Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
November 25, 2008
The Democracy Caucus
Democratic nations share a common commitment to promote human rights and fundamental freedoms. In September 2004, Community of Democracies (CD) member countries joined together at the United Nations to form the UN Democracy Caucus with the stated goal to build support for a democratic agenda at the UN. The United States believes that democratic nations must work more closely together in order to help the United Nations live up to its founding principles. Through the formation of a Democracy Caucus at the United Nations -- a network of democratic nations working together -- the U.S. can advance the work of the UN in areas such as human rights, good governance, and the rule of law. The Democracy Caucus is not intended to supplant longstanding regional or other groupings, but rather to provide an added mechanism for like-minded democratic nations to cooperate on resolutions and initiatives.
The Caucus operates under the leadership of the country chairing the CD Convening Group, currently Portugal. The Democracy Caucus has come together to support various initiatives, including the following:
- UN Human Right Council (UNHRC): The Democracy Caucus has spoken out in favor of reform of the UN Commission on Human Rights and in favor of candidates for election to the new UN Human Rights Council that have demonstrated a genuine commitment to human rights.
- May 20, 2008 statement before the third UNHRC elections
- May 15, 2007 statement before the second UNHRC elections
- May 5, 2006 statement before the first UNHRC elections
- November 17, 2005 statement on reform of the UN Commission on Human Rights
- Civil Society: On March 12, 2007, the Convening Group of the CD made a statement on behalf of the Democracy Caucus to the UNHRC recognizing the important role of civil society and NGOs in promoting democratic principles and respect for human rights.
- Coordinated Action at the UN General Assembly (UNGA): UN resolutions must better reflect internationally accepted human rights standards and democratic principles. A Democracy Caucus can collaborate to address grave human rights situations through drafting, introducing, and supporting resolutions in UN fora. Working together, democracies can help advance rule of law norms internationally and can better promote improved human rights standards. For example in 2004, the Democracy Caucus agreed to recommend that member states give positive consideration to four draft resolutions submitted to the UNGA. The resolutions dealt with torture, cooperation among religions, the role of regional and sub-regional organizations in democracy promotion, and the status of women in the UN system.