The United Nations does more than any other single organization to promote and strengthen democratic institutions and democratic practices around the world, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the Community of Democracies today.
“In that work, we are conscious that, while democracy is a universal value, there is no uniform model to be applied,” he said in a message to the Community’s Third Ministerial Meeting in Santiago, Chile, delivered by former President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico, who is one of the Secretary-General’s envoys for next September’s UN summit.
“We are fully aware that, while democracy must come from within, international cooperation can help support it. And we have learned that while elections are a vital part of democracy, much more is required,” he added.
UN electoral staff is currently helping conduct elections in 45 countries and its human rights staff are at work in 39 countries, while dozens of other countries have benefited from technical or advisory missions and visits from special human rights rapporteurs and other human rights experts, Mr. Annan said.
The Community of Democracies describes itself as “a community of democratic countries, initiated in 1999 with the goal of strengthening democratic and values at the national, regional and global levels,” with a set of recommendations and demands known as the Warsaw Declaration.
Mr. Annan said the struggle for democracy required not only constant vigilance against unconstitutional seizures of power, but also the provision for the basic well-being of citizens, without which confidence in democracy could decline.
He invited members of the Community to contribute to a new voluntary Democracy Fund – proposed by United States President George W. Bush – that would assist projects to build and strengthen democratic institutions and governance.
Mr. Annan noted that in his “In Larger Freedom” reform agenda, now being discussed by UN Member States, he proposed a comprehensive strategy for international cooperation on development, security and human rights.
He said he hoped world leaders meeting in September to review the first five years of the Millennium Declaration on reducing or eliminating host of socio-economic ills by 2015 would “summon the vision and pragmatism to make far-reaching reforms and to renew the UN, rendering it a more effective instrument of their common purpose.
“In that effort, the Community of Democracies has a vital role to play – and, I believe, a clear interest in playing it,” he said.