While democracy is widely seen as a universal value, much work remains to be done to turn it into a reality around the world, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told a global forum seeking to advance and strengthen the democratic path.
“This is the momentous goal that the Community of Democracies has set for itself,” Mr. Ban said in a message to the group’s fifth ministerial conference, held in Lisbon, Portugal, over the weekend.
“The Community of Democracies is not alone in these efforts. Many others are working towards the same goal, with the United Nations foremost among them,” he added, in a message delivered by Roland Rich, Executive Head of the UN Democracy Fund (UNDEF).
Mr. Ban noted that all governments at the 2005 World Summit had reaffirmed that democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and renewed their commitment to support democracy by strengthening the capacities of countries to this end.
The UN has been active in furthering this goal in a number of ways, he pointed out.
“Whether it is assisting executives and parliaments to strengthen democratic governance; building democratic objectives into peacekeeping missions; supporting electoral processes; empowering women; protecting the rights of children; or investing in the voice of civil society, the United Nations has adopted democracy as an end in itself as well as a means to achieve peace, development and respect for human rights.”
These activities give the UN and the Community of Democracies a great deal of common ground, he added.
Inaugurated in Warsaw at the first biennial ministerial conference in 2000, the Community is an intergovernmental organization of democracies and democratizing countries with a stated commitment to strengthening and deepening democratic norms and practices worldwide.
The initiative was spearheaded by former United States Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, along with seven co-conveners, including the Governments of Poland, Chile, the Czech Republic, India, Mali, and the Republic of Korea.