Global Roundtable Interview with the Director of the Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation at the OAS, Gerardo de IcazaSeptember 4, 2018
The Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD) was pleased to welcome Director of the Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation (DECO) at the Organization of American States (OAS), Gerardo de Icaza, for the September edition of the Global Roundtables series. On September 4 Semiramis de Miranda, GFDD Projects and ICT Director, and diplomat and GFDD contributor Angie Martinez received de Icaza at the GFDD offices in Washington, DC.
In an interview with Martinez, de Icaza spoke about the role of the OAS in promoting and ensuring democratic norms and systems in the Western Hemisphere.
At the start of the conversation, de Icaza and Martinez chatted about the structure of the OAS’ Secretariat for Strengthening Democracy (SSD), the OAS mechanism that deals with democracy issues. The DECO Director explained that three branches make up the SSD: Electoral Cooperation and Observation, Effective Public Management and Sustainable Democracy and Special Missions. DECO is the arm that holds electoral observations in countries throughout the region.
Martinez specifically asked the Director about the recent OAS Electoral Mission in Mexico, which took place in July 2018 and was headed by GFDD President and former President of the Dominican Republic, Leonel Fernández.
De Icaza stated that the leadership of President Fernández in the Mexican electoral observation, provided the OAS with great guidance and authority. “To have the presence of President Fernández, not only in Mexico but in Bolivia and Ecuador as well, as head of those missions provided great respect to carry out the observations. He has great understanding of the aspects that make up a true democracy and it has been very useful to have him in our missions,” said the Director of DECO.
De Icaza also explained the goals of DECO in the electoral observations that it facilitates, which include: ensuring that underrepresented populations, like women and indigenous communities, are able to vote; guaranteeing that electoral processes are fair and accurate and finally, making certain that elections are clean of abuse, bribes and other forms of fraudulent activity.
The two chatted about the long history of the OAS’ electoral observation missions, the first of which took place in the Dominican Republic and Costa Rica over 40 years ago. The Director of DECO noted that the OAS missions have been quite effective in ensuring and promoting democratic processes throughout the region and that the greatest milestones have been recent electoral missions in the United States and Brazil.
About the Director of the Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation at the OAS, Gerardo de Icaza
Gerardo de Icaza has been Director of the Department of Electoral Cooperation and Observation since March 1, 2014. In his years as Director, he has led more than 50 Electoral Observation Missions in more than 20 countries. In 2018, he served as Acting Secretary for Strengthening of Democracy from February to July. Previously, at the National Electoral Institute of Mexico (INE) he served as Deputy Legal Director for Overseas Voting and as Coordinator of the Technical Committee of Specialists on Overseas Voting. He was a law clerk, and then Head of the International Affairs Unit in the Electoral Tribunal of Mexico. He studied Law and has a Master’s Degree in International Relations and Communication. He has been a visiting professor at Princeton, Georgetown and Science Po Universities, and has published numerous academic articles on democracy and electoral systems in various languages.
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