addresses Community of Democracies' opening plenary in Chile
DOS Washington File
April 29, 2005
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has called
for reform of the United Nations, recommending that nations
work through the United Nations Democracy Caucus to support
the creation of a "legitimate human rights body"
within the world organization.
"Serious action on human rights can only come from countries
that respect and protect human rights," Rice declared
April 28 at the opening plenary session of the Community of
Democracies meeting in Santiago, Chile. "We must let
all governments know that successful relations with our democratic
community depend on the dignified treatment of their people."
The secretary called on free nations to demand that leaders
who are elected democratically govern in the same manner,
and to insist that upholding democratic principles is "the
surest path to greater international status."
Freedom is "the universal longing of every soul,"
and democracy is the ideal path for every nation, she said,
and she urged all free nations to "clarify the moral
choice between liberty and oppression."
Rice also urged countries to participate in the U.N. Democracy
Fund to provide tangible support to emerging democracies and
to help nations that are undergoing democratic transitions.
She praised a proposal by Hungarian Foreign Minister Ferenc
Somogyi to create a Democratic Transition Center, calling
it "a terrific way ... for our community to share with
young democracies and democratic movements the important lessons
that we have learned from our own traditions and transitions."
Following is the text of Rice's remarks:
RICE: Thank you very much to the Chilean government, particularly
to President Lagos and to Foreign Minister Walker for hosting
this year's meeting of the Community of Democracies. I think
we have been all warmly welcomed here in Chile. I know that
I speak for all my distinguished colleagues when I say that
we are honored to gather here together in the name of democracy.
democracy in the world has shared the triumph of Chile's citizens
as they have renewed their commitment to democracy. Indeed,
we have all experienced the profound hope of people here throughout
Latin America who have transformed their continent through
their desire to live in liberty. Today, all the members of
the Community of Democracies declare our deep conviction that
freedom is the universal longing of every soul and democracy
is the ideal path for every nation.
year has brought forth a dramatic shift in the world's political
landscape. Since our last meeting in Seoul, we have seen free
elections in Afghanistan and in Iraq and in the Palestinian
territories. We have witnessed tremendous developments in
places like Georgia and Ukraine and Kyrgyzstan and Lebanon.
comes a time when the spark of freedom flashes in the minds
of all oppressed people, and they raise their voices against
tyranny. The Community of Democracies must match the bravery
of these men and women with the courage of our own convictions.
We on the right side of freedom’s divide have an obligation
to help those on the wrong side of that divide.
democratic aspirations, all free nations must clarify the
moral choice between liberty and oppression. We must let all
governments know that successful relations with our democratic
community depend on the dignified treatment of their people.
democratic principles, all free nations must demand that leaders
who are elected democratically have a responsibility to govern
democratically. Abandoning the rule of law for the whim of
rulers only leads to the oppression of innocent people.
our democratic consensus, all free nations must insist that
upholding democratic principles is the surest path to greater
international status. The Community of Democracies is one
of a growing number of international organizations that make
democracy an actual condition for membership. In the Western
Hemisphere, the Organization of American States has adopted
the Inter-American Democratic Charter. And here in the Southern
Cone, Mercosur is helping to bolster democracy. In Europe,
only democracies can belong to the European Community. And
democratic principles have always been the cornerstone of
character of states must become the cornerstone of a new,
principled multilateralism. The real division in our world
is between those states that are committed to freedom and
those who are not. International organizations like the Community
of Democracies can help to create a balance of power that
action that we can take together is to work through the United
Nations Democracy Caucus to support reform of the United Nations.
In particular, we should encourage the creation of a legitimate
human rights body within the United Nations. Serious action
on human rights can only come from countries that respect
and protect human rights.
community can cooperate in other ways at the United Nations.
The U.N. Democracy Fund, which President Bush proposed last
fall at the General Assembly, is an ideal way to provide tangible
support to emerging democracies. Financial assistance is essential
for all nations working to build firm foundations for freedom.
democracies must also help countries with their democratic
transitions. Every nation in this room has experienced a democratic
transition of its own, some quite recently. Hungarian Foreign
Minister Somogyi has proposed the creation of a Democratic
Transition Center. This is a terrific way, Minister, for our
community to share with young democracies and democratic movements
the important lessons that we have learned from our own traditions
is, after all, not an event; it is a process. It takes many
years, even decades, to realize the full promise of democratic
reform. For nearly a century after the founding of the United
States, millions of black Americans like me were still condemned
to the status below that of full citizenship. When the founding
fathers of America said, "we the people," they did
not mean me. Many of my ancestors were thought to be only
three-fifths of a man. And it is only within my lifetime that
the United States has begun to guarantee the right to vote
for all of our citizens. And so we know in the United States
that this is a long and difficult process. And every nation
in this room has experienced moments of tyranny in its history
-- some not too long ago.
our citizens share the common bond of having overcome tyranny
through all our commitment to freedom and democracy. Now,
it is our historic duty to tell the world that tyranny is
a crime of man, not a fact of nature. Our goal must always
be the elimination of tyranny in our world.
the Community of Democracies must use the power of our shared
ideals to accelerate democracy’s movement to ever more
places around the globe. We must usher in an era of democracy
that thinks of tyranny as we thought of slavery today: a moral
abomination that could not withstand the natural desire of
every human being for a life of liberty and of dignity.
our great purpose. Together we will succeed. Thank you.