Creation of Democracy Group Urged
Freedom House, together with a broad coalition of non-governmental organizations, former government officials, and eminent persons, has appealed for the establishment of a United Nations Democracy Group during the meeting of the UN General Assembly this autumn.
In a letter sent July 31 to the foreign ministers and United Nations ambassadors of Chile, the Czech Republic, India, Mali, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, the Republic of Korea, South Africa, and the United States, the coalition urged that the ten countries take the lead in establishing a permanent UN body to promote and consolidate the values of democracy and human rights within the UN system.
The ten states are members of the Convening Group of the Community of Democracies process, which includes the participation of over 100 democratic and democratizing nations.
A UN Democracy Group would be based on the Warsaw Declaration of the Community of Democracies, signed in June 2000, which calls for democracies to "collaborate on democracy-related issues in existing international and regional institutions." The Community of Democracies reiterated this pledge in Seoul, Korea in 2002 when it charged the Convening Group with "encouraging the formation of coalitions and caucuses to support democracy."
A UN Democracy Group would strengthen the governance and accountability of the United Nations on issues of democracy and human rights, while promoting a democratic consciousness in decision-making on candidacies for key UN bodies, such as the Commission on Human Rights.
The text of the letter follows.
July 31, 2003
We write to urge your government and other states of the Convening Group of the Community of Democracies to work toward the establishment of a United Nations Democracy Group in the autumn of 2003.
The Warsaw Declaration of the Community of Democracies, signed in June 2000 by over 100 states, calls for democracies to "collaborate on democracy-related issues in existing international and regional institutions, forming coalitions and caucuses to support resolutions and other international activities aimed at the promotion of democratic governance." Moreover, governments at the 2002 Community of democracies meeting in Seoul, Korea charged the Convening Group with "encouraging the formation of coalitions and caucuses to support democracy."
In 2000, a first effort was made at the UN to convene a gathering of states participating in the Community of Democracies (CD) process. The foreign ministers of the Convening Group of the CD met during the General Assembly session in September 2000. In October 2000, some sixty states sent representatives to a broader meeting to discuss a democracy group. Since that meeting in 2000, the democracies at the UN have not reconvened as a group. Moreover, a permanent working caucus of the world's democracies at the UN has yet to be established.
We urge that a Democracy Group at the UN be constituted on the basis of the existing membership and Convening Group of the Community of Democracies process. We further recommend that participation in the Democracy Group consist only of countries that are full participants in the Community of Democracies process.
Our main recommendation is that a discussion on the establishment of a permanent UN Democracy Group be launched at a meeting of the foreign ministers and permanent representatives of the Community of Democracies Convening Group. We urge that such a meeting occur during the upcoming September 2003 session of the UN General Assembly under the leadership of the government of Chile, current chair of the Convening Group.
We are delighted that the Community of Democracies process plays an important role in strengthening democratic multilateral cooperation and we urge that this same principle find expression at the level of the United Nations.
Madeline Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State
Genaro Arriagada, former Minister, Secretary General of the Presidency of Chile
Emma Bonino, Member of the European Parliament, Italy
John Brademas, President Emeritus, New York University
Cecilia Cortes, Executive Director, Fundaci?n del Servicio Exterior para la Paz y la Democracia (FUNPADEM), Costa Rica
Hon. David Dreier, Chairman of the Committee on Rules, U.S. House of Representatives
Bronislaw Geremek, former Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Poland
Morton Halperin, Director, Washington Office, Open Society Institute
Hon. Lee Hamilton, Director, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
Amb. Max Kampelman, former Counselor of the U.S. Department of State
Louise Kantrow, Executive Director, International League for Human Rights
Amb. Jeane J. Kirkpatrick, former U.S. Representative to the United Nations
Don Kraus, Executive Director, Campaign for U.N. Reform
Amb. Alfred H. Moses, Chairman, United Nations Watch
Hryhoriy Nemyria, Chairman, International Renaissance Foundation, Ukraine
Sonia Picado, former Justice of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights
Theodore Piccone, Director, Democracy Coalition Project
Kenneth Roth, Executive Director, Human Rights Watch
Richard C. Rowson, President, Council for a Community of Democracies
George Soros, Chairman, Open Society Institute
Sergio Stanzani, President, Transnational Radical Party, Italy
Jusuf Wanandi, Chairman, Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta, Indonesia
Jennifer Windsor, Executive Director, Freedom House
Professor Ahmed Ziauddin, Convenor, Asian Net
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.