Community of Democracies
Community of Democracies
|-||President of the Community||El Salvador|
The Community of Democracies (abbreviated as CD) is an intergovernmental organization established in 2000. The Community works to strengthen democracy worldwide by providing support to emerging democracies and civil society. The CD has a governmental component made up of government representatives and a non-governmental component made up of civil society organizations. In 2004, CD governments also organized themselves into a Democracy Caucus in the United Nations (UN).
The current president of the Community of Democracies is El Salvador.
- 1 Purpose and structure
- 2 History
- 3 Non-governmental process
- 4 CD Reform
- 5 Governing Council
- 6 Action-Oriented Initiatives
- 7 UN Democracy Caucus
- 8 Future
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Purpose and structure
The Community of Democracies works to support democratic transition and consolidation worldwide and helps bridge the gap between principles of democracy and universal human rights and practice by:
- assisting societies in the development and strengthening of democratic institutions and values;
- identifying threats to democracy;
- supporting and defending civil society in all countries;
- advancing broad-based participation in democratic governance; and
- giving a voice to those working peacefully for democracy in all countries.
The Community of Democracies seeks to achieve these goals by: creating a global network of government representatives, legislators, civil society and other stakeholders committed to these goals, and using their combined resources and expertise to channel assistance to countries in transition and civil society. The CD also assists in coordinating democracy support activities and seeks to encourage a common democratic voice in international organizations.
Membership in the CD is reserved for governments that have shown a commitment to democratic governance as outlined in the Warsaw Declaration. The presidency of the CG rotates on a biennial basis. It is the responsibility of the presidential government to host the biennial ministerial conference and help guide other CD initiatives.
In 2007, it was announced that a Permanent Secretariat would be established in Warsaw.
The CD was reformed in 2011 at the Vilnius Ministerial. The reform package included the establishment of a Governing Council, made up of the members of the previous governing body, the Convening Group. The Governing Council currently consists of 24 members:
Members of CD Governing Council
- Cape Verde
- Costa Rica
- El Salvador
- Mali (suspended after the military coup)
- South Africa
- Republic of Korea
- United States
|This section's factual accuracy may be compromised due to out-of-date information. (January 2010)|
The CD was inaugurated at its first biennial ministerial conference hosted by the government of Poland in Warsaw on June 25–June 27, 2000. The initiative was spearheaded by Polish Foreign Minister Bronisław Geremek and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, along with six co-conveners: the governments of Chile, the Czech Republic, India, Mali, Portugal and the Republic of Korea.
At the close of the conference the participating governments signed onto the “Warsaw Declaration”, agreeing “to respect and uphold…core democratic principles and practices” including, among others, free and fair elections, freedom of speech and expression, equal access to education, rule of law, and freedom of peaceful assembly.
In closing remarks to the ministerial conference in Warsaw, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan praised the Community of Democracies as a positive development toward global democracy, saying. “When the United Nations can truly call itself a community of democracies, the Charter's noble ideals of protecting human rights and promoting "social progress in larger freedoms" will have been brought much closer."
Since the original conference in Warsaw, the chairmanship of the Community has been rotating. Ministerial Conferences were held towards the end of each presidency term in the capital of the presiding state, resulting in the adoption of a common declaration / plan of action towards the following activities of the Community: Seoul 2002 (South Korea), Santiago 2005 (Chile), Bamako 2007 (Mali), Lisbon 2009 (Portugal), Vilnius 2011 (Lithuania) and Ulaanbaatar 2013 (Mongolia). A special High Level Democracy Meeting was held as well in 2010 in Krakow, marking the tenth anniversary of the Community of Democracies. Following the 7th Ministerial Conference in Ulaanbaatar, El Salvador assumed the Presidency of the Community, under the theme of "Democracy and Development".
During the initial CD meeting in Warsaw, Madeleine Albright spoke at a parallel meeting of civil society actors called the “World Forum on Democracy,” organized by U.S. based Freedom House and the Stefan Batory Foundation of Poland. Addressing the audience of over 300 NGO representatives, democracy promoters, and civil society leaders from 80 nations, Albright affirmed the need for governments to work together with civil society in support of democracy. In subsequent ministerial conferences, the civil society component of the CD was strengthened and further developed and emerged from the preparations for the Santiago Ministerial Conference as the “non-governmental process of the Community of Democracies.”
The “non-governmental process” refers to the non-governmental members of the CD movement, including civil society organizations, foundations, academics, and experts devoted to promoting democracy. The non-governmental component of the CD serves mainly as a conduit for information and advice to the governments. An Executive Secretariat, composed of NGOs from the host country, coordinates the activities of the non-governmental process in preparation for the upcoming ministerial meeting. Leading up to the 2005 meeting in Santiago, the Chilean Executive Secretariat coordinated meetings of NGOs in six regions where civil society representatives met to discuss challenges and democracy deficits in their respective regions. The findings of the workshops were compiled and presented before government representatives at the Ministerial Conference in Santiago.
In addition to the Executive Secretariat, a “Global Issues Group” of non-state actors was formed to focus on proposals to strengthen the governmental process of the CD. The Global Issues Group, comprising various civil society organizations from around the world, among other proposals, sought to create objective criteria for CD membership based on the principles laid out in the Warsaw Declarations and reaffirmed by the convening group in Seoul. Based on these criteria, The Democracy Coalition Project and Freedom House presented a final report to the Convening Group governments, entitled “Country Assessments: Invitation Process for the Community of Democracies,” which examines 30 countries on their fitness to participate as full members in the Community of Democracies.
While governments are not bound to adopt the proposals of the non-governmental process, the framework of the Community of Democracies provides a forum for the exchange of ideas and experience between governments and civil society actors.
The Global Issues Group became what is today, the “International Steering Committee” (ISC) of the non-governmental process. The ISC is made up of 20 representatives of civil society organizations, from five regions of the world and a representative of the Executive Secretariat. The Council for a Community of Democracies in Washington, D.C., serves as the secretariat for the ISC.
In anticipation of the 10th anniversary of the Community of Democracies, the ministers gathered at the Fifth Ministerial Conference in Lisbon committed their Governments to: “Give a new impetus to the Community of Democracies, strengthen the core principles that presided over its creation, intensify its effectiveness and through action-oriented goals, reaffirm its fundamental role in promoting democratic governance globally”. To that end, the Lithuanian Presidency of the Community of Democracies (CD) established a Working Group on CD Governance Reform, co-chaired by Sweden, to consider proposals for strengthening the effectiveness and efficiency of the CD governance structure in a way that would also generate more commitment and support for the Community of Democracies. Proposals for expanding CD activities are made through a variety of Working Groups and are intended to support democratic actors through technical assistance and exchange of best practices. Governance reforms are intended to facilitate timely consideration and concrete implementation of such proposals.
Before the Governing Council was established, a Convening Group (CG) composed primarily of governments which initiated the Warsaw Conference governed the organization. All decisions were made by consensus. At the Vilnius Ministerial the CD formalized the Convening Group and established the Governing Council. The new Governing Council began with eighteen members and was expanded to include an additional 8 members at the first meeting in September, 2011. Former CG members were grandfathered into the new Governing Council, and all other states which had been invited as participants to the Vilnius Ministerial were invited to express their interest in joining the expanded Governing Council. There is no time limit on membership nor any ceiling on the size of the Council.
In order to be considered for membership on the Council, new member states must respect the principles set forth in the Warsaw Declaration and the Criteria for Participation and Procedures (September 27, 2002), as reported by objective non-governmental reports. In addition, new member states should meet the following criteria and will be evaluated according to consistent standards: 1. Support emerging and transitional democracies and respond to situations involving a serious disruption of democratic governance consistent with the UN Charter and the Warsaw Declaration; 2. Participate in the UN Democracy Caucus in New York and Geneva; 3. Designate a Senior Official of the Foreign Ministry or other relevant government office as the point of contact for the CD; and 4. Make tangible contributions to strengthening the CD through one or more of the following measures: a. Contributing to the budget of the CD (it is recommended but not compulsory that all Governing Council states make a financial contribution, be it large or small, to the CD budget); b. Seconding staff to the Permanent Secretariat; and/or c. Playing an active role in and supporting one or more CD Working Groups and/or CD affiliated bodies such as the Parliamentary Forum and the International Steering Committee of Civil Society.
The Governing Council shall seek consensus but if necessary be able to make decisions by a qualified majority (2/3) of all its members after appropriate debate.
The Governing Council will meet at ministerial level at each of the Ministerial meetings and annually on the margins of the UNGA The Council would also meet from time to time at the call of the Presidency in the capital of the Presidency, in Washington, in Geneva, in Warsaw (headquarters of CD Permanent Secretariat), or in other cities as appropriate.
The Community of Democracies wishes to affirm and express its commitment to democratic governance through several action-oriented initiatives:
The Working Groups were to serve as a means for disseminating information and knowledge on best practices, and to come up with practical initiatives to promote and support democracy at all levels – national,regional and international.
The Lithuanian Presidency of the CD (2009-2011), considering the Working Groups as one of the most effective ways to generate collective ideas on advancement of democracy, has launched the following Working Groups:
- Education for Democracy (co-chaired by Mongolia andPoland)
- Enabling and Protecting Civil Society (chaired by Canada)
- Gender Equality and Women’s Rights (co-chaired by Lithuaniaand the USA)
- Poverty, Development and Democracy (co-chaired by Chileand Italy)
- Promoting Democracy and Responding to National and Transnational Threats to Democracy (chaired by Hungary)
- Regional Cooperation (co-chaired by the Republic of Korea and Romania)
Outcomes of the Working Groups (examples)
- The WG on Enabling and protecting civil society is a silent diplomacy initiative aimed at preventing the adoption of restrictivelegislation while encouraging the development of enabling laws for civil society. The WG activated its Alert Mechanism (call for actions disseminated toits International Contact Group) on different occasions; in some cases concerned governments withdrew or amended restrictive draft laws on civil society.
- The WG on Gender Equality and Women’s Rights launched the “Women in Democracy” website.
Democracy Partnership Challenge
As part of its commitment to support successful transitions to democracy, the Community of Democracies launched the Democracy Partnership Challenge (DPC) – an initiative meant to encourage reform in countries emerging from authoritarian rule.
DPC Task Force members include government, civil society organizations and private sector members who work closely during a mandate of two years to help the country in transition to meet its objectives, as defined directly by the government and civil society of the recipient country. Coordinated by the chairing CD Member States, the DPC Task Forces have a series of functions:
- They operate as a clearing-house for proposals and projects made and implemented within the DPC initiative.
- They help to find donors and implementing agencies, especially for local non-governmental organizations.
- They observe and support the implementation of the projects as necessary.
- They report to the Community’s Presidency and Governing Council on progress within the recipient country.
Moldova and Tunisia are the first two countries to receive CD assistance through the Democracy Partnership Challenge. The Task Force on Moldova is co-chaired by Poland and the United States of America. The Task Force on Tunisia is co-chaired by the Netherlands and Slovakia.
The LEND Network (Leaders Engaged in New Democracies) brings together key leaders from the world’s newest democracies with former presidents, prime ministers, and others leaders engaged in past transitions to democracy. Harnessing the expertise of the Club de Madrid, the world’s largest forum of democratically elected former presidents and prime ministers, the Network augments face-to-face meetings with ongoing peer-to-peer exchanges, to facilitate constant exchange of knowledge and experience between the new leaders and the Network’s advisors, with the vision that a global forum for exchanging information and expertise on democratization shall support leaders as they work to build strong, accountable institutions andestablish the rule of law.
UN Democracy Caucus
In the original “Warsaw Declaration,” participating governments promised 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.”
Supported by many democracy promotion NGOs, a "Campaign for a UN Democracy Caucus" was and continues to be coordinated by the Democracy Coalition Project, Freedom House, and the Transnational Radical Party.
On September 22, 2004, the Community of Democracies met for the first time as a “democracy caucus” in the UN. More than 80 foreign ministers and UN permanent representatives attended. Since then the caucus has functioned under the leadership of the country chairing the Convening Group with a stated purpose to promote a democratic agenda in the UN.
A Concert of Democracies has been proposed by various international relations scholars.
- Atlantic Union
- Community of Democratic Choice
- Community for Democracy and Human Rights
- Council for a Community of Democracies
- GUAM Organization for Democracy and Economic Development
- United Nations Parliamentary Assembly
- “Warsaw Declaration: Toward a Community of Democracies”, Toward a Community of Democracies Ministerial Conference, Warsaw, Poland, 2000-06-27.
- Annan, Kofi (2000-06-27) (PDF). UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's Closing Remarks to the Ministerial (Speech). Warsaw, Poland. http://www.demcoalition.org/pdf/un_secertary_gen_kofi_annan.pdf. Retrieved 2007-05-16.
- "Democracy and Development" to be the main theme of El Salvador's Presidency of the Community of Democracies
- Democracy Coalition Project (December 2004). "Country Assessments: Invitation Process for the Community of Democracies" (PDF). Retrieved 2007-05-16.
- Campaign for a UN Democracy Caucus
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