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Journal of Democracy 13.1 (2002) 184-188
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Documents On Democracy
At the conference of the British Labour Party on October 2, Prime Minis-ter Tony Blair spoke on the events of September 11 and their aftermath. Excerpts from his remarks follow:
In retrospect, the Millennium marked only a moment in time. It was the events of September 11 that marked a turning point in history, where we confront the dangers of the future and assess the choices facing humankind.
It was a tragedy. An act of evil. From this nation, goes our deepest sympathy and prayers for the victims and our profound solidarity with the American people. . . .
When we act to bring to account those that committed the atrocity of September 11, we do so not out of bloodlust.
We do so because it is just. We do not act against Islam. The true followers of Islam are our brothers and sisters in this struggle. Bin Laden is no more obedient to the proper teaching of the Koran than those Crusaders of the twelfth century who pillaged and murdered represented the teaching of the Gospel.
It is time the West confronted its ignorance of Islam. Jews, Muslims and Christians are all children of Abraham.
This is the moment to bring the faiths closer together in understanding of our common values and heritage, a source of unity and strength.
It is time also for parts of Islam to confront prejudice against America, and not only Islam but parts of Western societies too.
America has its faults as a society, as we have ours.
But I think of the Union of America born out of the defeat of slavery.
I think of its Constitution, with its inalienable rights granted to every citizen, still a model for the world.
I think of a black man, born in poverty, who became chief of their armed forces and is now secretary of state--Colin Powell--and I wonder frankly whether such a thing could have happened here. [End Page 184]
I think of the Statue of Liberty and how many refugees, migrants and the impoverished passed its light and felt that, if not for them, for their children, a new world could indeed be theirs.
I think of a country where people who do well don't have questions asked about their accent, their class, their beginnings, but have admiration for what they have done and the success they've achieved.
I think of those New Yorkers I met, still in shock, but resolute; the fire fighters and police, mourning their comrades but still head held high.
I think of all this and I reflect: Yes, America has its faults, but it is a free country, a democracy, it is our ally and some of the reaction to September 11 betrays a hatred of America that shames those that feel it.
So I believe this is a fight for freedom. And I want to make it a fight for justice too. Justice not only to punish the guilty. But justice to bring those same values of democracy and freedom to people round the world.
On September 11, the Organization of American States adopted the "Inter-American Democratic Charter" in Lima, Peru. The document, which can be found in full on the OAS website (www.oas.org), is excerpted below:
THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY . . . RESOLVES: . . .
The peoples of the Americas have a right to democracy and their governments have an obligation to promote and defend it. . . .
The effective exercise of representative democracy is the basis for the rule of law and of the constitutional regimes of the member states of the Organization of American States. Representative democracy is strengthened and deepened by permanent, ethical, and responsible participation of the citizenry within a legal framework conforming to the respective constitutional order.
Essential elements of representative democracy include, inter alia, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, access to and the exercise of power in accordance with the rule of law, the holding of periodic, free, and fair elections based on secret balloting and universal suffrage as an expression of the sovereignty...