Newsletter February 2003



The Community of Democracies - Moving On!


“We, the world’s democracies–young and old, developed and developing–stand together on the frontlines of freedom. Our growing Community of Democracies truly represents the world’s greatest hope.”  -- Secretary of State Colin Powell to the Seoul Conference, 11 November 2002.  

From close time proximity, recent progress for both the Community of Democracies (CoD) and AUD’s project, the NGO Coalition for the Community of Democracies (NCCD) seems to have been maddeningly slow ! But from a perspective taking in the thousands of years mankind has been striving towards freedom, universal peace and self-governance, progress has at least lumbered solidly along this year.  


One should not expect too much of these tiny infants with the enormous potential.  That, indeed, could destroy them.  The CoD, founded in Warsaw, Poland in June 2000 and the NCCD, initiated in D.C. in 2001 are just barely beginning to get their feet under them.  


Chairman Tom Hudgens and I reported on the CoD and NCCD at the Denver joint meeting of AUD, WFA and the UNA in October. There, we clarified that increasing and improving democracy through the CoD would lead to an effective democratic association of nations and then a union of democracies and then a sustained worldwide peace with freedom and ever-increasing justice.


The greatest progress for the CoD in 2002 may have been the 180 degree turnabout in the U.S. stance. Early in the year, State told Captain Tom that the CoD was a very low priority for this administration.  Yet shortly beforehand, State announced that Secretary of State Colin Powell, himself, would lead a delegation to the Seoul conference.


At the last minute, Powell was called to the UN for the Iraq debate, yet it is an enormous gain to have the U.S. involved again.   Both Secretary Powell and Under Secretary Paula Dobriansky, who delivered his speech at the Seoul conference,  are powerful advocates of the Community of Democracies.


In his speech Powell cited one of the most powerful functions of this new organization: “. . .democratic nations coming together as a community and working to help threatened or faltering democracies” . . . Dobriansky, in her report following the conference stressed the importance of the involvement of non-governmental organizations: “What is most exciting and innovative about this  [Seoul Action Plan] is that it extends beyond the actions of governments alone.” She goes on, “This public-private partnership unites resources and ideas from a wide array of actors to make democratic institutions stronger, more effective, and more responsive.”  


She also hailed the strategic importance of regional organizations that emerged and/or became stronger as a result of the first meeting in Warsaw: “Influenced by the achievements in Warsaw, we have witnessed in the last two years the significant emergence of regional organizations that are ready to take on the mantle of assisting and supporting democratization . . . [for example]. This new [OAS] Charter declares that the peoples of the Americas not only have a right to democracy, but also obliges their governments to promote and defend democracy . . . . It will be followed by other regional initiatives launched in Seoul uniting nations in support of democratic ideals.”


WFA staffer Heather Hamilton, whose trip to Seoul was financed by AUD, feels that several ideas presented by George Soros have potential to accelerate the progress of the CoD. These include a permanent secretariat, limiting development assistance (except humanitarian aid) to non-democratic regimes, and creation of a democracy caucus in the UN General Assembly.  Immediately pertinent to AUD, is her emphasis on NGO’s convening a series of strategy sessions “to change the dynamic of the process” in order to strengthen the effectiveness of the Community before the next meeting in Chile. What can NGOs accomplish? Raising awareness of the CoD by writing letters to the media and to congressional representatives and recruiting new NGO-member organizations for the Coalition are important first steps Jackson Diehl reported in the Washington Post (November 18, 2002): “Last week the Bush administration participated in a major international conference on democracy, successfully pushing for the adoption of an ‘action plan’ that commits 110 governments to preserve political freedom in their own countries and spread it to their neighbors.  But you wouldn’t know it.  Outside of Seoul, where it was held, the Community of Democracies ministerial meeting received almost no attention.”


In sum, Powell, Dobriansky, Hamilton and Diehl (see for complete texts) summon NGO members (including you and me) to a public-private partnership in order to propel the CoD’s glorious potential into reality. 


Three ways we can:  1. Convene concerned NGO’s into an active coalition.  2. Write to alert the media and public worldwide to become supportive.  3. Write congressional representatives to urge formation of a Democracies Caucus in the General Assembly.  (Please see page 8 for sample letter.)


- Menko Rose and Helen Rose