DECEMBER 3, 2013


Dr the Honorable Prime Minister Baldwin Spencer,

Chairman of the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission Juno Samuel,

Distinguished members of the Commission,

Members of the Diplomatic Corps,

OAS Colleagues Paul Spencer, Alejandro Urizar and Julieta Maroni,

Chairmen of the Political Parties Chaku Symister and Chet Greene,

Representatives of the Private Sector, Civil Society organizations, the media and academia,

Ladies and Gentlemen,


I am delighted to join this important forum on electoral campaign financing, as it is about to address a critical topic at an opportune time. I believe this exercise is likely to strengthen our confidence in our democratic governance system. In addition to shedding light in some not yet well lit corners of the political life, I cannot help but notice a powerful success even as we get started. It comes to the unity around the need to inject more equity and transparency to our electoral consultations. Today, it seems that the vital forces in Antigua and Barbuda support this conversation and efforts launched jointly by the OAS and the Antigua and Barbuda Electoral Commission to arrive at a gentlemen agreement on some basic standards that can apply to campaign financing.


Let me express my gratitude to the Honorable Prime Minister Dr. Baldwin Spencer for supporting this event. Also I would like to congratulate and thank ABEC Chairman and members of the commission, in particular Commissioner Paula Lee, for their commitment to this crucial endeavor. Further, I wish to recognize the enthusiastic participation of the political parties, the private sector, civil society organizations, faith based groups, and the diplomatic corps. There is something special to this forum; the stakeholders are unanimous in recognizing the need and timeliness of a conversation on electoral campaign financing. They also acknowledge that there is room for significant reform.


As you know, the OAS has been unrelenting in promoting and strengthening democracy throughout our region. This mandate is enshrined in the charter of the organization as one of its main pillars, as well as in the Inter-American Democratic Charter, and has been object of reflections and decisions by the Heads of State and Government in the Summit of the Americas process and also the General Assembly. Further, the OAS has a solid track record in observing elections, thus amassing a wealth of experience and awareness of best practices over the years. The issue of campaign financing has emerged as one of the priorities put forward by a cross section of stakeholders in our region, which would make our democratic governance more vibrant and more credible.


In the Caribbean, the organization has spearheaded a number of initiatives in this regard, including a meeting in Jamaica in 2010 when model legislation was presented, and a regional forum in Barbados in May 2013 aimed at the establishment of sustainable mechanisms for campaign financing legislation. This colloquium in Antigua brings the debate to the national level where it is expected to result in practical outcome, applicable immediately and geared towards an effective and credible electoral process.


Back in May 2013, speaking of political financing regulation and its linkage with the consolidation of free and fair elections and the consolidation of democracy, OAS Secretary General Jose Miguel Insulza noted and I quote “This is not only our duty so that the peoples of the Americas may realize their aspiration for a fair, democratic system, and benefit from the certainty of liberty and equality, which are intrinsic to democracy and indispensable for greater freedom and justice” (unquote).


I believe that a well balanced campaign financing system will certainly inject more serenity into the electoral process, more focus on vision and development program and a genuine reflection of the will of the people. It will also prevent dirty money from corrupting the political system, thus facilitating the work of the Office of National Drug Control Policy. For democratic governance to be fully functional and produce wealth with equity and security, we need to maintain it, preserve it, and protect it thus enhancing its legitimacy.  We also need incentives and deterrents to the political parties and other relevant players, for them to develop a culture of adherence to the standards on your books and those graciously agreed to.


My colleagues Paul Spencer and Alejandro Urizar will go into details during their respective presentation. I know they will do a wonderful job setting the tone for our deliberations, given their high level of experience and skills gathered over the years.


In closing, I wish to thank you all one more time for making this event possible. Your contributions to the debate will be appreciated and taken into account going forward.


Thank you and God bless you.

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