Community of Democracies
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The Community of Democracies (CoD) is an intergovernmental coalition of states established in 2000. Its aim is to bring together governments, civil society and the private sector in the pursuit of the common goal of supporting democratic rules, expand political participation, advance and protect democratic freedoms, and strengthening democratic norms and institutions around the world. The task of more democracy is outlined in the Warsaw Declaration. It is disputed if the CoD qualifies as an International Organization in the legal sense.
Community of Democracies
Member states of the CoD
|Type||Intergovernmental Coalition of States|
|Members of the Governing Council||29 Members|
|Executive Committee (EC)|
|Thomas E. Garrett|
The CD was inaugurated at its first biennial ministerial conference hosted by the government of Poland in Warsaw on June 25th to June 27th, 2000. The initiative was spearheaded by Polish Foreign Minister Bronisław Geremek and U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, along with six co-conveners: the governments of Chile, the Czech Republic, India, Mali, Portugal and the Republic of Korea. 106 nations signed the declaration.
At the close of the conference the participating governments signed onto the Warsaw Declaration, agreeing “to respect and uphold core democratic principles and practices” including, among others, free and fair elections, freedom of speech and expression, equal access to education, rule of law, and freedom of peaceful assembly .
In closing remarks to the ministerial conference in Warsaw, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan praised the Community of Democracies as a positive development toward global democracy, saying. “When the United Nations can truly call itself a community of democracies, the Charter's noble ideals of protecting human rights and promoting "social progress in larger freedoms" will have been brought much closer."
The CD works on the base of the Warsaw Declaration. Since 2018, their work is more specifically guided by the Community’s Strategic Plan for 2018-2023 which identified the following strategic objectives:
- Encouraging Adherence to the Warsaw Declaration
- Support for Democratic Consolidation in Transitioning Countries
- Deepening the Dialogue on the Challenges to Democracy
Their internal structure include regular Ministerial Conferences, a Governing Council, a Chairmanship, a Permanent Secretariat headed by the Secretary General, six Working Groups as well as two Affiliated Bodies.
The Governing Council consists of all 29 members of the CoD. It meets four times a year. Currently, it includes Argentina, Cabo Verde, Canada, Chile, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Estonia, Finland, Guatemala, Hungary, India, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Mali, Mexico, Mongolia, Morocco, Norway, Nigeria, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sweden, United States of America, Uruguay, and the United Kingdom.
Since the founding of the CoD, the chairmanship (or Presidency) of the CoD has been rotating. Ministerial Conferences were held towards the end of each presidency term in the capital of the presiding state, resulting in the adoption of a common declaration / plan of action towards the following activities of the Community: Seoul 2002 (South Korea), Santiago 2005 (Chile), Bamako 2007 (Mali), Lisbon 2009 (Portugal), Vilnius 2011 (Lithuania), Ulaanbaatar 2013 (Mongolia) and Washington D.C. 2017 (United States of America).
Following the presidency of the United States of America, the Community adopted a collective lead by the so-called Executive Committee (EC) currently comprising Chile, Norway, Poland, Republic of Korea, Romania, Sweden and the UK. Each one of these states will held the chair for a period of six months. Norway (15 Sept. 2017- 15 Mar. 2017), Chile (15 Mar.- 15 Sept. 2018), and the UK (15 Sept. 2018 - 15 Mar. 2019) preceded the current chair of Poland (15 Mar. 2019 - 15 Sept. 2019) .
Since 2009, a Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies operates in Warsaw, providing technical, logistical, organizational and administrative support to all the bodies of the Community. The current head of the Permanent Secretariat and therefor Secretary General of the CoD is Thomas E. Garrett, appointed September 1st, 2017.
Working Groups (WG) are action-oriented structures that drive the implementation of the strategic objectives of the Community of Democracies. WGs are composed of states, civil society representatives, and other democracy stakeholders. WG mandates are approved by the Governing Council, and they supported and coordinated by the Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies. Currently, there are six Working Groups:
- Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society
- Working Group on Promoting Freedom of Opinion and Expression
- Working Group on Women and Democracy
- Working Group on Education for Democracy
- Working Group on Elections
- Working Group on CoD Governance and Effectiveness
The CoD consults two external bodies on a regular basis.
Academic Advisory Board (AAB)Edit
The Academic Advisory Board assists the work of the CoD by providing an academic perspective.
Civil Society PillarEdit
The Civil Society Pillar (also Civil Society Assembly) refers to the non-governmental process of the CoD, including civil society organizations, foundations, and experts devoted to promoting democracy. It is represented by the non-governmental "International Steering Committee" (ISC), which is composed of 26 leaders of civil society organizations from all regions of the world, the Chair and Vice-Chair and the organization which serves as the ISC’s secretariat. In April 2018, Fundacion Multitudes was elected as the first Permanent Secretariat of the CSP and Paulina Ibarra as Chair of the ISC. The ISC advises governments on the actions needed to enable civil society to work freely to strengthen democracy, rule of law, and protection for the fundamental rights enshrined in the Warsaw Declaration. The ISC coordinates a variety of initiatives for civil society, including the civil society forum taking place in the biannual Ministerial Conferences of the Community, which results in a set of recommendations to the Ministerial Declaration made by civil society representatives.
Myanmar Constitutional Democracy ProjectEdit
In 2018, the CoD finalised the Phase III of the Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project, implemented cooperation with Australia-Myanmar Constitutional Democracy Project, that aimed to facilitate an inclusive constitutional framework, through embracing all stakeholders within society and providing them with the necessary legal tools and language to engage in the process of drafting and amending it. In 2018, the CoD published a Building a Democratic Constitutional Culture in Myanmar booklet, which contains a summary of fundamental principles and concepts of constitutional democracy with a particular focus on those most relevant to the situation in Myanmar. Together with the two constitutional democracy workshops, held in Myanmar in February 2018, the booklet constitutes an effort to increase the capacity of key stakeholders to participate in the process of democratic reforms in Myanmar, extend their knowledge on constitutional matters, as well as to contribute to the development and support of a culture of constitutionalism in Myanmar.
Advancing Women's Political ParticipationEdit
To support women’s participation in politics, the Community of Democracies implemented “Advancing Women’s Political Participation” project, implemented in cooperation with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International IDEA. As part of the project, five regional consultations were held on the margins of large international democracy-related events in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America. Consultation brought together politicians, state officials, civil society activists, academics, and members of international and regional organizations to discuss gender equality and strategies for advancing women’s political empowerment in the MENA region. The project's five regional reports and final report contain specific policy recommendations on the advancement of women's political participation in each region.
- "A/70/142 - E - A/70/142". undocs.org. Retrieved 2019-03-20.
- “Warsaw Declaration: Toward a Community of Democracies”, Toward a Community of Democracies Ministerial Conference, Warsaw, Poland, 2000-06-27.
- Annan, Kofi (2000-06-27). UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's Closing Remarks to the Ministerial (PDF) (Speech). Warsaw, Poland. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2007-05-16.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
- "Strategic Plan 2018-2023" (PDF).
- "Governing Council – CoD". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
- "Ministerial Conferences".
- "Permanent Secretariat – CoD". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
- "Working Groups – CoD". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
- "Academic Advisory Board – CoD". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
- "Civil Society Pillar – CoD". Retrieved 2019-03-13.
- "Booklet on Constitutional Democracy" (PDF).
- "Regional Organizations, Gender Equality and the Political Empowerment of Women – CoD". Retrieved 2019-03-13.