Expert seminar on the interdependence between democracy and human rights

Remarks by Mr. Petru Dumitriu
Deputy Permanent Representative of Romania

Geneve - 25 November 2002 -

We believe that there is still a great potential to be explored with a view to enhancing the profile of the United Nations in promoting democracy. As a matter of fact, a clear assumption of a specific role by the UN is historically very recent. Actually, it started in 1994, when a consensus General Assembly resolution indicated the UN should support new or restored democracies.

  • Encouraging normative framework should be indeed a priority - to start, compilations of existing codes, guidelines, various good practices and experiences, lessons learned in the field can be very useful; these compilation might become valuable source of norms already tested in the confrontation with the reality;

  • Adding arguments in favour of the universal relevance of democratic values and principles is very important, in a similar manner as the universality of human rights is supported; as we stated before, the myth of the UN neutrality with respect to qualifying the nature of political regimes has expired;

  • Working for better coherence in the UN systems as to make sure that all activities which catalyse democratisation processes in a way or another are meant to contribute to the promotion of goals of perennial rather than circumstantial value for the beneficiary countries; A way to generalize interest to promote democracy is indeed to include in the mission statements or terms of reference of various UN bodies, treaty bodies, special procedures of human rights, objectives related to observing institutions of democracy and assist countries in making them working better;

  • There is also the interaction between the UN Secretary General and regional organizations ; The UN should take a more proactive position in promoting universal respect for democratic values, without challenging cultural values and specificities, but also by making sure that diversity and local specificity does not serve as pretext for the absence of genuine democracy; in this respect, it is very encouraging that important initiatives as NEPAD, or new organizations as the African Union, contain in their constitutional language commitments for the promotion of democracy;

  • Finally, the UN has to include more of democratisation oriented action in its peace-making, peacekeeping and post-conflict peace building, as to provide more sustainability to the objectives pursued in the fragile conflict torn societies. That is the best promise of peace since it can move the struggle for power from the battlefields to the voting booths.

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