Declaration on the Defence of Democracy adopted on 24 August 1997 by the Eleventh Summit of Heads of State and Government of the Rio Group

1. We, the heads of State and Government of the Rio Group, have conducted an intensive exchange of views on the need to preserve and strengthen representative democracy, the value of which is shared by all its members, and the effective exercise of which constitutes an obligation for its member States.

2. We are convinced that representative democracy is the foundation of the legitimacy of political systems and an essential condition for the peace, stability and development of the region, and for the hemispheric integration process in which our countries are involved.

3. We agree that the elimination of extreme poverty, the achievement of social justice and the promotion of forms of civic participation, as well as the improvement of the living conditions and general well-being of our peoples, are permanent objectives of our countries which may be more easily achieved through cooperation and coordination among democratic Governments.

4. We reiterate that the promotion and observance of ethical values and respect for human rights are the foundation and raison d'être of the legitimacy of political systems, and that only democracy can effectively guarantee that they remain valid.

5. We reaffirm that any attack on the democracy of a country of the region constitutes an assault against the principles which underlie the solidarity of the States of the Americas .

6. Therefore, in the quest for the preservation of representative democracy and the full validity of institutions, we agree that, should circumstances arise in any of the member countries of the Rio Group which disrupt the rule of law or entail a breach of the constitutional order, the secretariat pro tempore will convene a meeting of the Ministers for Foreign Affairs to consider the situation.