21 November 2000


Press Release
GA/9830



ASSEMBLY ADOPTS TEXT ON COOPERATION BETWEEN UNITED NATIONS, ECONOMIC COOPERATION ORGANIZATION

20001121

Also Considers Question of UN Support For Promotion, Consolidation of New or Restored Democracies

The General Assembly this morning stressed the importance of cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization in addressing the challenges and opportunities of globalization by promoting the integration of States members into the world economy, particularly in areas such as trade, finance and transfer of technology. It did so by adopting a resolution without a vote. [The Economic Cooperation Organization is a regional cooperation arrangement between the sponsors of the resolution: Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Turkey, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.]

By the terms of the resolution, the Assembly will note the increasing problem of the production, transit and abuse of narcotic drugs and their ill-effects in the region, and call upon the other international and regional organizations to assist the Economic Cooperation Organization in its efforts against the drug menace.

Introducing the draft, the representative of Iran said that in the current global environment, both developed and developing countries had found it inevitable to pull resources together to deal with the complicated challenges they faced. They had undertaken to establish institutional frameworks in order to strengthen their individual and collective capacities to profit from the opportunities of globalization. The Economic Cooperation Organization, composed of 10 developing countries, was a regional arrangement that aimed at the expansion and consolidation of economic, technical and technological cooperation among its States members.

This morning the Assembly also took up consideration of support by the United Nations system of the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies.

The representative of Benin, introducing a draft resolution on the subject, said modern history was the history of the progress of democracy. However, the development of democracy had not always followed a linear path. There were periods of disappointment. That was why representatives from more than


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100 countries would be meeting in Cotonou, Benin, from 4 to 6 December, for the fourth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies, to evaluate what was at stake in the challenges facing democratizing societies at the dawn of the new millennium.

Romania’s representative, also introducing the draft resolution, said democracy was a process that was always subject to improvement and that benefited not only from continuous efforts of States but also from dialogue and international cooperation. The process of democratization had brought together countries from all continents, imbued with the desire to act together. Reflections on the topic had made a significant contribution to the common vision of democracy, which was intimately linked to development, political and social stability and peace.

Cuba's representative said there would not be democracy without freedom, without people's participation, without social justice, without individual and collective well-being, without development and without human solidarity. Thus, democracy could not be confined to the exercise of civil and political rights; economic and social rights must be taken into account. A single model of democracy had never existed, nor would one ever exist. His country had a popular and participatory democracy, without political parties as "intermediaries", where the people exercised their power. He called for an understanding and respect for the Cuban experience, which was not offered as a model for other countries.

The United Nations was not entitled to judge the elections or the political systems of its Member States, he said. It should limit itself to providing the assistance requested by the State in question. The model of Western or representative democracy could not be exported to developing countries, since it was seriously called into question in industrialized countries by their own citizens, with more than half the electorate not really partaking in the decision- making process. His Government could not accept the industrialized countries' views on freedoms and political rights when nothing was done to eradicate poverty and ensure development; to prevent millions of people from dying of hunger and curable diseases; to educate illiterate people; to shelter the homeless; to ensure longevity for the elderly; to ensure the advancement of women; and to offer children a future to live for. He urged the United Nations to allocate its resources and action to the legitimate interests of the overwhelming majority of Member States.

The representative of the United States said the international community, including the United Nations, had to ensure that often-difficult democratic transitions were ultimately successful. Support from the United Nations gave encouragement and much needed assistance to those in government and in civil society around the world who were striving to build durable democratic systems, often under testing circumstances.

He said the International Conference of New or Restored Democracies had provided an important venue for emerging democracies to come together to discuss common challenges. It had called to the world’s attention the inextricable link


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between democracy and development, and the pivotal contribution of good governance and the rule of law to building more democratic, peaceful, stable and prosperous societies.

The representatives of France (on behalf of the European Union and associated States), Ukraine, Belarus, Mongolia, Yemen, Republic of Korea, Nicaragua, Ecuador, Mali, Philippines, Nigeria, Nepal, Indonesia and Norway also spoke, as did the Permanent Observer for the International Organization of la Francophonie.

The Assembly will meet again at a date to be announced in the Journal.



General Assembly Plenary - 3 - Press Release GA/9830 70th Meeting (AM) 21 November 2000

Assembly Work Programme

The Assembly met this morning to take up consideration of cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization, and support by the United Nations system of efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies.

Cooperation between United Nations and Economic Cooperation Organization

Before the Assembly was a report of the Secretary-General on cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization (document A/55/122), which covers the status of cooperative relationships between the Economic Cooperation Organization and various United Nations organizations during 1999 and 2000.

The organizations covered are: the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD); International Trade Centre; International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas; Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA); United Nations International Drug Control Programme; Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (ESCAP); and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

The Assembly also had before it a draft resolution submitted by Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. By the draft, the General Assembly would stress the importance of increasing international cooperation to address the challenges of globalization through the full participation of the developing countries and countries with economies in transition in international economic and financial policy decision-making, as well as reversing the trend of marginalization of many developing countries and countries with economies in transition, in the areas of trade, finance and technology.

The Assembly would note the increasing problem of the production, transit and abuse of narcotic drugs and their ill-effects in the Central Asian region, and call upon the other international and regional organizations to assist the Economic Cooperation Organization in its efforts against the drug menace in the Economic Cooperation Organization region.

Further to the draft, the General Assembly would invite the United Nations system, its relevant bodies and the international community to continue to provide technical assistance to the States members of the Economic Cooperation Organization in strengthening their early warning system, preparedness, capacity for timely response and rehabilitation.

Support by United Nations System of Efforts of Governments to Promote and Consolidate New or Restored Democracies

Before the Assembly was a report of the Secretary-General (document A/55/489) on the support by the United Nations system of the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies. The present report was submitted pursuant to General Assembly resolution 54/36. It describes the activities that took place in the follow-up process to the Third International Conference of New or Restored Democracies on Democracy and Development. It also addresses some conceptual issues related to democratization and proposes some strategic and organizational measures for consideration by the General Assembly and the Benin Conference.

The report recommends the adoption of a new learning approach, the development of a "democracy database" and strategic partnerships. It was also recommended that the "westernization" of experts be avoided and that local actors be more actively involved in the process. The report emphasizes the development of integrated United Nations programmes for democracy assistance and the design of common country strategies that are locally owned and ensure continuous assessment. Furthermore, it is recommended that a roster of experts and a strategic unit be developed and that coordination and information-sharing be improved.

Before the Assembly was also a report of the Secretary-General on support by the United Nations system of the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies (document A/55/520), containing Member States’ views on the subject in reply to a note verbale of the Secretary-General dated 14 March, and a further note verbale dated 3 July. The report contains replies received from the Governments of Cuba, San Marino, Romania, Japan and Germany.

In Cuba’s view, according to the report, the power of the people is the very essence of democracy. Democracy has followed many models, throughout history and in various civilizations and cultures. The international community must combat adverse trends that can be observed in the work of some intergovernmental organs of the United Nations system, such as the manipulation of international cooperation for the promotion and consolidation of democracies to serve the interest of a small group of rich and powerful countries, in total disregard of the right of peoples to self-determination, as well as the growing tendency of donors to impose conditions on the provision of development assistance to countries of the South. Cuba bases its democratic system on the principles of freedom, popular participation, social justice, individual and collective well- being and human solidarity.

The report notes that, according to Romania, the experience of democratic construction in that country demonstrates that economic success is a prerequisite for sustaining democracy. Freedom in poverty is not at all desirable. A young democracy must have a well-established, professional civil service, able to recruit persons of intelligence and to put into practice at all levels the development of a vertical and horizontal culture of cooperation between the various branches of government.

In the report, the Government of Germany addresses the process of transformation in Germany after it achieved national unity 10 years ago.

The General Assembly had before it a draft resolution (document A/55/L.32/Rev.1) sponsored by Andorra, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Benin, Bulgaria, Chile, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Guatemala, Hungary, Italy, Japan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Mali, Malta, Monaco, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Norway, Paraguay, Philippines, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Republic of Moldova, Romania, San Marino, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Thailand, The former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, United States, Uruguay and Yemen, on support by the United Nations system of the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies.

By the terms of the draft, the General Assembly would invite the Secretary- General, Member States, the relevant specialized agencies, programmes, funds and other bodies of the United Nations system, as well as other intergovernmental organizations, to collaborate in the holding of the Fourth International Conference on New or Restored Democracies.

By the same terms, the Assembly would stress that activities undertaken by the Organization must be in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations, and would encourage the Secretary-General to continue to improve the capacity of the Organization to respond effectively to the requests of Member States through coherent, adequate support of their efforts to achieve the goals of good governance and democratization.

Further to the terms, the Assembly would encourage Member States to promote democratization and to make additional efforts to identify possible steps to support the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies.

Cooperation between United Nations and Economic Cooperation Organization

HADI NEJAD HOSSEINIAN (Iran), introducing the draft resolution (document A/55/L.22/Rev.1), said that in the current global environment, the world had become more integrated and border-less. Both developed and developing countries had found it inevitable to pull resources together to deal with the complicated challenges they faced. They had undertaken to establish institutional frameworks themselves in order to strengthen their individual and collective capacities to enable them to profit from the opportunities of globalization. Simultaneously, an important aspect of those common efforts had been to avoid the negative and destabilizing effects of the process. Since few developing countries seemed to be in a position to face those challenges, establishment of regional groupings had become a common approach. Establishment and strengthening of regional arrangements in economic, trade and finance areas required an associated and conducive international environment, especially in the field of capacity building.

The Economic Cooperation Organization, comprised of 10 developing countries, was a regional arrangement that aimed at the expansion and consolidation of economic, technical and technological cooperation among its States members. The longer-term objective was the promotion of common institutions for smooth movement of goods and capital among States members and facilitation of their gradual integration into the world economy. Expansion of cooperation in the social and cultural fields had also received increasing attention within the Economic Cooperation Organization. Establishment of cooperative arrangements with United Nations bodies and agencies had been at the heart of those efforts. That area of fruitful cooperation enjoyed huge potentials that needed to be further explored and materialized, he said.

Although the geographical position and the economic potential of the Economic Cooperation Organization region provided the necessary ingredients for sound and stable economic growth in the region, the challenges were quite extensive, with protection of the environment prominent among them. The region was also among the geographical areas highly prone to natural disasters, particularly earthquake and drought, and afflicted with the problem of illicit cultivation and production, trafficking and consumption of narcotic drugs. The growing level and pace of cooperation between the Economic Cooperation Organization and such bodies as the UNDP,UNCTAD, UNFPA, FAO and others was encouraging. New areas could be jointly explored with such other agencies as the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM). In the matter of narcotic drugs in the region, cooperation among the Economic Cooperation Organization and the United Nations International Drug Control Programme and other intergovernmental and international and regional organizations was imperative.

Action on Draft Resolution A/55/L.22/Rev.1

The Assembly adopted, without a vote, the draft resolution “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Economic Cooperation Organization”, and decided to conclude its consideration of the matter.

Support by United Nations System of Efforts of Governments to Promote and Consolidate New or Restored Democracies

SORIN DUCARU (Romania), introducing the draft resolution on the efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies (document A/55/L.32/Rev.1), said he had been gratified to see that heads of State at the Millennium Summit had dedicated a separate chapter to human rights, democracy and good governance. That emphasized the commitment and importance of those factors to the international community.

He pointed out that democracy was a process that was always subject to improvement, and that benefited not only from continuous efforts of States but also from dialogue and international cooperation. Being a newly restored democracy, Romania had taken an active part in the field of democratization. The process of democratization had brought together countries from all continents, imbued with the desire to act together. Reflections on the topic had made a significant contribution to the common vision of democracy, which was intimately linked to development, political and social stability, and peace. Democracy was the best means of preventing conflicts in the world and it ensured that all could participate in political life. The international debate on the experience of democracy around the world and on shared democratic values remained a priority function of the United Nations, he said. He hoped that adoption by the Third Committee of a resolution on the promotion and consolidation of democracy would strengthen governments’ efforts to that end.

He announced that since the publication of the draft resolution, the following countries had also become co-sponsors: Albania, Argentina, Bangladesh, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, Dominican Republic, Luxembourg, Liechtenstein, Namibia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, and Ukraine.

JOEL W. ADECHI (Benin), also introducing the draft, said it was a privilege for Benin to welcome the Fourth International Conference for New and Restored Democracies. Modern history was the history of the progress of democracy. However, the development of democracy had not always followed a linear path. There were periods of disappointment. That was why representatives from more than 100 countries would be meeting in Benin in a few weeks time, to evaluate what was at stake in the challenges facing democratizing societies at the dawn of the new millennium.

He said democracy was sensitive to economic crises, tempting young democracies to go back to totalitarian rule. There must also be concern about the growing helplessness of young democracies faced with the gradual shrinking of the range of decreasing initiatives needed to guarantee their survival. How to sustain young democracies was the question. His country had invited States of the whole continent to deliberate on the question and propose solutions. He appealed to the Assembly to adopt the draft resolution by consensus.

PHILIPPE BOSSIERE (France), speaking on behalf of the European Union and associated States, said that the European Union fully supported the efforts of governments embarking on the road to democracy. It was important that the United Nations, because of its universal dimension, should be the forum for reflection in this area, and that it should support States committed and willing to pursue a political direction of democracy. The Third Committee had recently adopted a resolution on the consolidation and promotion of democracy. The European Union was committed to those shared values, he said. However, it was very important not to lose sight of the fact that democracy was a process where a variety of social, economic and cultural factors came into play. Without acknowledging those factors, effective support would have no real meaning.

The European Union had taken note of the report of the Secretary-General and the recommendations therein. The report contained some very high-quality thinking, he said. Any process of democratization implied a radical transformation in values, procedures and institutions. Democracy presupposed the effective participation of people in political life. Within that context, the emancipation of women was one of the most important factors. Equally important were the promotion of civil society and the emergence of a human rights culture. It was also essential that the exercise of fundamental rights and freedoms should be guaranteed and protected, and that an effort to educate and inform the citizenship be taken. The construction of democracy was also a process that could not be separated from the rule of law, the training of public officials, the consolidation of independent officials, and other mechanisms which combined to sustain the democratic process. The European Union attached importance to those policies.

He emphasized that there was not just one road to democracy or one pre-established model to guarantee its success. There was a distinction between elections and democratization. The European Union had lent its support to electoral processes across the world. The election process was an important stage, even though it was not the only foundation for those processes. It was also important to have an enabling environment with a free press, genuine political debate, and where people were aware of their rights. The orderly conduct of elections could not be seen as the final stage of international assistance, it had to be seen in the longer term.

VOLODYMYR YEL’CHENKO (Ukraine) said that democratization was one of the most frequently used words today. The General Assembly had become very proficient at drafting universal and regional documents, in which the most fundamental principles of democracy were enshrined. The United Nations was also covering practically every possible contingency that might threaten democracy. Furthermore, it would be difficult to find a country in the world that would call itself undemocratic. But, it was important to recognize that democracy meant different things to different people. There was an urgent need to develop a common denominator for democratic values, a global system of coordinates to measure individual progress on the road towards democracy, while recognizing that each nation must traverse that path on its own.

The traditions of democracy and protection of human rights indeed had deep historic roots in Ukraine. Almost 10 centuries ago, after the embrace of Christianity, Prince Volodymyr, then the head of State, abolished the death penalty. Furthermore, at the beginning of the seventeenth century, the Ukrainian Kozak Republic had become one of the first historically proved democracies in Europe. That was one of the historic reasons for Ukrainians today to fully appreciate the value of democracy. Because of its absence in succeeding centuries, the Ukrainian people had suffered from endless oppressions, foreign dominations, totalitarian dictatorships, and even the man-made famine, which still stood as the worst human and intellectual genocide of the 1930s.

Today, Ukraine was one of the few newly independent States that had been spared ethnic conflict or unrest. The rule of law and supremacy of the Constitution had become the guiding principles of political reality. Being not only a consumer, but also a provider of security, stability and democracy, Ukraine shared the acquired knowledge by further projecting democracy’s reach. The GUUAM group of countries (Georgia, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan and the Republic of Moldova) was a visible new example of multifaceted cooperation, incorporated into the very idea of a community of democracies. Those countries upheld the rule of law, democratic governance, civil society and market economy in order to fully integrate into European economic and political structures.

SERGEI LING (Belarus) said the question problem of extending democracies had become a major topic of philosophical and political reflection. Belarus saw symbolic significance in the fact that the United Nations was discussing ways of helping to strengthen new and restored democracies. He was in favour of the United Nations remaining the instrument for helping the dialogue along. It was impossible to exaggerate the difficulty of the task, but the movement towards democracy was a natural progress. Imposing democratic recipes from outside and dividing States into civilized and uncivilized was counter-productive.

Belarus was one of the youngest democracies in the world, barely 10 years old. But that was long enough to become a stable and predictable State. It had voluntarily renounced nuclear weapons, signed the Agreement on conventional weapons in Europe, and had set up independent government institutions. All that was an important development for peace and stability in Europe. But 10 years was not that long. There was no quick solution to the problems of democratization. Local conditions were essential factors in evaluating “degrees” of democracy.

This year, for the first time, elections had been held for the Lower House of Belarus, as a result of the Election Code established by the hard work of all the nation's institutions. There had been 200 independent observers present for the elections, but, regrettably, the United Nations had not sent its experts. He was convinced that the United Nations should respond positively to invitations to take part in the development of democracies.

JARGALSAIKHANY ENKHSAIKHAN (Mongolia) said the experience of many countries had shown that democracy upheld the rule of law, ensured respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, made governments accountable to citizens, and made decision-making transparent. On the other hand, not all governments had succeeded in living up to democratic standards and providing for everyone the freedom and conditions necessary to participate fully in their political, economic and social life. Many of the new or restored democracies still needed support in their efforts to promote and consolidate their democratic choice and standards. In that regard, the series of international conferences of new or restored democracies was playing an increasing role.

An important outcome of those conferences was the initiative to jointly work out a code of democratic conduct, on the basis of existing international standards. A universally accepted code of democratic conduct, representing the basic set of democratic norms for governments, would, in his country's view, contribute to the affirmation of a culture of democracy.

Over the past 10 years of democratic reforms, Mongolia had taken major steps in building the institutions of democracy, promoting human rights, and unleashing people's entrepreneurial and creative energy, thus facilitating their participation in the economic, social and political process. The new Government of Mongolia had underlined the importance of enhancing the effectiveness, transparency and accountability of public offices, and was determined to closely cooperate with non-governmental organizations and other representatives of civil society to enhance the rule of law throughout the country.

IBRAHIM AL-ADOOFI (Yemen) said that during the few last years, democratic concepts had spread all over the world, aiming to strengthen the political and social stability of a host of countries. It was important to realize that democracy could not be free from the particulars of each society; each society had its own historical and cultural background. It was necessary to maintain and improve social cohesion in the development of democracy, he said. Good governance could not develop further unless it aimed to combat poverty and increase economic capabilities.

He appreciated the report of the Secretary-General on United Nations endeavours in the area and the role played by international conferences. Yemen was fully committed to democratic principles and cooperation with the United Nations to bring about democracy. In that context, he referred to the Forum for Emerging Democracies of 1999, where 16 countries had participated and their press and unions had also played a part. Democracy, diversity of options, and respect for individuals were the pillars of democracy. Democracy could be seen in Yemen in its free press, its democratic institutions and the strong public participation of people in political life. The democratic process had become an important part of daily life in Yemen.

MORTON HALPERIN (United States) strongly supported the draft and congratulated Benin for hosting the upcoming Conference of New and Restored Democracies. The Organization was increasingly called upon to consider resolutions related to democracy. The international Conference had provided an important venue for emerging democracies to come together to discuss common challenges. It had called to the world’s attention the inextricable link between democracy and development, and the pivotal contribution of good governance and the rule of law to building more democratic, peaceful, stable and prosperous societies.

The Conference had been an inspiring testimony to the stunning growth of democracies around the world in the last decade. The international community, including the United Nations, had to ensure that often-difficult democratic transitions were ultimately successful. Support from the United Nations gave encouragement and much needed assistance to those in government and in civil society around the world who were striving to build durable democratic systems, often under testing circumstances.

The Community of Democracies, which had held its first Ministerial Meeting in Poland last June, was another example of how global and regional organizations could lend support to undertakings designed to strengthen democracy. More than 100 governments had taken part and had endorsed the Warsaw Declaration, embodying ideals and concrete practices common to all democracies. The International Conference of New or Restored Democracies and the Community of Democracies were mutually reinforcing and beneficial. They were united in a common purpose in viewing democracy as the essential pre-condition for a more peaceful, prosperous and just world, he said.

SUN JOUN-YUNG (Republic of Korea) said his delegation believed that democracy, development, peace and human rights were essentially interlinked and mutually reinforcing. There was a growing consensus that fundamental elements were to be found in both democracy and development, such as good governance, respect for human rights and the rule of law. Furthermore, democracies were less prone to fight with each other, as they inherently supported the cause of peace. His delegation was in full agreement that democracy, or lack thereof, was at the root of many of today's violent conflicts, the majority of which were internal. Hence there was a growing need to address the issue of democratization in State- building and peace-building operations.

His country highly appreciated the recommendations proposed in the expert report of the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. The potential of the United Nations to contribute to the cause of democracy would only be reached once the challenges identified in the report were overcome. First and foremost, it must be able to coordinate the actions of various departments and agencies within the United Nations system in order to avoid costly overlaps. His delegation reaffirmed the strong commitment of the Republic of Korea to support for the United Nations in implementing those forward-looking recommendations.

JOSE ANTONIO FLORES LOVO (Nicaragua) stressed the importance of United Nations system support for governments moving towards democracy through the management of the UNDP. The UNDP had allocated half of its budget to the political, social and economic fields. He said that Nicaraguan society had overcome many obstacles in its process of transition, in a spirit of coexistence between the various political parties. However, much work remained to be done. Nicaragua was committed to overcoming difficulties and deficiencies in order to stand up to the challenge of the consolidation of democracy. He emphasized the important role played by the social and economic spheres in political life, and stressed the need for transparency.

Nicaragua aspired to be treated more fairly within the international economic order and by international financial institutions. Without the latter, poverty would not be eradicated, there would be no sustainable development and hence no environment in which democracy could blossom. It was also important to give due attention to education and the promotion of a democratic culture. Efforts aimed at improving the professionalism of public and civil servants must lead to more democratic institutions, he said. Nicaragua was strengthening the rule of law and promoting respect for human rights. Of great importance was the will to promote the development of freedom of expression, which would require an objective and responsible press.

MARIO ALEMAN (Ecuador) said democracy was a concept combining realities and ideals. It was also a system subject to a continuous process of building and improvement. Democracy, development and respect for human rights were interdependent and mutually strengthening. Democracy originated in the free will of people to determine their proper political, economical, social and cultural system.

His country’s constitution stipulated that the State had a primary obligation to guarantee democracy, eradication of poverty, economic, social and cultural progress of its inhabitants, and respect for human rights. Since his country had emerged from military dictatorship in 1979, democratic institutions had been subject to harsh trials, but had survived and found ways and means to save the life of the republic.

Democracy did not just consist of periodic elections, he said. It must give positive meaning to actions of the State and reasons for its citizens to defend the State. Governments must not fail the expectations of their peoples -- but they also needed the support of the international community to carry out their social programmes. In some cases, over half of national budgets had to be spent on debt servicing. Any nation lacking the resources for economic and social needs, and plagued by an increase in illiteracy and suffering and constantly rising unemployment, would face an internal threat to peace and stability. That should not be forgotten by geo-strategists who ignored the needs of smaller countries only because they did not matter in the balance of global Powers. He said that without development there would be no peace or democracy, nor would there be respect for human rights.

MOCTAR OUANE (Mali) said that Mali attached great importance to the subject at hand. The report of the Secretary-General gave a much needed overview of the activities and ideas of the United Nations on this very subject. Democratic regimes represented the most popular means of governing in the world today, he said. They offered definite beneficial effects, and a good democratic experience gave the best tools to face up to the challenges of the twenty-first century. Democracy allowed governments to assume the burden and honour of being a man in the service of man. Democracy was inseparable from development, he said, and would be fragile if a minimum level of well-being were not provided for the population.

Mali had been involved in a genuine democratic experience, and had taken steps to promote good governance and to fight against corruption and financial delinquency. Each citizen had been involved in the decentralization of power through the establishment of 701 municipalities. Internationally, Mali supported and promoted several initiatives for the promotion and consolidation of democracy. He welcomed the Warsaw Declaration, which called for cooperation between democracies in the exchange of best practices. He hoped that the Community of Democracies would succeed in promoting democracies around the world. He condemned all coups d’état. There were no such things as good or bad coups d’état, he said.

BRUNO RODRIGUEZ (Cuba) said that democracy could not be confined to the exercise of civil and political rights; economic and social rights must also be taken into account, he said. A single model for democracy had never existed, nor would one ever exist. A multi-party system did not mean democracy, and democracy did not require the existence of a multi-party system. He was proud to say that Cuba had a popular and participatory democracy, without political parties as "intermediaries", where the people exercised their power. His country called for an understanding and respect for the Cuban experience, which was not offered as a model for other countries.

The Secretary-General's report made no mention of the Charter of the United Nations, nor the sovereignty of States, nor sovereign equality. Nor did the report make reference to the right of free determination of peoples, nor did it proscribe foreign interference. Cuba believed that the United Nations and its agencies were not entitled to judge the elections or the political systems of its Member States. The United Nations should limit itself to providing the assistance requested by the State in question, he said. Cuba reiterated its opposition to any kind of intervention in developing countries, using the pretext of the "right of democracy" in order to legitimize "humanitarian intervention".

The model of Western or representative democracy could not be exported to developing countries, since it was seriously challenged by its own citizens in industrialized countries, with more than half the electorate thinking that they did not really partake in the decision-making process, and that the political model was elite-oriented and exclusionary. Cuba noted that the main exporter of democracy had been going through a special crisis, which was structural -- indicating that its democratic model had been distorted for a long time and had stopped working. Democracy could not exist in a society where half of the people did not register to vote, and where the President could be elected by 26 per cent of voters. The Government of Cuba could not accept the industrialized countries' views on freedoms and political rights when nothing was done to eradicate poverty and ensure development; to prevent millions of people from dying of hunger and curable diseases; to educate illiterate people; to shelter the homeless; to ensure longevity for the elderly; to ensure the advancement of women; and to offer children a future to live for. In closing, he urged the United Nations to allocate its resources and action to the legitimate interests of the overwhelming majority of Member States.

FELIPE MABILANGAN (Philippines) said his delegation was gratified that the momentum towards greater democracy, which had started in the first related conference in Manila in 1988, had continued to generate global synergy for initiatives to support the process of democratization all over the world. The United Nations should continue its efforts at consolidating representative democracy and the rule of law as a system of government for all. Democratic governance fostered political pluralism and the effective participation of citizens in the process of nation building, and enhanced good governance and the ethical discharge of public duties by those holding the reins of power. The Philippines also subscribed to the view that democracy acted as a catalytic force for sustainable development by liberating the energies and talents of people.

As a Government that derived its legitimacy from the will of the people, the Philippines ensured that its citizens participated in the political life of the nation. No specific country or group of countries could claim to have perfected the pursuit of democracy. Even established democracies had their weaknesses, but that should not be a deterrent for the promotion and consolidation of democracy in the world. He urged the United Nations to make that aim one of its highest priorities in the new millennium, and asked that all Members of the United Nations support the Benin Conference.

G.B. PREWARE (Nigeria) said he was pleased that the fourth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies was due to take place in Cotonou, Benin from 4 to 6 December. It would be the first time the Conference was held in Africa. This historic gathering would offer a global platform not only for the strengthening of democratic transformation, but also an opportunity to draw attention to emergent democracies, prospects, and challenges in Africa. He said the Nigerian experience showed there was no alternative to democracy, if the rule of law, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms were respected.

He noted that a new democratic Government had been installed in Nigeria in May 1999. It had led to a dramatic change in the socio-political environment, with no political detainees and with freedom of speech, active trade unionism, independence of the judiciary and due process of law. Where abuses had occurred, the Government had not shied away from exposing them, and seeking reconciliation between the citizenry and the agencies of governance. At present, a panel was holding public hearings on past human rights and related abuses. He hoped it would promote the spirit of reconciliation. "A people reconciled” he said , “are better placed to collectively combat the problems of poverty, insecurity and underdevelopment."

He said poverty bred frustration and multidimensional social problems. Democracy must seek to provide the environment where people were not only able to feed and clothe themselves, but also to plan for development. In addition, it must be able to provide dividends of inclusiveness, poverty alleviation, security and improvements in people's lives. Nigeria, he added, recognized the enormous challenges facing the promotion and consolidation of democracy; moreover, it reaffirmed its commitment to the cause of democracy, transparency and accountability in governance.

BHARAT REGMI (Nepal) said that it was disheartening to note that despite people's deep faith in democracy, a good proportion of emerging democracies had failed to make any meaningful impact in the area of socio-economic development because of poverty, illiteracy and numerous other reasons. Even in those countries where free and fair elections had taken place, democratization was only an electoral issue. Electoral democracy had yet to be transformed into opportunities for people to enjoy unfettered civil rights, and into the empowerment of people with improvements in their standards of living. In many parts of the democratic world, democracy was yet to be consolidated, institutionalized and strengthened. New or restored democracies still faced threats from the extreme right and left.

Human rights, democracy and development should go together, he continued. His delegation fully supported the draft resolution on promoting and consolidating democracy recently adopted by the Commission on Human Rights. Nepal, he went on, was a multi-ethnic, multilingual and democratic nation; the system of multi-party democracy and the provision of basic human rights to every citizen were immutable parts of his country's constitution. As such, Nepal had shown a great deal of concern to the inviolability of human rights. It had adopted a policy of poverty alleviation with a strong belief that the eradication of poverty would empower people and promote human rights and democracy. All delegates, particularly those of the developed countries, should adopt measures to increase the flow of resources to the newly and restored democracies, by enhancing official development assistance, so that those democracies could be enhanced, consolidated and institutionalized.

MAKARIM WIBISONO (Indonesia) said that his country was now enjoying a more democratic and egalitarian governance, regaining the democratic rights foreseen by the founding fathers of Indonesia. The transition to democracy had been marked by a number of fundamental changes in social and economic life, including the reduced role of the military in political life, while the rule of law had been strengthened. Although people were free to express political opinions -– and political debate had never been more vibrant -– Indonesia remained shackled by poverty, illiteracy and uncertainty. Millions of Indonesians were at the margins of society, disenfranchised by their precarious situations. Thus, like nascent democracies, his Government faced considerable challenges in meeting the needs of its people and in creating social stability.

Indonesia hoped that the international community would remain sensitive to the fragility existing in new democracies and in those that were re-emerging, particularly international financial institutions, which should give serious consideration to the impact that structural adjustments had on people. The Government of Indonesia was working to restore the confidence of the people in its governance. To that end, it had lifted the ban on political parties; released political prisoners jailed under the former Government; and encouraged freedom of expression and freedom of the press. In addition, there had been an ongoing review of existing legislation and the adoption of several international human rights instruments.

He recalled the Community of Democracies Ministerial Meeting, and its adoption of the Warsaw Declaration, which encompassed core democratic principles and practices. Indonesia welcomed the emphasis it gave to the promotion and protection of all human rights, and the right to development. His Government was encouraged by the Warsaw Declaration's affirmation of the need for cooperation in promoting and strengthening democracy, for recognizing the different stages of political development in each country, and for respecting sovereignty.

OLE PETER KOLBY (Norway) said there were more democratically elected governments today than ever before in history. While democracy as a concept had taken centre stage in the international political debate, its practical application still lagged behind. But the process of developing a real democratic society was a never-ending one. Norway was pleased to see that the international community was assigning increased priority to national and international efforts to strengthen and promote democracy. His Government supported the group of new and restored democracies that had been instrumental in putting democracy-building on the international political agenda. He pointed out that Norwegian development cooperation policy had been and continued to be focused on democracy-building, in the context of sustainable social and economic development, especially financial and technical assistance to elections in a number of developing countries.

There were different ways of organizing democracies, and allowances must be made for local factors, history and culture. Furthermore, democracy could not be imposed from without: it must be the fruit of a process and nurtured from within. His country believed that developing democracy took time because there was "no universal model for democracy". Democracy was a concept with a variety of meanings and definitions, he said. If the world was to develop into a family of democratic States, there should be a wide variety of applications of certain basic democratic principles.

A shortlist of principles was associated with the idea of democracy, he continued. Democracy required that authority rested with the people and that government must be accountable to the people. The purpose of a democratic government was to secure equality and Further, democracy rested on a system of institutions, laws and regulations which ensured that the will of the people was expressed at the level of government decision; and it rested on a system of checks and balances. It was a system for the selection and renewal of national leadership that was accountable to the people. The rule of law, transparency and accountability in the management of public affairs, respect for human rights and the full participation of all citizens in the decisions of government were all essential conditions for democracy, he said.

RIDHA BOUABID, Observer for the International Organization of la Francophonie, said that his organization had lent considerable expertise to the preparation process of the Benin Conference. It had identified and ensured the presence of several personalities who had played a major role in transitions to democracy. Furthermore, the Organization of la Francophonie had ensured that there would be a significant presence of French-speaking African delegates at the Conference, as well as financial and logistical assistance. In all, the organization had contributed some 2.5 million French francs.

Regarding democratic institutions, he said that the last 10 years had witnessed a constitutional effervescence promoting the pre-eminence of pluralist democracies and the rule of law. However, the institutions that had been established were facing fundamental problems in terms of real independence. The challenge was to increase the efficiency of institutions and their role in democracy. Much remained to be done in terms of the independence of parliaments and the judiciary, and in mediation and regulation.

Significant progress had been recorded during the last decade in terms of free elections, transparency and harmonization with essential norms of democracy. However, the electoral process was often marked by the relative youth of institutions, inadequate preparation, difficult socio-economic situations and reactionary mentalities. It was essential to promote the role of civil society in any electoral process, he said. In the political life of the State, the challenge of ethnic diversity also needed to be addressed.

His organization had adopted the Bamako Declaration during the recent Symposium, which had called for increased cooperation between States in the promotion of democracy. In light of the upcoming Conference in Benin, it was important to remember that there was no one way to achieve democracy. It was essential to recognize the historical, cultural and social backgrounds of each State. Furthermore, all dimensions of democracy, whether political, economic, social, cultural or legal, must be reflected in international relations. Steps must be taken to involve all sectors of society in the democratic process. The role of civil society, media and non-governmental organizations could not be ignored in that dialogue.

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