***Deepening understanding of democratic institutions, values and practices, and developing effective political leadership***

The Bahamas is included among five Caribbean countries within which the Organisation of American States is launching a sub-regional course for young democratic leaders. Other participating countries include Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Dominica, and Saint Kitts and Nevis. The course is an initiative of the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy (OAS/UPD), and is supported by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB).

A release from the OAS said this is the first time the hemispheric organisation will offer this type of course in the English-speaking Caribbean. In the last four years, the UPD has been involved in training hundreds of young political leaders in other countries and sub-regions of the hemisphere.

*”The Caribbean region has a strong democratic tradition and I am certain we will have a dynamic group of young people interested in participating,”* according to Elizabeth Spehar, UPD Executive Coordinator. The Training Program for Democratic Leaders (known by its Spanish acronym, CALIDEM) will be the first of several courses to be carried out in the Caribbean during the next few years. The OAS/UPD hopes to conduct this first course in the fourth quarter of 2002.

CALIDEM brings together a diverse group of civic and political leaders, under 30 years of age, representing a broad spectrum of party affiliations. The program aims to deepen participants’ understanding of democratic institutions, values and practices, and develop effective political leadership.

The OAS/UPD has designed the course framework, contents and methodologies, but the training course will be implemented by outside training institutions based on a competitive bidding process. The OAS has called for bids from governmental and private institutions with experience in implementing training courses. Proposals must be submitted to the OAS/UPD by July 31.

Details of the application process for participation in the program will be announced later.

Recently, OAS Assistant Secretary General Luigi Einaudi delivered the keynote address at the presidential luncheon of the 27th annual conference of the Caribbean Studies Association, in Nassau, Bahamas. The Ambassador joined some 300 hundred international figures and scholars as well as local officials, and his address covered regional and hemispheric issues related to the conference theme, *”Coping with Challenge, Contending with Change.”*

The Puerto Rico-based Caribbean Studies Association is a leading group of scholars who teach, research and publish on Caribbean issues.