Dec 06, 2006

UNPO General Secretary Addresses Conference on “Democracy Promotion: The European Way”

Speech by UNPO General Secretary Marino Busdachin to:

“Democracy Promotion: The European Way

European Parliament, Brussels, Belgium

6 – 7 December 2006


Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Panelists,

I am glad to be here, and grateful to have the opportunity to address you during today’s important panel on behalf of the Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organization (UNPO). I would like to convey to you the salutations of the 63 Members of UNPO, who together represent over 200 million people around the world.

UNPO is a non-violent and democratic membership organisation. Its Members are indigenous peoples, occupied nations, minorities and independent states or territories who have joined together, to protect their human, political, and civil rights, to promote democracy and good governance, to preserve their environment, and to foster non-violent solutions to conflicts that frequently affect them.

UNPO Members are mostly voiceless, outcast, oppressed and denied the most elementary human rights; including the right to democracy.

Assuming that Democracy is not a question of trade, import-export, or a coercive measure, how can one be effective in promoting and fostering the right to democracy?

Considering that the democratic process is best conceived at home, and led from home, providing political and technical assistance, as well as dialogue, will per se build the practice of democracy. But what seems essential at the present time is the question of how to help remove the obstacles that impede and deny the achievement of democracy.

Programmes that will help build civil society, democratic leadership, democratic political parties, free media and accountable and transparent governance, can be set and applied almost anywhere. And these will make a difference.

UNPO believes that a viable proposal of establishing an independent European Democracy Foundation may have a major effect on the strategic role of Europe in promoting democracy, improving security, and economical development worldwide. Supporting any individual group or community in their struggle for democracy should become an evident and strong commitment of Europe and the European democracy assistance policy.

However, helping to introduce democracy from the outside could be a tricky business because the current world order is founded on the sovereignty of states, and states usually resist external intervention. Sovereignty is an anachronistic concept created in an era when the world was divided between rulers and subject, not citizens.

In a World heavily marked by interdependence, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama continuously remarks, solutions cannot be founded on the principle of sovereignty alone. Jean Monnet, the driving force behind the creation of the European Union, never ceased to remark that “when you have a problem you cannot solve, enlarge the context.”

This is exactly what happened in the process of rebuilding Europe after the World War II, now more than fifty years ago.

In the present world and in the current international context, deeply and heavily marked by interdependency between states or associations of states, the right to self-determination, as well as the principle of sovereignty and border sanctity, needs to be put under discussion, reconsidered, and differently evaluated. 

George Soros considers the European Union as the embodiment of the open society idea, or at least its prototype.

The European Union had and has a mission: the spread of peace, freedom, and democracy. In this way EU seems to be entitled to influence the direction that the US and other democracies take.

Leading the world trough the path of building a Community of Democracies could be more than a simple mission, it could help to reconstitute the international community that the world so urgently needs.

The question is: could the establishment of a kind of European Fund for Democracy trough partnership, be a driving force to lead Europe in this way?

The answer is unequivocally Yes. I believe that taking this direction will foster democracy around the world, even if only with a comma per day; but, - in the right direction.

This process, for one, would help the grass-roots organisations, minorities, unrepresented peoples and nations, indigenous peoples to be part of the official world; Giving them voice and expression; and help building partnership and alternative options of non-violent struggles for human rights, democracy and the rule of law. 

Later today I look forward to hearing from the representatives of several local democracy projects. They will attest, I am sure, to the value and necessity of this kind of support.

UNPO Members and many more unrepresented nations and peoples exist in the shadows and in the marginalized parts of the world. A World of rejected and oppressed nations peoples, and minorities, that have to fight; first, to claim their existence; second, for their concerns and problems.

In this dire scenario we hold great expectation and confidence in Members of the European Parliament in carrying out such a determinant action.

The project of strengthening the European policy in assisting and promoting democracy will certainly represent a milestone in paving the way for indigenous peoples, minorities, nations and hundreds of millions of individuals to have at least the right to become citizens. Citizens of this world.

The changes arising from the process of globalization and interdependence could make it possible, for the first time after centuries. The disappearance of the absolute division between international politics and national politics could lead the oppressed peoples and minorities to become part of the State’s foreign policies.

This is our challenge today, and will remain a challenge for a new world order and an International Community of Democracies tomorrow.