Democracies Need More Than Rhetorical Support from the International Community When Their Survival Is at Stake

November 8, 2002

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Full text and an Executive Summary of “Threats to Democracy: Prevention and Response

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November 8, 2002 – Democratic governments, international organizations and NGOs have responded poorly and often at cross purposes when democracies are threatened by coups or erosions of the democratic process, concludes an independent task force led by two of the world’s leading pro-democracy voices, former Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright, and former Foreign Minister of Poland, Bronislaw Geremek.

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The report, sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, says key international actors are paying more attention to the plight of new democracies, but have yet to take necessary steps to turn their good intentions into a viable plan of action that can marshal the resources and political clout of the world’s democratic community.

The task force, which includes dignitaries from six continents, has put forward a series of recommendations for more effective action to deter or respond to unconstitutional interruptions of the democratic process and the erosions of democracy and democratic institutions.

The task force’s recommendations will be presented to more than 130 foreign delegations at the Community of Democracies (CD), which will hold its second biannual meeting of ministers in Seoul this week. The Task force calls on the CD to implement these recommendations when there is a threat to the survival of democracy in one of its member states. The recommendations include:

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  • Increase development assistance to new democracies, especially where there is popular frustration about the lack of economic benefits deriving from the establishment of a democracy;

     

     

  • Develop “democracy erosion” indicators for international financial and trade institutions to target their assistance and stem the erosion;

     

     

  • Encourage new democracies to adopt strong domestic laws guaranteeing free elections; human rights; independence of the judiciary; and other measures to promote civil society;

     

     

  • Spur regional organizations to adopt “democracy clauses,” that would bar membership of governments that have come to power through unconstitutional means; and secure adoption by the CD of agreed standards for free and fair elections;

     

     

  • Explore the possibility of making the interruption of democracy a crime under international law.

     

     

 

The report concludes that support for democracy is not only consistent with the ideals of the world’s democracies, but also with their interests and security. Democratic states are “less likely to breed terrorists or to be state sponsors of terrorism,” and more likely to be “active participants in the global economy.” The task torce report asserts an individual’s right to democracy and to participate in the government of his or her own state as a “fundamental international human right.”

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Secretary Albright served as the 64th secretary of state of the United States. She is chairman of the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and founding partner of the Albright Group LLC. Foreign Minister Geremek is the chair of European Civilization at the College of Europe, Natolin Campus, in Warsaw, Poland. Ministers Albright and Geremek represented their governments at the first meeting of the Community of Democracies in Warsaw, Poland in June 2002.

The task force was directed by Morton H. Halperin, one of the world’s leading authorities on international strategies to strengthen and protect the world’s democracies. He is senior fellow and director of the Center for Democracy and Free Markets at the Council on Foreign Relations and Washington director of the Open Society Institute, and was director of the Policy Planning Staff at the Department of State from 1998-2001. Elizabeth Bagley, the task force associate director, is of counsel at Manatt, Phelps and Phillips in Washington, D.C. and senior managing director of Manatt Jones Global Strategies LLC.

The Council on Foreign Relations is a nonpartisan foreign policy organization dedicated to increasing America’s understanding of the world and contributing ideas to U.S. foreign policy.

 

Full text and an Executive Summary of
“Threats to Democracy: Prevention and Response

 


 

TASK FORCE MEMBERS

 

Principals:

MADELEINE K. ALBRIGHT
Former Secretary of State, United States of America
CHAIR

BRONISLAW GEREMEK
Former Foreign Minister, Poland
CHAIR

MORTON H. HALPERIN
Senior Fellow, Council on Foreign Relations
DIRECTOR

ELIZABETH FRAWLEY BAGLEY
Senior Managing Director, Manatt Jones Global Strategies, LLC
ASSOCIATE DIRECTOR

 


 

GENARO ARRIAGADA
Chairman of the Board, Siete +7
Former Chilean Ambassador to the United States

YOSSI BEILIN
Senior Researcher, Economic Cooperation Foundation
Former Justice Minister, Israel

ALEX I. EKWUEME
Chairman of the Board of Trustees, People’s Democratic Party
Former Vice President, Nigeria

ABDUL KARIM EL-ERYANI
Former Prime Minister, Republic of Yemen

SUNG-JOO HAN
Acting President, Korea University
Former Foreign Minister, Korea

JOHN HUME
Member, European Parliament
Former Leader, Social Democratic Labor Party (SDLP) of Northern Ireland

HINA JILANI
Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General on Human Rights Defenders

MICHEL ROCARD
Member, European Parliament
Former Prime Minister, France

CHARLES SAMPFORD
Director, Key Centre for Ethics, Law, Justice and Governance, Australia

EDUARDO STEIN BARILLAS
President, Foundation of the Americas
Former Foreign Minister, Guatemala

JUSUF WANANDI
Founder-member, Board of Trustees of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), Jakarta


Contact: Lisa Shields, Director of Communications, 212-434-9888

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