[First published January 17, 2006] In answer to all those who believe that, with the apparent exception of President Bush “using war to spread democracy,” nothing is being done to do so nonviolently. This is wrong, and leads to an unfortunate pessimism about the future. There is much reason for hope, and I hope that this post helps show why.
There is an official multinational and unofficial effort of nongovernmental organizations to secure and further democratic freedom. Most of their activity is unknown, simply because they are ignored by the major media. But, members of the freedomist network, which includes this democratic peace blog, should know of them as an extension of our effort, although they don’t know of us.
Democratic activists, practitioners, academics, policy makers, and funders, have come together to cooperate in the organized international promotion of democratic freedom. They call this a World Movement for Democracy (WMD). It has it’s own website, publications, regular online <A HREF="http://www.wmd.org/democracynews.html"Democracy News(see link below), courses, a steering committee, secretariat, and periodic assemblies. Its first and organizing Assembly was held in India in 1999; its second in Brazil in 2000 involved democrats from 93 countries, and more meetings have and will be held. The stated purpose of the organization is “to strengthen democracy where it is weak, to reform and invigorate democracy even where it is longstanding, and to bolster pro-democracy groups in countries that have not yet entered a process of democratic transition.” You can replace “democracy” with “freedom” in the above without loss of meaning, for what is usually meant is not only an electoral democracy, but one the also secures its citizens civil and political rights and liberties.
There also is the new <A HREF="http://www.state.gov/www/global/human_rights/democracy/cdi_official.html"Community of Democracies (COD) . Foreign ministers and representatives of 106 democratic governments met in Warsaw, Poland, in 2000 and concluded with the Warsaw Declaration. This expressed their unified “commitment to promote, strengthen and preserve democracy.”
Moreover, there was a meeting in Warsaw of a non-governmental first <A HREF= "http://www.batory.org.pl/english/events/wfd/""World Forum on Democracy." It included 300 democratic activists, current and former political leaders, academics, and nongovernmental organization representatives from 85 countries. Its purpose was to discuss and advance “democratic governance and values throughout the world.” Clinton’s Secretary of State Albright addressed the forum, and pointed out that, “We need a true democratic community; defined not by what we are against, but by what we are for; enshrined by leaders from every point on the compass; and strengthened by the full participation of civil society.”
The COD is an Alliance of Democracies yet in its infancy. Now the democracies should strengthen its organization and functions, and better focus its efforts on a forward strategy of freedom (to borrow President Bush’s phrase). It already has taken action to mandate the creation of a UN Democracy Caucus. The caucus convening group was Chile, Czech Republic, India, Mali, Mexico, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, South Africa, and the United States, and the caucus now has a website.
Cheers, freedom networkians. These much needed organizational reforms and developments are well underway. If you are astounded that you didn’t know about this, you should be. In all the articles I’ve read on UN reform in the major media, not one to my memory mentioned the COD or the democratic caucus.
Links of Note
Democracy News (March 2005) An Electronic Newsletter of the World Movement for Democracy
RJR: You’ve got to see this newspaper (available by free email subscription) to see how useful it is as a dynamic signpost and useful source on global pro-democracy activities.
“The State of Human rights in Ten Asian Nations — 2005” PDF. A Report of the Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong (yes, Hong Kong):
On the occasion of International Human Rights Day, December 10, 2005, the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has produced the following series of reports, in order to present the state of human rights in the following ten Asian countries: Thailand, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Burma, the Philippines, Cambodia, South Korea and Indonesia.
RJR: Any guess as to why China and N. Korea are omitted?
Hugh Thompson Jr., a former Army helicopter pilot honored for rescuing Vietnamese civilians from his fellow GIs during the My Lai massacre, died early Friday. He was 62.
RJR: There are heroes and heroes, and Thomson is at the top of my list. This hero intervened with his fellow soldiers to stop their killing of My Lai Vietnamese villagers. He saved many lives. If you don’t know what courage this took, you must not have been in the military.
“Robbing the Congo. Part II: unspeakable richness”
You may remember my estimate of the colonial democide since 1900 because of new information on King Leopold’s wholly owned (that is, it was HIS) Congo Free State. This blog post provides a good summary of Leopold systematic mass murder of the natives and rape of the Congo’s resources for . . . . money.
“The Prejudice Map: According to Google, people in the world are known for …”. Fascinating, but misnamed. Views on national character are not necessarily prejudicial, but often reflect actual national character in the experience of tourists, visitors, and diplomats. Is there any doubt that Italians are passionate people who gesture a lot, while Germans really love their beer and are obsessive rule followers.
Russia and China made clear on Tuesday they did not favor U.N. sanctions to induce Iran to scale back its nuclear program, and Tehran urged the European Union to return to the negotiating table.
RJR: As you know, both Russia and China have a veto on the Security Council. But the idea is to go on record as trying through the UN to do something about Iran’s forthcoming nukes. That having been covered for the go-to-the-UN-crowd, the only next step is . . . .