Commission on Human Rights- Sixtieth session
Round table: "Building common purpose among the UN's democracies"

by Mr. Petru Dumitriu
Deputy Permanent Representative of Romania

Geneve - March 29, 2004 -

Since 1999, Romania has submitted, to the United Nations General Assembly and to the Commission on Human Rights, a series of resolutions aiming at promoting and consolidating democracy, starting with a "Code of Democratic Conduct". In the process, the issue of legitimacy of such endeavours has come out, issue which may also be raised with respect with the joint actions of the "Community of democracies".

Building common purposes among the UN's democracies should be in fact building legitimacy for concerted action aiming at promoting the values they share.

Legitimacy building is necessary for a number of reasons:

1. Firstly, because legitimacy is not a static notion and should be continually fostered.

  • Legitimacy should be construed in a dynamic perspective, one that requires that action under UN auspices is dependent on the search of new political and intellectual resources.
  • As the notion of democracy is not literally provided in the UN Charter, we have to build legitimacy as to respond to the current challenges.
  • At present, despite of the ups and downs of the democratic processes all over the world, no one can convincingly challenge the legitimacy of action by UN member states in the name of democracy.

2. Secondly, because legitimacy of UN action in favour of democracy depends the United Nations system authority in general.

  • We recognize that the UN system has a meaningful role to play in handling questions and challenges of common interest and in continually building common values.
  • Its actions are as valid in the realm of maintaining peace and security, as they are in the protection of human rights, in the codification of international law that governs the bottom of the High Seas or the peaceful uses of outer space.
  • If we recognize its competence to deal with these issues, we may, consequently, assert its legitimacy, based on more consistent commitments to the values of democracy.

3. Thirdly, because legitimacy is needed for a more efficient contribution of the UN system to what we call global governance.

  • Global governance depends not only on the networks and the material expression of global connections, as the globalization's hardware, but also on the values disseminated, as the globalization's software.
  • Among them, the values of human rights and democracy, may be expected to help the UN to better achieve its objectives and serve its main beneficiaries: the peoples.

4. Fourthly, legitimacy is related to representation, defense and promotion of values and interests.

  • There is nothing to prevent Member States to associate and work together in any group and to use any criteria they chose.
  • There are so many respectable and influential groups that express themselves, suggest or take action within the United Nations: the Non-alignment movement, based on the original notion of non-appurtenance to any military block, the G77 based on the common and pressing need and to act together to overcome the scourge of underdevelopment, as well as other groups based on cultural affinities or simply like-minded.
  • Therefore, sharing a certain identifiable amount of democratic principles and practices is a fully legitimate catalyst of coherent joint action for better awareness and projection of shared values.
  • This does not mean creation of a select club, since its very reason of such a group would be promotion of democracy and inclusion of any countries that wish to join.

These are all good reasons for the UN democracies to engage into a conscientious kind of interaction, one stemming from the wish to advance democratic processes all over the world. New bridges can be built among countries in all continents. The best place to do that is the United Nations.

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