrates this problem-and suggests that it may be common to any regional effort to protect constitutional democracy





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