WASHINGTON, USA – The Organization of American States (OAS) and Facebook signed a cooperation agreement to work on initiatives in several areas, including electoral integrity, human rights and economic development in the Americas.
The agreement was signed by the secretary-general of the OAS, Luis Almagro, and the vice president of global affairs and communications of Facebook, Nick Clegg, in an online ceremony following a working meeting between the two teams.
“We believe that this agreement is the beginning of fruitful partnership, using innovative means to advance democracy, security, development and human rights. In Facebook, we see a partner that shares our goals for the Americas, and with whom we can work productively for the good of the citizens of our region. We are beginning with cooperation in terms of electoral integrity, sustainable development and freedom of expression, but we hope to expand it to many areas,” said Almagro.
The agreement provides for the development and implementation of joint research projects, training programs, and dissemination of studies in areas of mutual interest. The joint initiative seeks to continue improving responses to issues such as disinformation, electoral integrity, freedom of expression or the protection of human rights defenders, in pursuit of having an increasingly plural online and offline debate.
During the meeting, the two sides discussed topics such as electoral transparency and the regional challenge to combat disinformation.
“At Facebook we are aware of the challenges facing the region and of the importance of the OAS task to strengthen democracy and human rights in the Americas. This alliance strengthens our work in the face of challenges such as disinformation, electoral integrity, freedom of expression, privacy and the protection of those who defend human rights,” said Clegg.
Facebook’s vice president of global affairs and communication added that the company has created teams and systems to protect the integrity of elections on its platforms at key moments for democracy. Since 2017, he said, Facebook has worked on more than 200 elections around the world, many of them in Latin America.
Both teams discussed potential development efforts in a region that is battling the devastating effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The OAS has extensive experience in promoting democracy, human rights, sustainable development, and multidimensional security, and especially in the three specific areas of cooperation resulting from this agreement. In electoral matters, the OAS has observed more than 280 electoral processes in the last 50 years and its work to reduce the digital divide helped more than 70,000 small and medium-sized companies in the region to have an online presence. And through the Inter-American human rights system, the OAS has brought justice to thousands of victims who could not obtain it in their countries and has granted urgent protection to vulnerable individuals and groups.
Facebook, for its part, is committed to supporting the vaccination campaigns of governments and health agencies in the Americas on all its platforms to promote the immunization of as many people as possible, Clegg said. The social network has also connected millions of people with reliable information to help protect themselves from the pandemic and equipped small businesses with tools to help them recover financially, he added.