8 November 2007
General Assembly
GA/10655

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Sixty-second General Assembly

Plenary

46th Meeting (AM)


GENERAL ASSEMBLY DECLARES 15 SEPTEMBER INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DEMOCRACY;


ALSO ELECTS 18 MEMBERS TO ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COUNCIL

 


The General Assembly today declared 15 September as the International Day of Democracy, “which should be brought to the attention of all people for its celebration and observance”.


Adopting by consensus a new resolution, the Assembly recognized that 2008 marked the twentieth anniversary of the first International Conference of New or Restored Democracies, which would offer a special opportunity to focus attention on the promotion and consolidation of democracy at all levels.  As such, the world body decided to commemorate the International Day, and invited all Member States to participate in a manner that contributed to raising public awareness. 


By the resolution, which was introduced by Qatar during an animated 5 November plenary debate on new or restored democracies, the Assembly reaffirmed that democracy was a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems, and their full participation in all aspects of life.  It also reaffirmed that while democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy.


The Assembly further encouraged Governments to strengthen national programmes devoted to promoting and consolidating democracy, including through increased bilateral, regional and international cooperation.  Also by the text, the Assembly urged the Secretary-General to improve the United Nations’ capacity to effectively respond to States’ needs by supporting their efforts to achieve good governance and democratization.


In other action, the Assembly elected 18 members to the United Nations Economic and Social Council to serve for three-year terms beginning 1 January 2008.


Those elected today were Brazil, Cameroon, China, Congo, Iceland, Malaysia, Mozambique, Moldova, New Zealand, Niger, Pakistan, Poland, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Saint Lucia, Sweden, United Kingdom and Uruguay.


The 18 outgoing members were Albania, Brazil, Chad, China, Costa Rica, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Denmark, Guinea, Iceland, India, Lithuania, Mexico, New Zealand, Pakistan, Russian Federation, South Africa, Thailand and the United Kingdom.


The new members were elected according to the following pattern:  four from African States, four from Asian States, three from Eastern European States, three from Latin American and Caribbean States and four from Western European and Other States.


Ahead of those elections, the Assembly acted on a request from Germany to relinquish its Council seat for the Group of Western European and Other States at the end of 2007 for the remaining term in favour of Liechtenstein.   Liechtenstein was then elected to the Council for a one-year term of office beginning 1 January 2008.


As of 1 January 2008, the remaining members of the Council will be Algeria, Angola, Austria, Barbados, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Canada, Cape Verde, Cuba, the Czech Republic, El Salvador, France, Greece, Guinea-Bissau, Guyana, Haiti, Indonesia, Iraq, Japan, Kazakhstan, Liechtenstein, Luxembourg, Madagascar, Malawi, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Paraguay, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sri Lanka, Sudan and the United States.


Speaking on the resolution for new or restored democracies were the representatives of Benin and the Russian Federation.


The Assembly will reconvene at 10 a.m. Monday, 12 November, to consider the report of the Security Council on the question of equitable representation.


Background


The General Assembly met today to resume its consideration of the draft resolution entitled “Support by the United Nations system of the efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies” (document A/62/L.9).  For background, see Press Release GA/10654 issued 5 November.


The Assembly was also expected to elect 18 members to the Economic and Social Council to serve three-year terms beginning on 1 January 2008.


Action on Draft


The Assembly first resumed its consideration of a draft resolution related to its agenda item on “United Nations support to new or restored democracies,” following its plenary debate held on 5 November.


BORIS V. CHERNENKO ( Russian Federation), speaking before the vote, said his country supported the draft resolution and had actively participated in the intergovernmental practice of its principles.  In the opinion of the Russian Federation, the process of consolidating new or renewed democracies resolved two issues:  first, it performed an important function in facilitating the exchange of positive experiences in building democracies; second, it put in place a provision of support to States with new or renewed democracies as requested.  That would allow the enrichment of democracies across the world, giving them substantive principles.


He continued, saying there was not a single model for democracy and any attempts to unilaterally inculcate or implant a country’s own idea of democracy went against the spirit of the resolution.


The Assembly adopted the resolution by consensus.


Speaking in explanation of vote, JEAN-MARIE EHOUZOU ( Benin), as the host country of the Fourth International Conference on New or Restored Democracies, welcomed adoption of the draft resolution.  At the African level, his country was one of the main forces behind the drafting of the African Union Charter on Democracy, Elections, and Governance.  That text was a “true, priceless victory for the people of the African continent”.  The activities of Qatar and the advisory council were particularly welcome, and it was fortunate that the action plan of the advisory council for 2007-2009 had been adopted.  Member States should cooperate with the implementation of that plan, as it would have a practical impact on democratic institutions.  In closing, he reiterated his support for the bold actions of countries to strengthen their democratic institutions and his belief in the International Conferences on New or Restored Democracies as the best framework for discussion.


Voting Results


Liechtenstein ’s Election to the Seat Vacated by Germany


Ahead of the general elections for the Economic and Social Council, the Assembly President drew attention to a letter from Germany to the United Nations, announcing it would relinquish its seat for the Group of Western European and Other States at the end of 2007, in favour of Liechtenstein, which would hold the seat until 31 December 2008.  The Assembly then elected Liechtenstein a member of the Council.


Western European and Other States (1 seat)

 

Number of ballot papers:

180

Number of invalid ballots:

14

Number of valid ballots:

166

Abstentions:

14

Number of Members voting:

152

Required majority:

102


Number of votes obtained:


Liechtenstein

129

Sweden

8

Iceland

6

United Kingdom

5

Germany

3

Switzerland

1


Economic and Social Council Membership

 


African States (4 seats)

 


Number of ballot papers:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

188

Abstentions:

1

Number of Members voting:

187

Required majority:

125


Number of votes obtained:


Cameroon

183

Congo

183

Mozambique

184

Niger

183

Nigeria

2

Democratic Republic of the Congo

1

Somalia

1

Sudan

1


Asian States (4 seats)

 


Number of ballot papers:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

188

Abstentions:

0

Number of Members voting:

188

Required majority:

126


Number of votes obtained:


China

181

Malaysia

185

Pakistan

177

Republic of Korea

179

Qatar

1

Saudi Arabia

1

Laos People’s Democratic Republic

1


Eastern European States (3 seats)

 


Number of ballot papers:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

188

Abstentions:

3

Number of Members voting:

185

Required majority:

124


Number of votes obtained:


Moldova

184

Poland

176

Russian Federation

180

Albania

1

Belarus

1


Latin American and Caribbean States (3 seats)

 

Number of ballot papers:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

188

Abstentions:

2

Number of Members voting:

186

Required majority:

124


Number of votes obtained:


Brazil

182

Saint Lucia

181

Uruguay

181

Costa Rica

1

Mexico

1


Western European and Other States (4 seats)

 

Number of ballot papers:

188

Number of invalid ballots:

0

Number of valid ballots:

188

Abstentions:

5

Number of Members voting:

183

Required majority:

122


Number of votes obtained:


Iceland

178

New Zealand

174

Sweden

174

United Kingdom

174

Denmark

2


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For information media • not an official record