December 6, 2006

Democracy Promotion: The European Way

Leading European Parliamentarians Mr. Pannella, Mr. Cappato, Ms. Neyts-Uytterbroeck from the ALDE Group, in partnership with UNPO, the Transnational Radical Party and No Peace Without Justice, recently organized a conference on “Democracy Promotion: The European Way”, held in Brussels at the European Parliament. Pictured are UNPO GS Mr. Busdachin and Emma Bonino, Italian Minister for International Trade and European Affairs.

In response to increasing concerns about the viability of present means of democracy promotion, leading Members of the European Parliament Marco Pannella MEP, Marco Cappato MEP, and Annemie Neyts-Uytterbroeck MEP, from the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe (ALDE), and in partnership with UNPO, the Transnational Radical Party and No Peace Without Justice, have organised a conference on “Democracy Promotion: The European Way” held at the European Parliament in Brussels, Belgium from 6 - 7 December 2006.

The Conference aims to contribute to the process of Europe articulating and funding a new and distinctive strategy for the promotion of democracy, centred explicitly on the principle of non-violence, and sensitive always to the importance of promoting democracy locally, through the support and promotion of grass-roots organisations, instead of attempting to impose it from afar.

The Conference was Chaired and addressed by a number of leading Members of the European Parliament, as well as representatives from the European Commission, including: Edward Mc-Millan Scott MEP, Vice-President of the European Parliament, Graham Watson MEP, Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe, Marco Pannella MEP, Leader of the Transnational Radical Party, Alessandro Battilocchio MEP, Annemie Neyts MEP, Leader of the ELDR Party, Hélène Flautre MEP, Chairperson of the Sub-Committee on Human Rights, Marco Cappato MEP, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, EU Commissioner for External Relations, and Emma Bonino, Minister of Italy for International Trade and European Affairs.

Read the Speech of Mr. Graham Watson MEP
Read the Speech of Ms. Benita Ferrero-Waldner

As leading policy makers in the field of democratisation, all noted the numerous benefits of promoting democracy world-wide, not least with respect to security and the promotion of Human Rights, but also acknowledged the complexity and uncertainty that always accompanies this process. This underlined the necessity of reflecting upon the most effective strategies available to policy makers, as well as the importance of learning from the valuable experiences and knowledge of grass-roots practitioners in the field of democratisation.

As a first step of this learning process, and under the banner of “urgent messages to Europe from the World’s dissidents”, a number UNPO Members, as well as other prominent activists and practitioners in the field of democratisation, shared their views and experiences on the process of democratisation.

From the Ogoni, the President of the UNPO General Assembly Mr. Ledum Mitee stressed the importance of focusing not only on elections when promoting democracy, but also of supporting and strengthening the institutions and values that uphold and constitute a genuine democracy during the time in between elections. From Taiwan, Dr. Parris Chang, Honorary President of UNPO, and Dr. Wen-Cheng Lin, both emphasised the need to support emerging and practicing democracies whilst they remain fragile, both from internal and external threats, and drew attention to the work UNPO is conducting in this respect. From the Ahwazi, Dr. Karim Abdian spoke with great passion about the situation faced by minorities in Iran, as well as elsewhere in the world, and urged members of the parliament to inform themselves of the ethnic and political situation within countries such as Iran, so as enable better identification and support of emerging non-violent democratic forces. From East Turkestan, Mr. Dolkun Isa and Enver Chan also echoed views about the valuable role NGOs and grass-roots organisations play in the promotion of democracy, and highlighted the successes they have had in particular with respect to putting pressure on Chinese authorities to reform. Their calls and proposals were also echoed by other UNPO Member representatives from the Khmer-Krom, Mr. Thach Thach, Mr. Giap Tran, and Mr. Thach Vien, the Iraqi Turkmen, Dr. Sheth Jerjism, the Montegnards, Mr. Kok Ksor, Somaliland, Mr. Mohammoud Daar, and Chechnya, Dr. Umar Khanbiev.

Read the Full Statement of UNPO President Mr. Ledum Mitee

Read the Full Statement of Mr. Mohamoud Abdi Daar, Representative of Somaliland

UNPO Members were joined also by representatives from other groups working to promote democracy: Marco Perduca, Executive Director of the International Antiprohibitionist League, Osvaldo Alfonso, Former President of the Liberal Democratic Party of Cuba, Evgheny Zhovtis, Director of the International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law, Walid Salem, Palestinian Centre for the Dissemination of Democracy and Community Development, Vanida Tephsouvanh, Lao Movement for Human Rights, Vo Van Ai, President of Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam, Carl Gershman, Director of the National Endowment for Democracy, Roel Van Meijenfeld, Director of the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy, Scott Carpenter, U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights and Labour, and Wei Jingsheng, Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition and 1996 Sakharov Prize Laureate.

In his address to the Conference, UNPO General Secretary Marino Busdachin joined UNPO Members and the MEPs present in expressing UNPO’s strong support for this initiative, emphasising that it marks a positive first step in the crucial process of reflecting upon and developing a new policy for democracy promotion, in particular with respect to recognising and incorporating the contributions of NGOs and grass-roots organisations, such as those represented at UNPO.

Read the full address of UNPO General Secretary Marino Busdachin here.

Following two days of debate and discussion, the conclusions of the Conference were summarised in a document circulated to all participants. These recommendations, based substantially on the views and experiences of the grass-roots practitioners who attended, will undoubtedly play a valuable role in the ongoing process of articulating a viable European strategy for the promotion of democracy.

Read the Conclusions


Democracy Promotion: The European Way
Urgent Messages to Europe from the World's Dissidents

Programme of Proceedings

Opening remarks:
Annemie Neyts MEP (President of the ELDR Party)

Democracy Promotion: Actions "On The Ground"

Introduction and Chair by:
Hélène Flautre MEP (Chairwoman of the Subcommittee on Human Rights)
Marco Cappato MEP (Vicechair of the Mashreq Delegation)

Speakers
Michael Kau (Senior adviser, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy)
Marino Busdachin (UNPO Secretary General)
Kok Ksor (Transnational Radical Party and Montagnard Leader Vietnam)
Enver Can (Former President of the East Turkestan National Congress China)
Vanida Tephsouvanh (Lao Movement for Human Rights)
Erion Veliaj (MJAFT! Movement Albania)
Bakhtiar Amin (Foundation for the Future Iraq)
Osvaldo Alfonso (Former President of the Liberal Democratic Party of Cuba),
Evgheny Zhovtis (Director International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law Kazakhstan)
Walid Salem (Palestinian Center for the Dissemination of Democracy & Community Development)
Pierre Akel (Director Middle East Trasparent website) 

Democracy Promotion: Initiatives For Institutional Reform Inside And Outside The European Union

Introduction and Chair by:
Edward Mc-Millan Scott MEP (VicePresident of the European Parliament)
Marco Pannella MEP (Leader of the Transnational Radical Party)

Speakers
Benita Ferrero-Waldner (EU Commissioner for External Relations)
Graham Watson MEP (Leader of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe)
Natan Sharansky (Former Soviet Dissident, Member of the Knesset)
Carl Gershman (Director, National Endowment for Democracy)
Roel Van Meijenfeld (Director, Nederland Institute Multiparty Democracy)
Parris Chang (Former Vice-President of Taiwan National Security Council)
Emanuele Ottolenghi (Director, Transatlantic Institute)
Alessandro Battilocchio MEP (Development Committee Rapporteur on EIDHR)
Vo Van Ai (President of Quê Me: Action for Democracy in Vietnam)
Samer Abu Libdeh (Senior Fellow Centre for Liberty in the Middle East)
Riad Malki (General Director Palestinian Center for the Dissemination of Democracy & Community Development)
Mohsen Marzouk (Founder and Coordinator Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center; Director Regional Civil Society Program North Africa Freedom House)
Wei Jingsheng (Overseas Chinese Democracy Coalition; 1996 Sakharov Prize Laureate)

To know more on UNPO’s partners to the conference “Democracy Promotion: The European Way” please visit the following links to their official website:

Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe:
Conference Report

Transnational Radical Party: http://www.radicalparty.org/welcome2.html