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International NGO Forum Calls for World's Democracies to Unite
The World forum on Democracy (WFD), an international conference of non-governmental experts, leading thinkers and world leaders from 85 countries, today endorsed a far-reaching appeal for a global alliance of democratic states.
Included among WFD participants are former Argentinian President Raul Alfonsin, Nobel Laureate Jose Ramos-Horta, financier George Soros, former French Prime Minister Michel Rocard, Peruvian opposition leader Alejandro Toledo, and Malaysian democracy leader Wan Azizah binti Wan Ismail.
In a written appeal read to a Warsaw meeting of foreign ministers and high ranking government officials from over 100 democratic countries and countries in transition to democracy, WFD delegates appealed "to the ministerial meeting to endorse and establish a caucus of democracies at the United Nations."
The document called on the ministerial "Community of Democracies" meeting to "establish rigorous standards for membership based on the criteria of free elections, freedom of expression, and freedom of association."
Freedom House Chairman Bette Bao Lord, one of the organizers of the meeting, presented the document to the foreign ministers at a Tuesday plenary session. Mrs. Lord addressed the gathering with Aleksander Smolar, president of the Warsaw-based Stefan Batory foundation, and Jose Ramos-Horta.
The World Forum on Democracy welcomed "the spirit of dialogue between democratic governments and authoritative voices outside government that was manifest in Warsaw," the statement read. Freedom House President Adrian Karatyncky said, "After the breakdown of dialogue between civil society and governments at the recent World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle, the dialogue between governments and civil society on display in Warsaw was a refreshing step forward along the path toward building a more democratic world."
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.