Dr. Hannah Forster Delivers Address at United Nations Democracy Caucus Ministerial on Behalf of International Steering Committee of the Community of Democracies
October 1, 2007 | Printer Friendly
Dr. Hannah Forster, Chair of the African Democracy Forum and member of the International Steering Committee (ISC) of the Community of Democracies, gave the following address before a ministerial session of the United Nations Democracy Caucus:
STATEMENT ON BEHALF OF THE NON GOVERNMENTAL INTERNATIONAL STEERING COMMITTEE (ISC) OF THE COMMUNITY OF DEMOCRACIES
AT THE UNITED NATIONS DEMOCRACY CAUCUS MINISTERIAL
1ST OCTOBER 2007
Your Excellency, Mr. Chairperson ;
Your Excellencies, Ministers of Foreign Affairs,
Your Excellencies, Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corps;
Distinguished State Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen;
All protocols respectfully observed
I feel honoured to stand before this distinguished and august gathering of the global Community of Democracies, with the responsibility to give a statement on behalf of my colleagues of the International Steering Committee (ISC) of the Community of Democracies (CD) Non-Governmental Process, at this meeting of the United Nations Democracy Caucus Ministerial. This is the second time we have been afforded this opportunity. The ISC also had the privilege to present a statement last year to this meeting, a testimony of the long standing collaboration between governments and civil society in the Community.
On behalf of all the members of the ISC, and indeed on my own behalf, I wish to extend our gratitude to the Government of Mali and particularly to the Chairperson of the Convening Group for affording us this singular opportunity.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
Please allow me to also express our gratitude to the Government and people of the United States and particularly to our colleagues Richard Rowson, Morton Halperin and Bob LaGamma for their hospitality, in facilitating the activities of our meeting prior to this session and to reiterate our appreciation for the warmth afforded us during our stay in this country.
While extending our thanks to the Government and People of Mali for the openness and maturity with which they have engaged and integrated civil society into this process, we commend the work done by Dr. Oumar Makalou and his team.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
The International Steering Committee (ISC) of the Community of Democracies is a Panel of civil society organizations and advocates from around the world, which support democracy and human rights. It is a growing democracy network representing a broad spectrum of civil society organisations all over the world. It presently comprises 21 representatives and the group is coordinated by the Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD) based in Washington, DC. This group met here in New York from 25-26 September, 2007, to prepare recommendations for this session of the Community’s Ministerial Meeting, to review the preparations for Bamako and to synchronize civil society input into the process.
The ISC reiterates its full support to the Santiago Commitment to strengthen democratic governance as a prerequisite to the alleviation of poverty and to enhance economic growth and development and consequently congratulates the Community on the appropriateness of the theme for the forthcoming Bamako Meeting ‘The Bamako Consensus on Democracy, Development and Poverty Reduction’.
We are equally pleased to have been a part of the selection process for the Bamako Meeting drawing on and supporting the work of the International Advisory Committee.
True to its mandate, the ISC was able to conduct 6 roundtables in all the regions of the world, namely in Bamako, Taipei, New Delhi, Santiago, Brussels and Amman; to elicit input on the issues of democracy and development, which forms the basis of our proposals submitted for Bamako 2007. These reports are available to Your Excellencies.
We applaud the excellent relationship with the Community characterised by consultation and dialogue, which testifies the Malian Government’s commitment to ensure participation by all members of the Community.
It is worthy to observe an improvement in the respect for human rights, good governance and the rule of law around the world. In its wake, we have also seen the adoption, ratification and implementation of instruments; decisions and mechanisms to match this growing tide.
We have equally witnessed the Community of Democracies “take up multifaceted challenges that confront our world and peoples in the light of the social, economic and political changes taking place in the world”; further strengthening the global framework to promote and protect human and rights and democracy. The United Nations Development Fund (UNDEF) Initiative and the Democracy Bridge are excellent examples of this engagement. Likewise, we have witnessed the pursuit of human rights become an integral responsibility of this celebrated Group. The increased involvement of civil society organisations in these processes are laudable and have gone a long way to enhance partnerships and promote ownership of the CD process by a very large proportion of our various constituencies.
While applauding these developments, the ISC asserted that the world continues to face serious human rights and democratic challenges characterised by conflict, insecurity and violence. Poverty, disease, internal political strife continues to bring untold hardships to the majority of citizens of the affected countries, particularly to women and children. The current situation in Burma and the Government’s decision to attack peaceful and democratic protestors is a cause for grave concern. We urge the Community of Democracies nations to work together in all UN organisations and regional bodies to ensure a swift resolution to the crisis. The ISC is conscious that the Rwanda genocide remains a constant reminder on the extent to which unrestrained lawlessness and lack of commitment to early warning can lead to unwarranted loss of life, property and above all dignity.
Furthermore, Darfur continues to be a cause for concern despite the recent signing of peace agreements, instances of serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in varying degrees were cited. The Community is indeed urged to work on this disturbing phenomenon.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
There is no doubt, that the violations in some countries already indicate warning signs of deterioration in the system. We wish to urge the distinguished Caucus to propose concrete steps to ensure the resolution of these aforementioned conflicts.
Similarly, the human rights situation in countries like Zimbabwe has not ceased to attract the attention of the international community. The ISC wishes to encourage the Government of Zimbabwe to implement the recommendations contained in the African Commission’s fact-finding report to Zimbabwe as well as the recommendations of the United Nations Special Envoy on Human Settlement Issues pertaining to the provision of aid and protection to the victims of the forced evictions and demolitions.
The ISC recognised and applauded all the work done so far by the African Union towards the development and adoption of the African Democracy Charter and hope it will be a useful tool in the promotion and protection of democracy on the continent. To this end, the African Democracy Form has established a coalition, among its members to advocate and promote its ratification by African Member States. It is hoped that other regions would emulate such an example.
Similarly, to ensure the organisation of free and fair elections, the international community is urged to support civil society participation in these endeavours.
The importance of human rights and democracy education was also underscored.
Your Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
On behalf of the participants, please allow me to reiterate the readiness of the ISC to work with the Community in the realization of their mandates. As partners in the process, we are committed to putting all our expertise and resources at the disposal of this and other Caucuses in the realization of our common objectives.
In the true spirit of partnership for common vision of a united and strong global community, energised by partnership between governments and all segments of civil society’, Members of the ISC reaffirmed their commitment to the reinforcement of this partnership with the United Nations and all its organs. Our passion is to witness much more change in the landscape and we are confident that collectively this objective can be achieved.
We would wish to urge Community of Democracies to act in concert and jealously guard against issues such as membership of UN bodies, particularly in the Human Rights Council and Security Council that could have a negative effect on the progress they have made thus far. Vietnam and Libya were raised as deserving attention under such circumstances.
A copy of the full report of our meeting will be forwarded for the kind consideration of your august body, as our contribution to your deliberations at this Session.
Your Excellency, Mr. Chairperson,
To conclude, please allow me to extend our appreciation to Poland for its efforts to establish the Permanent Secretariat for the Community of Democracies.
On behalf of the ISC, allow me to wish the Republic of Mali and particularly the Chairperson of the Convening Group, His Excellency, Ambassador Diop, and all the members of this distinguished assembly a fruitful deliberation and a successful session.
We look forward to participating fully in the Ministerial meeting in Bamako come November 2007