Documents on Democracy

Issue Date October 2001
Volume 12
Issue 4
Page Numbers 182-86
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On July 26, the day after she had addressed the U.S. Congressional Human Rights Caucus, Elena Bonner, human rights activist and widow of Andrei Sakharov, wrote to Caucus co-chairman Frank Wolf about the situation in Chechnya. An excerpt appears below:

As long as the war in Chechnya continues Russia will continue to move farther from democratic development. The lawlessness and cruelty, the disregard for human rights, the destruction of the independent media, the strengthening of the state’s security apparatus all have roots in the Chechen war and spread like cancer throughout Russia and the Russian society. The problems of Russia’s relations to its neighbors and the developed democratic countries cannot be solved until the Chechen war stops and Russia returns to the path of the democratic development. That is why solving this problem, stopping the criminal war is imperative for the United States and the international community.


On July 23, Indonesia’s People’s Consultative Assembly removed from office President Abdurrahman Wahid and chose as his successor Vice-President Megawati Sukarnoputri. In her first state address, on August 16, Indonesian Independence Day, Megawati discussed many of the country’s major challenges. Excerpts appear below:

During the last four years our whole nation lived under a constant fear, because we were stricken by monetary, economic, security, and political crises, coming just one after the other and, worse still, we felt that there had been institutional crisis and conflict. This was not only felt at the central level, but also in the villages. It is then understandable that many were worried, even very worried, about whether or not the Republic painstakingly established by our founding fathers would be able to survive. . . . [End Page 182]

We should perhaps ask ourselves, taking into account the recurrence of the crises in our constitutional life: Is there anything that we can do to perfect our constitutional principles or rules? Recently, there emerged an awareness of a need to make more comprehensive and more conceptual amendments to matters pertaining to the system of state based on the 1945 Constitution. . . .

The development of a new Indonesia also requires restructuring the relations between the central and local governments. We are aware of the fact that not only have the overly centralistic infrastructures been inefficient so far, but they also have not been able to provide an opportunity for the emergence and development of initiatives and creativities of our citizens. In the framework of relations between the central and regional governments, much of the authorities and state budget supports should be allotted to the districts and mayoralties. . . .

There is also a need to draw a clearer line on the essence, character, method and materialization of the reform movement as well as the democratization process that we have embarked upon since 1998. I observe and carefully listen to complaints lodged by some members of the society indicating that under the banner of reforms and democratization there have been many flaws committed, forcing us to question whether or not they are still considered to be legitimate reform drives or have instead exceeded their proportion. In several instances, we witnessed the outbreak of various mass riots, some of which have been conducted in the name of reforms and democratization. These series of actions have raised concerns over the possibility of the emergence of anarchy in the midst of our society, be it in soft, mild, or harsh forms. These have forced us to ponder on the need to gradually carry out genuine reforms and democratization drives with a clear agenda and conducted in the framework of our indirect and representative democratic system. . . .

We have to admit that our understanding of human rights in the context of today’s modern life is indeed insufficient and hollow. We need to observe this important point, for human rights are progressively advancing and becoming one of those basic cornerstones or, better still, they have become widely acknowledged parameters to judge whether or not a given nation-state has managed to reach a modern stage. . . .

Our difficulty in eradicating KKN (Korupsi, Kolusi dan Nepotisme–Corruption, Collusion and Nepotism) practices directly or indirectly has put us into the crisis sweeping the nation since 1997. In contrast to the feudalistic society’s framework that seemingly fails to see these KKN practices as a major issue, in the democratic framework it will be instead considered to be a formidable problem. The KKN practices, regardless of how trivial they are, will transgress the public’s trust and at the same time violate the official oath. . . .

The context of the questions of Aceh and Irian Jaya is far different from that of the East Timor. These questions are strictly the internal [End Page 183] matter of Indonesia, especially in the context of nation- and state-building. We have to honestly admit that the crux of the issues is the various policies of the past, which are considered as compromising the interests of the people of those regions. It is therefore normal that we as a nation offer a sincere apology to our fellow citizens who have long been suffering from those inappropriate policies.

It is indeed true that an apology does not suffice. Therefore, we are now doing basic corrections on the condition of the two regions, not only by way of paying respect to cultural identities and specific charac-teristics of the people in those regions, but also by means of granting the regional administrations more authority to manage their respective regions in the framework of special autonomy. Yet one thing is clear; all these should remain within the context of preserving the territorial integrity of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia.


On July 11, the African Union (formerly the Organization of African Unity) met in Lusaka, Zambia, and approved an action plan for the future of the continent, the New Africa Initiative. Excerpts dealing with democracy appear below:

43. The new phase of globalization coincided with the reshaping of international relations in the aftermath of the Cold War. This is associated with the emergence of new concepts of security and self-interest, which encompass the right to development and the eradication of poverty. Democracy and state legitimacy have been redefined to include accountable government, a culture of human rights and popular participation as central elements.

44. Significantly, the numbers of democratically elected leaders are on the increase. Through their actions, they have declared that the hopes of Africa’s peoples for a better life can no longer rest on the magnanimity of others.

45. Across the continent, democracy is spreading, backed by the African Union (AU), which has shown a new resolve to deal with conflicts and censure deviation from the norm. These efforts are reinforced by voices in civil society, including associations of women, youth and the independent media. . . .

47. The African initiative centers around African ownership and management. . . .The programme is a new framework of interaction with the rest of the world, including the industrialised countries and multilateral organisations. It is based on the agenda set by African peoples through their own initiatives and of their own volition, to shape their own destiny.

To achieve these objectives, African leaders will take joint responsibility [End Page 184] for the following: . . . to promote democracy and human rights in their respective countries and regions, by developing clear standards of accountability, transparency and participative governance at the national and subnational levels.


The articles by Andrew F. Cooper and Thomas Legler and by Cynthia McClintock on pp. 123-40 above focus on the OAS mission to Peru in 2000. OAS General Assembly Resolution 1753 authorizing the mission (adopted 5 June 2000) appears in full below:

The General Assembly, bearing in mind that the Preamble of the Charter of the OAS establishes that representative democracy is an indispensable condition for the stability, peace, and development of the region;

That under the provisions of the Charter, one of the basic purposes of the OAS is to promote and consolidate representative democracy, with due respect for the principle of non-intervention; and

The Commitment of Santiago on Democracy and the Renewal of the Inter-American System (1991), the Declaration of Managua (1993), and the Declarations and Plans of Action of the Summits of the Americas (Miami 1994 and Santiago 1998);

Reaffirming recognition of and support for OAS electoral observation missions;

Noting the conclusions presented in the report of the Electoral Observation Mission to the Peru National Elections for the two electoral rounds held April 9 and May 28, 2000 and the presentation made by the Government of Peru;

Concerned that the credibility of both the process and the outcome of those elections has been undermined by persisting reports of irregularities that have not been satisfactorily addressed, including immediate electoral process concerns and existing institutional deficiencies;

Recognizing that both Peru and the Electoral Observation Mission’s report have called attention to the urgent need further to strengthen democratic institutions in that country, in particular the Judicial Branch, the Public Ministry, the Constitutional Tribunal and the National Council of Magistrates, together with reforming the electoral process and strengthening freedom of the press; and

Recognizing further the invitation of Peru to send a Mission for the purpose of strengthening democratic institutions,

Resolves: 1. To send to Peru, immediately, a Mission comprising the Chair of the General Assembly and the Secretary General of the OAS with the purpose of exploring, with the Government of Peru and other sectors of the political community, options and recommendations aimed [End Page 185] at further strengthening democracy in that country, in particular measures to reform the electoral process, including reform of judicial and constitutional tribunals, as well as strengthening freedom of the press.

2. To agree that the Mission report to OAS foreign ministers, in a manner to be determined by the Mission, in order to allow for full consideration of its findings and recommendations and to initiate follow-up as appropriate.


President Mohammad Khatami of Iran was sworn in on August 8 for his second term after winning reelection on June 8 with 77 percent of the vote. The following are excerpts from his inaugural speech:

Four years ago, on taking office, I said that success in the performance of the mutual duties and responsibilities of the government and the nation, and the realization of the people’s most important right, that is, the determination of their own destiny, was dependent on the constant supervision of citizens and civil institutions over power and the constant assessment and criticism of programs and performances. . . .

The basic direction of the country’s executive body during this period has been based on the greatest possible institutionalization of the rule of law and the development and enhancement of criticism and openness to criticism. . . .

The reform movement in the country today must be innovative, both within the state and society. We must implement the achievements of the reforms in all our specific plans and programs. The greatest achievement of this system is the fact that, in the name of religion, it acknowledges people’s rule, respects the rights of the citizens and works towards the development of the country in all fields. It recognizes the people as true source of power and ruler of the country. It acknowledges their right to monitor the government. It recognizes the people’s inalienable right to live with dignity.

The religious democracy is the essence of the constitution. This means a continuous reform of the Islamic system’s performance along the lines of people’s votes. It does not mean reforming and controlling the people according to the state’s particular wishes. It also does not mean the formation of a system that is beyond criticism. . . .

I will try not to abandon, under no matter what pressure, my religious, national and revolutionary duty in defense of basic rights, legitimate freedoms, a free press and civil institutions arising from the people. I will try to continue to rely on reason, dialogue and the negation of violence in order to hear the voice of the people and interact with them, and, with God’s grace, not to surrender before any violence-seeking pressure.