29 November 1999


29 November 1999

Press Release



Postpones Actions on ‘Code of Democratic Conduct’

The General Assembly this morning invited the Secretary-General, Member States, the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations to collaborate in the holding of the Fourth International Conference of New and Restored Democracies in Cotonou, Benin, in December 2000.

The Assembly, adopting without a vote a resolution on United Nations support for efforts to promote and consolidate new democracies, also invited active support for the follow-up process to the Third International Conference of New and Restored Democracies, which was held in Budapest, Hungary in September 1997, The assembly also welcomed the work carried out by the follow-up mechanism, which included representatives of governments, the United Nations and civil society. The Mechanism which met in 1998 and 1999, in July submitted a draft Code of Democratic conduct to the Assembly. Also, in June 1999, the President of Benin, Matheu Kerekou, established a national preparatory Committee for the planning and organization of the Fourth Conference. The theme of the Conference is "Democracy, Peace, Security and Development.

Introducing the text, as well as another on the Code of Democratic Conduct, Romania's representative said both drafts were aimed at consolidating democratic processes through the promotion of pluralism and, among others, the protection and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms. Adopting the Code of Democratic Conduct would promote efforts to build on a system-wide agenda for democratization, aimed at enhancing the Organization’s capacity to meet new challenges for democratization and good governance in preparation for the Millennium Assembly.

Addressing the United Nations' role in supporting new or restored democracies, India's representative said that monitoring human rights and providing electoral assistance only scratched the surface. What was required was assistance through a needs-based approach, that drew on recommendations from the Third International Conference. Governance was only one aspect in the consolidation of democracy. Resources were a crucial factor that could determine the difference between good governance that delivered, and governance that could not meet the needs of the people.

The representative of the United States said the Code of Democratic Conduct reaffirmed fundamental principles of freedom and human rights for all peoples. The vast majority of the Code's comprehensive definitions and standards would prove valuable to old and new democracies, as they addressed the challenges of democratization. If the Code helped prevent even one Member State from succumbing to the temptations of corruption, misuse of power on persecution of minorities, it would have served a very useful purpose.

The representative of the Philippines said the Fourth International Conference to be hosted by Benin was particularly meaningful, because it would be the first conference of the new and restored democracies to be held in Africa. However, threats to democratic institutions by international terrorists and organized crime were a great concern. Because of the peculiar and furtive nature of those threats, democratic institutions had had to undertake extraordinary measures to deal with them. Poverty and injustice and other basic social ills must also be resolved, to end the endless circle of terrorism and criminal violence.

Finland's representative, speaking on behalf of the European Union, said not all governments lived up to democratic standards. They, thus, failed to provide the freedom and conditions for everyone to participate fully in the political process. The new and restored democracies had a key role to play in bringing about such a common understanding of democracy. The consolidation of new and restored democracies must make democracy so stable, so deeply institutionalized and legitimate that all significant political actors, both in power and in opposition, fully embraced democratic procedures of governance.

The representative of Benin said democracy constituted a difficult and costly challenge, since it required a patient and arduous training. Periodic elections required financial resources that, very often, developing countries could not afford. The international community should, therefore, assist those countries. Addressing the conference to be held in Benin, he said it was supported by all the African States and it was would promote the democratic ideal on the continent and consolidate the democratic culture in the world.

Statements were also made this morning by the Foreign Minister of Mongolia and the representatives of Ukraine, Croatia, Norway, Yemen, Hungary, Uzbekistan, Niger, Nicaragua, Chile, Bangladesh, Argentina, Botswana and Belarus.

Also this morning, the Assembly decided to postpone action on the text on the Code of Democratic Conduct, as well as an amendment to that text, which was introduced by the representative of Algeria.

The Assembly will meet again at 3 p.m. to begin its consideration of the question of Palestine.

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For information media. Not an official record.