BY H.E. MR. BAATAR CHOISUREN,
AMBASSADOR, PERMANENT REPRESENTATIVE OF MONGOLIA
TO THE UNITED NATIONS
60th session of the General Assembly on agenda item 10 “Support by the United Nations system of the efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies”
15 December 2005, New York
Mr. President,It is a great privilege and distinct honor for me to speak here representing the host country of the Fifth International Conference of New or Restored Democracies (ICNRD) held in Ulaanbaatar in 2003 and current ICNRD Chair.
A global momentum towards democratization that has been generated in the course of the last three decades when many States, including my own, embarked upon a process of democratization and many others moved to restore their democratic roots, is truly remarkable in its scope and strength - democracy today is firmly established as a universal value and was most recently reaffirmed as such by the world leaders in the Outcome Document of the last World Summit. The now global movement of new or restored democracies was a product of this “third wave of democratization”. In its turn, since its inception 17 years ago the movement has played a prominent role in further promoting the process of democratization that swept over the world. The conferences of new or restored democracies have served as a source of inspiration for many fledgling democracies in their struggle to build modern and functioning democratic societies built upon the principles of pluralism, respect for human rights, freedom of the press, and democratic governance. These conferences adopted important declarations and plans of action and facilitated in the exchange of views, experiences and lessons-learnt among a wide array of new, restored and mature democracies.
Declarations and plans, though important, are not enough - they must be followed by concrete actions or borrowing the words of the Secretary-General in his report “In larger freedom” - “commitments must be matched by performance”. My country, Mongolia, with assistance from the UN Development Programme, has therefore initiated for the first time in the history of ICNRD a pioneering experience of implementing practical follow-up activities to the outcome documents of the Conference and catalyzing a process of national adaptation and development of the international democracy agenda. Information on the innovations that Mongolia is piloting within the framework of the ICNRD-5 follow-up is contained in the Secretary-General’s report under this agenda item contained in document A/60/556. Allow me, nevertheless, to briefly touch upon some of them.
The Government of Mongolia has launched a pilot program aimed at (1) formulation of a national plan of action to consolidate democracy, (2) development of nationally-owned democratic governance indicators and the preparation of a Country Information Note for Mongolia to measure its democratic performance, thus establishing the baselines for and benchmarking the democratic process in the country. This program will facilitate the design and piloting of methodologies which other new or restored democracies can use for the preparation of their national action plans, country information notes and democracy indicators’ databases as agreed under the Ulaanbaatar Plan of Action. In the context of developing democratic governance indicators and the national plan of action, Mongolia held its first-ever national state of democracy Conference in June this year that brought together government and civil society in an all-inclusive discussion of the quality of democracy in the country, its opportunities and challenges, and the democratic solutions to crucial developmental issues Mongolia is now facing. Regional dialogues and consultations are now being planned to share Mongolia’s follow-up experiences with other new or restored democracies. Let me underline the importance of the growing need to assess the progress in democratization. Improving the quality of democracy has become a political demand in both new or restored and mature democracies. Today, a general commitment to the norms of democracy is no longer enough. The development of democracy assessment methodologies and various governance indicator exercises serve the idea of a systematic assessment of a country’s political life by the people in new or restored and mature democracies in order to answer the question: how democratic is it in practice? How far have we progressed and what needs to be done to strengthen democracy in the future? So far, it is only in the ICNRD-5 outcome documents that the governments of new or restored democracies along with their counterparts from mature democracies have expressed their willingness to develop nationally-owned democratic governance indicators’ (DGIs) databases to be better able to monitor their progress in democratic and social development over time. The development of DGIs in Mongolia will be the first attempt to produce a democracy assessment under the aegis of a governmental institution - the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in our case. Democracy is not an abstract value, it has a direct impact on everyday lives of people. As our leaders stressed in the Outcome Document “democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing”, therefore, the socio-economic dimension of democratization must be fully taken into account lest we put to risk the very credibility of this process. Accordingly, the DGIs in Mongolia will be specifically tailored to the requirements of Mongolian policymakers and responsive to priorities for reforms on the policy agenda, from the point of view of people, especially the poor and other disadvantaged groups.
My delegation expresses its gratitude to the Secretary-General for his observation that “significant progress” has been made by Mongolia in ensuring a more effective follow-up to the recommendations adopted at the Fifth International Conference. I would like to especially note the group of Friends of the Chair that was established during the Fifth ICNRD with the purpose of assisting the Chair in the run-up to the next ICNRD, as an important innovation in this respect. We also agree with the Secretary-General on the necessity to further discuss the strengthening and broadening in scope and substance of the implementation process of the decisions taken at each Conference.
The Secretary-General in his report “Support by the United Nations system of the efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies” also touched upon the coordination between the International Conference of New or Restored Democracies and other global and regional intergovernmental democracy movements or organizations, including the Community of Democracies (CD). Indeed, mutually supportive language has been adopted by both the ICNRD with its all-inclusive composition and CD with its more limited approach to membership. The Ulaanbaatar Declaration of the ICNRD-5 encouraged “the two fora to work closely together in the pursuit of the common goal of developing and deepening democracy throughout the world”, and the CD at its Third Ministerial Meeting held earlier this year in Santiago took a commitment to “encourage cooperation with the ICNRD as an intergovernmental forum to promote and consolidate democratic governance in emerging and new democracies”.
Mongolia in its capacity as ICNRD Chair, participating state of the Community of Democracies (CD), and now a member of the Convening Group (CG) of the CD, has been proactive in its efforts to bring the two global intergovernmental movements aimed at democracy promotion and consolidation closer together. For example, Mongolia as ICNRD Chair participated earlier this year in the CD-led delegation to Georgia to share democratic experiences. Moreover, my delegation has recently developed a Non-Paper on possible ways of bringing the two movements – ICNRD and the CD closer together and distributed it among the wide membership of the ICNRD seeking their views. One of the first practical steps for the two movements, in our view, could be participation of a CD delegation in the regional activities on exchange of experiences in follow-up to the ICNRD-5 that Mongolia is planning to organize. In the same vein, Mongolia can only welcome the initiative of the Secretary-General to initiate a study on the comparative advantages, complementarily and desirable distribution of labor of various intergovernmental democracy movements, organizations and institutes, whether global or regional, and on how the United Nations system has worked and could further work with them in a mutually supportive way. Such a study as we hope will be conducive to the global democracy promotion and consolidation effort by presenting concrete proposals and recommendations on streamlining and bringing more coherence into the actions by different stakeholders in that process, as well as the role and possible support from the UN system.
Democratization is not an event, it is a process that takes years or even decades of relentless efforts. Democracy is also a process that grows from within societies but can and should be supported from outside. The United Nations as an embodiment of the collective will of the world peoples has a natural role to play in supporting democracy around the globe. It was reassuring to witness this year an important development in this particular field of UN activities, namely the establishment of the Democracy Fund at the United Nations, which my country was among the first to welcome. The role of well-designed developmental and democracy-building assistance in the circumstances of an underdeveloped democracy cannot be overestimated. We must always bear in mind that there is no “one size fits all” democracy recipe as there are no absolutely similar recipes for developmental challenges. The best assistance is the one that is sensitive to national specificities and also mindful of universal lessons that we have all accumulated in the past thirty years of the “third wave of democratization”.
My delegation, therefore, welcomes the fact that the primary purpose of the Fund will be to support projects that consolidate and strengthen democratic institutions and facilitate democratic governance in new or restored democracies within the particular historical and cultural context of the country and region concerned, and looks forward to its early operationalization. Guided by Mongolia’s post-communist transition experience and its responsibility as Chair of ICNRD-5, we believe that capacity-building and institution-building related to democratic governance and the rule of law including aspects relevant to implementation of international legal instruments on human rights and freedoms should be the focus of first generation activities by the Democracy Fund. I would also like to emphasize that ICNRD as an all-inclusive movement reflective of the composition of the UN membership with a serious substantive agenda on democratic governance and civil society could also become the Democracy Fund partner in advancing the international democracy agenda.
In conclusion, let me note, Mr. President, that my delegation will introduce in the near future a draft resolution under this agenda item, text of which we shall distribute to all delegations early next week. We sincerely hope that the draft resolution will be able to command the same or greater support and number of co-sponsorships from among the Member States than in the previous years.