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Poland: Democracies Issue Declaration Of Values

Warsaw, 27 June 2000 (RFE/RL) - Foreign ministers attending a global democracy conference in Warsaw have released the text of what they call the Warsaw Declaration, which representatives from some 100 states intend to sign today. The declaration is intended to serve as a basic charter for democratic countries to follow. It also provides a blueprint for those states aspiring to a democratic system. The declaration sets out basic principles of democratic governance, with emphasis on the importance of human rights, civilian elected rule, the protection of minorities, and freedom of choice for individuals.

The states which are due to sign the document refer to themselves in the declaration as a "Community of Democracies." They resolve to act jointly to encourage the growth of democracy in countries where it is suppressed.

But the declaration only pledges its signatories to act within existing institutions. It does not, as some had hoped, provide any new mechanism for punishing governments which do not respect democratic norms.

Several signatories, among them France and the United States, have expressed the need to respect national sovereignty -- thus putting limits on the capacity for international intervention to safeguard human rights.