Creation of UN Democracy Caucus Urged

New York

The democratic member states of the United Nations should use the just convened session of the UN Commission on Human Rights to create a permanent democracy caucus at the world body, a group of eminent persons from 28 countries urged in a statement released today.

The Commission on Human Rights today began its 60th annual session in Geneva.

In a written appeal to the foreign ministers of the Community of Democracies (COD), the group, composed of legislators and civil society representatives, urged that democracies unite to establish a democracy caucus at the United Nations.

The statement was circulated by a coalition of nongovernmental organizations, including Freedom House, the Democracy Coalition Project and the Transnational Radical Party.

The appeal letter is available here.

The Community of Democracies, created in June 2000, unites over 100 democratically elected governments. It seeks to enhance cooperation among democratic states, to deepen respect for human rights and democracy, and to support fragile emerging democracies. In September 2003, foreign ministers from the Community of Democracies pledged to work to establish caucuses at regional and international bodies.

"As yet, the group has not established a permanent working presence at the UN," said Adrian Karatnycky, Freedom House Counselor and a coordinator of the NGO effort to build a democracy caucus at the UN. "As a first step, we urge that a Democracy Caucus should be established in Geneva during the current 60th session of the UN Commission on Human Rights, which convened today for six weeks of deliberations."

Of the 53 member states of the current UN Commission on Human Rights, 32 are members of the Community of Democracies. This means that countries with shared democratic practices represent a clear majority of states on the Commission.

The appeal calls on the COD to now follow through on its pledges. It was presented by the Campaign for UN Reform, the Council for a Community of Democracies, the Open Society Institute's Democracy Coalition Project, Freedom House, Human Rights Watch, the International League for Human Rights, and the Transnational Radical Party.

The caucus 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."

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.

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