Democratic Governance and Human Rights Challenges:

Equality, Non-Discrimination, and the Environment

“Evidence suggests democracies outperform other forms of government in ensuring not only fundamental freedoms but also socioeconomic well-being, including higher GDP, better education enrollment, and environmental protection. However, to ensure equal access to these benefits for all citizens, countries must constructively engage civil society organizations, particularly grassroot groups at the forefront of the defense of human rights and the environment.” Joaquín Vallejo, Deputy Director for Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights

On April 10th, PADF’s Deputy Director for Democracy, Governance, and Human Rights, Joaquin Vallejo, participated in a panel discussion around collaboration and dialogue between members states of the Organization of American States (OAS) and civil society in championing democracy, governance, and human rights across the Americas. Co-hosted by the OAS and George Washington University Law School, the symposium served as a vibrant platform for sharing knowledge, experiences, and innovative approaches to fostering a more just, equitable, and sustainable hemisphere. 

The event was kicked off by U.S. Ambassador to the OAS, Hon. Francisco Mora, to whom we express our deep appreciation for his inspiring opening remarks, which brilliantly laid the groundwork for a day filled with enriching discourse. His leadership and unwavering dedication to the principles of the Inter-American Democratic Charter are a beacon for our collective endeavors in upholding democratic values. 

The panel was moderated by Ambassador Mora and Rosa Celorio, Burnett Family Associate Dean & Distinguished Lecturer for International and Comparative Legal Studies at George Washington University Law School, whom we thank for her welcoming remarks and for skillfully moderating the panel discussion. Her contributions significantly shaped the day’s dialogue, highlighting the intricate linkages between law, human rights, and environmental stewardship. 

Our panelists brought invaluable insights and depth to the discussions: 

  • Liliana A. Ávila’s expertise in the interplay between human rights and environmental protection offered compelling perspectives on the critical need to safeguard our planet for the well-being of all. 
  • Javier Palummo Lantes, with his extensive background in human rights and social development policies, underscored the importance of robust frameworks for protecting economic, social, cultural, and environmental rights. 
  • Joaquín Vallejo’s reflections on PADF’s initiatives underscored the vital role of transparency, accountability, and environmental stewardship in enhancing democracy and governance in Latin America and the Caribbean. 
  • Dinah Shelton’s profound knowledge and experience enriched the conversation, illustrating the global impact of international law, rule of law and human rights on fostering more inclusive and resilient communities worldwide. 


This symposium has been a testament to the collective power of dialogue and action in shaping a future where democracy is vibrant, rights are protected, and communities are thriving. PADF is invigorated by today’s discussions and remains dedicated to advancing our mission alongside all partners committed to a hemisphere of opportunity for all. 

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