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 You are in: Under Secretary for Democracy and Global Affairs > Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor > Releases > Fact Sheets
Fact Sheet
Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor
Washington, DC
October 22, 2002

Fact Sheet: Investing for Peace and Prosperity

Promoting Universal Democratic Values
The Community of Democracies is a unique gathering of nations from all over the world that share a commitment to building and strengthening democracy in their own countries, their respective regions and globally. Every region, level of development and historical experience are represented in the Community, demonstrating the universality of democratic principles and norms. While the path and pace of democratization and building democratic institutions will vary, core elements include respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, the rule of law, free and fair elections, a free media, and accountable, transparent governance.

The Community provides a singular forum through which established and emerging democracies can support and learn from each other, exchange best practices, and develop a shared identity based on common values and interests. Nations committed to human rights and democratic principles share fundamental values, including the inherent dignity of man and peaceful resolution of disputes. They offer the best hope for advancing sustainable development and a peaceful world and for eliminating the breeding grounds for terrorism.

Transparent, participatory and accountable systems of democratic governance are integral to free markets, and the surest path to enterprise, opportunity and prosperity. An educated public, endowed with democratic and human rights, is essential for development.

Warsaw Declaration
The Community of Democracies was launched at the Warsaw Ministerial conference in June 2000, where more than 100 countries pledged to uphold democratic principles outlined in the Warsaw Declaration. In Warsaw, governments pledged to support each other in reinforcing democratic principles and practices and to strengthen democratic institutions as the most representative and responsive to the will of the people.

The Community also agreed to step up international cooperation in key areas: strengthen support for democracy within international organizations, share best practices, respond to threats to democracy and improve coordination of democracy assistance.

Emphasizing the interdependence between peace, democracy, human rights and development, the Community noted the economic and social dimensions of democracy, including elimination of poverty and equal participation of women. It also called on governments to take steps to combat corruption, which corrodes democracy.

Seoul Ministerial
The second ministerial conference will be hosted by South Korea in Seoul, November 10-12. The theme is Democracy: Investing for Peace and Prosperity. It will focus on a plan of action through which countries can work together to consolidate democratic principles and institutions at home and through regional and international channels.

The Community of Democracies Convening Group acts as a steering group and coordinator for the ministerial meetings. The Convening Group includes the U.S., Chile, Mexico, South Korea, India, Czech Republic, Poland, Portugal, Mali and South Africa. 118 nations have been invited as participants and 21 others as observers. Secretary of State Colin Powell will head the U.S. delegation.

The U.S. and Poland will co-host one of four roundtables at Seoul, on consolidating democratic institutions. Other roundtables will address regional cooperation to promote democracy, the media and democracy, and coordinating international assistance.

The Seoul conference, as in Warsaw, will include a parallel meeting of non-governmental organizations and civil society representatives from many nations, democratic and undemocratic, who will explore ways to strengthen civil society throughout the world.

Organizations which have expressed a commitment to supporting human rights, the rule of law and democratic governance and which will participate in the Seoul ministerial include the Organization of American States, European Union, Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, Council of Europe and the African Union.

The U.S. is working closely with our partners from all regions to ensure that the Seoul Ministerial conference develops a practical results-oriented plan of action and broadens global understanding of democracy. When nations work together to foster democratic values and institutions, they enhance mutual cooperation, security and prosperity.

Advancing Democracy and Human Rights Worldwide
International and regional organizations are increasingly undertaking complementary actions to strengthen democracy. Core programs include civic education, democratic culture, rule of law, election monitoring, support for civil society, judicial reform, human rights monitoring and advocacy, accountability and transparency, and independent media.

  • In February 2001, the Community of Democracies and the Organization of American States hosted a conference on the role of regional and multilateral organizations in promoting and defending democracy.
  • In September 2001, the OAS adopted the Inter-American Democratic Charter, reinforcing political and legal instruments for defense of democracy in the region and laying out mandates and activities to strengthen democratic systems and culture in the Americas.
  • The UN Commission on Human Rights in 1999 endorsed the right to democracy and its basis in respect for human rights. The 2002 UNDP Human Development Report noted that deficits in democracy produce deficits in development.

For more information, please check the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor

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