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  • Documents on Democracy


On June 27–30 the Washington-based National Democratic Institute for International Affairs and the Republic of Yemen cosponsored an Emerging Democracies Forum in Sana’a (see News and Notes below, pp. 184–85). At the close of the meeting, participants approved the “Sana’a Declaration,” which is excerpted below:

We recognize that the transition process is not complete and that much needs to be done to consolidate our democratic systems and to implement further political and economic reforms. While we are proud to have joined the growing community of democracies, the international community has tended to focus on countries that are considered strategically more important or are in crisis. However, democratic progress in our states contributes to peace, stability and prosperity both within and beyond our borders. . . .

[T]he Forum included government officials, members of governing and opposition parties, and representatives of labor, business and civic groups from Benin, Bolivia, El Salvador, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Guyana, Macedonia, Malawi, Mali, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nepal and Yemen. We represent a diversity of democratic experience, but our attendance at this Forum demonstrates the universality of the democratic idea. This group of nations with different traditions, cultures and historical experiences was brought together by a shared commitment to democracy and a belief that the promise of economic prosperity enjoyed by all citizens is more likely realized in a democratic political environment based on respect for human rights, popular participation and the rule of law. Further we share a commitment to:

  • • pursue economic reforms and secure fundamental workers’ rights, while making every effort to educate and build widespread consensus for these goals;

  • • improve protections for human rights for all our people; [End Page 177]

  • • hold regular free and fair elections, with special attention to the need to build public confidence in the process;

  • • develop our legislatures as an essential instrument for broad public participation and representation as well as for policy debate and oversight of government;

  • • empower democratic governance at local levels;

  • • deepen our commitment to, and implement measures to ensure, the full participation of women in political life;

  • • ensure that the rights of minorities are respected and that every effort is made to engage marginalized groups in the political process;

  • • broaden the democratic experience by adopting all reasonable means to encourage public access to, and participation in, the policy making process;

  • • support the strengthening of civil society;

  • • uphold the freedom of the press;

  • • address the urgent challenge of corruption by instituting meaningful reforms, including those that increase governmental transparency; and

  • • foster judicial independence, enhance public access to legal redress and ensure that the laws are fairly applied to all. . . .

As a result of this conference, we hope to establish mechanisms between our countries to continue the sharing of ideas and experiences through consultations, exchange programs, an interactive web site and other means. We also look forward to working together in a variety of international fora to promote democratic principles and practices. We intend to support the efforts of other countries that are beginning the process of democratic transition.

The international community should renew its commitment to countries working to build democratic institutions and processes and dedicate the resources for this task. In particular, the donor community and the international financial institutions, in considering loans, aid and debt policy, should give priority to those countries implementing political as well as economic reforms. These political reforms would include measures that advance popular participation, build public trust in elections and legislatures, and enhance government transparency and accountability.

Abdul Karim Al-Eryani, prime minister of Yemen, addressed the conference. Excerpts from his remarks follow:

We are all aware that each emerging democracy based on the principles of political pluralism and free and just elections has its own specificities in view of the nature of its own problems and constraints. There are, however, common denominators which contribute to bringing us together and uniting us. . . . [T]he most significant tasks which may unite us on the path of democracy and development are the following: [End Page 178]

  1. 1. We must continually reaffirm that democratic government as an integral system is the only way for fulfilling the political and economic aspirations of our peoples and...

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