The proposal for a pilot project on monitoring the state of democracy in the Andean region is the result of a series of meetings at UBC, the Carter Center, and the Comisión Andina de Juristas (CAJ), as well as a Fast Talk session with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade (DFAIT), Canada. After the Quebec City Summit, foreign ministers negotiated and signed the Organization of American States‘ (OAS) Inter-American Democratic Charter. A meeting held at the Liu Institute at UBC in November 2002 made two recommendations concerning the Charter: (1) the formation of “Friends of the Charter” and (2) the creation of an international research network to monitor and report on democracy in the region. The Carter Center held two subsequent meetings to launch the Friends of the Charter, during which ideas were discussed for how to proceed on the research network as well (Mejia Acosta, Policzer, Cameron 2004). García-Sayan and other members of the CAJ played an active role in meetings at both the Carter Center and UBC, and subsequently established the Red Andina Democratica.
To further pursue the idea of an international research network, UBC, the Carter Center, and others experts participated in a “Fast Talk” consultation with the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade Canada (DFAIT). A draft report provided encouragement for the idea of democracy reporting outside the OAS, conducted by independent experts and civil society organizations, based as much as possible within the Latin American region. Further discussions confirmed the interest of International IDEA, the CAJ, and Participa, in moving forward with a pilot project on the Andes. There is a strong consensus on the need for this network, which will complement similar initiatives (e.g. Friends of the Charter, efforts to monitor democracy in the OAS).
Partners and stakeholders enthusiastically welcomed the initiative. Diego García-Sayan was engaged in the Andean pilot project initiative because it dovetails with the work of the CAJ in developing a democracy network in the region. Daniel Zovatto at International IDEA offered the support of International IDEA for the project, and his organization provided logistical support and in-kind contributions for the first meeting. Rafael Roncagliolo, of the Peruvian office of IDEA, was similarly supportive. Jennifer McCoy, one of the intellectual authors of the idea of an international research network, was involved in the initial DFAIT fast-talk discussion on behalf of the Carter Center, and participated actively in the first meeting and follow-up activities. Andrea Sanhueza of Participa participated in the December meeting. The project runs under the auspices of the UBC Centre for the Study of Democratic Institutions which has encouraged the formation of an integrated and solid research network to enable the various participants to do more together.