Commission on Human Rights- Sixtieth session
Item 11: civil and political rights

by Mr. Petru Dumitriu
Deputy Permanent Representative of Romania

Geneve - March 31, 2004 -

1. Promoting and consolidating democracy: a regional approach

Romania hosted from 14 to 15 November 2003, the Central and Eastern Europe "Community of Democracies" Regional Conference and NGO Forum on "Partnerships between governments, civil society and international organizations for strengthening democracy".

The participants emphasized the importance of transparency and accountability of public institutions in strengthening democracy. They acknowledged the responsibilities of the civil society and of the media in monitoring public institutions and the way the governments exercise their power. They agreed that effectiveness in formulating governmental policies and carrying out programs can be enhanced through engagement with civil society.

In Europe, the role of regional organizations in promoting democracy and human rights has been crucial. The governmental delegations presented the existing mechanisms of regional cooperation, based on the conviction that national experiences are relevant for the common vision on consolidation of democratic governance. Participants recognized the interconnection between democracy and the respect for all human rights.

The NGO Forum recognized that promoting democracy is possible only through a genuine cooperation between all societal actors. Best practices were shared, with particular focus on the impact of the civil society activities in promoting good governance and education for democracy.

2. Promoting and consolidating democracy in the context of the United Nations peace operations: a coherent approach

Recent experience proves the importance of democratic institution building in the mandates of UN peacemaking, peacekeeping and, in particular in post-conflict peace-building operations.

Peacekeeping has evolved from maintaining peace agreements to addressing a complex range of challenges in war-torn societies: preventing further armed conflicts, redressing human rights abuses, building effective public institutions, and fostering a healthy civil society.

Democratic governance is increasingly needed as a significant addition to any post-conflict agenda. Preventing conflict to re-emerge is not only a matter of preventing former combatants to use violence again, but also of establishing a lasting democratic system of authority.

Post-conflict governance should start with a strong commitment to democracy, even if authoritarian practices persist for a while. New regimes need to build on legitimacy and to pursue the general interest, not only that of the former belligerents.

While democratic governance appears to be crucial for reconciliation, reconstruction and development, there is a strong need to build democratic institutions that take due account of the local specificity of post-conflict societies.

The recent history of UN efforts to assist democratic reforms brings testimony of a long and relatively successful series of monitoring referendums and inaugural elections. This is a positive trend, which should be continued and expanded, while solving various conceptual differences that still persist. Conflicts per se unleash serious violations of human rights. Democracy undoubtedly provides an obviously better environment for their protection.

The Commission of Human Rights has to bring its own contribution to the promotion and consolidation of democracy by encouraging the involvement of regional and sub-regional organizations in supporting democratic processes and the inclusion of specific elements in the mandate of UN peace operations.

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