Documents on Democracy

Issue Date April 1995
Volume 6
Issue 2
Page Numbers 183-86
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The Americas

In December 1994, elected leaders from 34 nations in the Western Hemisphere met in Miami, Florida, to discuss the future of the region. The Summit of the Americas concluded with the issuance of two statements, a “Declaration of Principles” and a “Plan of Action.” Excerpts from the latter appear below:

The heads of state and government participating in the 1994 Summit of the Americas in Miami, Florida, desirous of furthering the broad objectives set forth in their Declaration of Principles and mindful of the need for practical progress on the vital tasks of enhancing democracy, promoting development, achieving economic integration and free trade, improving the lives of their people, and protecting the natural environment for future generations, affirm their commitment to this Plan of Action.

The strengthening, effective exercise, and consolidation of democracy constitute the central political priority of the Americas. The Organization of American States (OAS) is the principal hemispheric body for the defense of democratic values and institutions; among its essential purposes is to promote and consolidate representative democracy, with due respect to the principle of nonintervention. The OAS has adopted multilateral procedures to address the problems created when democratic order has been interrupted unconstitutionally. In order to prevent such crises, the OAS needs to direct more effort toward the promotion of democratic values and practices and to the social and economic strengthening of already-established democratic regimes.

Governments will…support [OAS] efforts to promote democracy by:

  • Encouraging exchanges of election-related technologies and assisting national electoral organizations, at the request of the interested state.
  • Strengthening the Unit for the Promotion of Democracy so that it can provide assistance at the request of the interested state on such matters as legislative and judicial processes, government reforms…and other institutional changes. [End Page 183]
  • Encouraging opportunities for exchange of experiences among member states’ democratic institutions, particularly legislature-to-legislature and judiciary-to-judiciary. . . .

A strong and diverse civil society, organized in various ways and sectors, including individuals, the private sector, labor, political parties, academics, and other nongovernmental actors and organizations, gives depth and durability to democracy. Similarly, a vigorous democracy requires broad participation in public issues. Such activities should be carried out with complete transparency and accountability, and to this end a proper legal and regulatory framework should be established.


Incumbent president Joaquim Alberto Chissano was reelected on 28 October 1994 in what the United Nations described as Mozambique’s first “free and just” multiparty elections. The balloting was the first to take place since the 4 October 1992 peace treaty ended 16 years of civil war. In a statement issued at a December 9 investiture ceremony in Maputo, President Chissano emphasized his commitment to a democratic Mozambique. Following are excerpts from his speech:

With the beginning of the mandate of the Assembly of the Republic yesterday and now the swearing in of the head of state, both sovereign organs freely elected by universal suffrage, we usher in a new era in the political life of our country, an era of multiparty parliamentary democracy, an era of political pluralism in which we all participate. . . .

As of now, conditions have been established for the consolidation of pluralist and multiparty democracy, which is in fact under way since the general elections of last October. The massive and exemplary participation at the ballot box, the serene exercise of the right to vote, and the acceptance of the election results unequivocally demonstrated the adherence of society and the political class to the democratic ideal.

In this moment of celebration of the victory of peace, we must not forget that this victory, while first of all a victory of the Mozambican people, is also the victory of all parties and political forces which for the last few years and particularly the last few months have been engaged in the political and civic education of their members and supporters. The victory of peace also belongs, therefore, to the leaders of all the political parties which ran in the general elections, for they assumed themselves as democrats and led their followers to adopt a posture of pluralism, tolerance, and respect for difference in the political debate and electoral competition.

We are all makers and owners of this peace and this democracy! . . . The task of consolidating democracy and cultivating reconciliation is for all. . . . [End Page 184]

As I begin my mandate as President of the Republic, I declare my solemn commitment that I shall always be the President of all Mozambicans. I shall guarantee to all Mozambicans the equal rights and freedoms enshrined in the Constitution and in law. I shall respect the will of the majority and pay due attention to the rights of minorities in order that the enjoyment of freedom and rights shall never again be restricted or threatened by intolerance, discrimination, or acts of aggression.


In late February, democracy advocates in China and exiled dissidents initiated a series of appeals for reform to the National People’s Congress, which opened its annual session on March 5. Following are excerpts from a translation by the China Institute of Washington, D.C., of the second appeal. The 12 signatories were Bao Zunxin, Chen Xiaoping, Chen Ziming, Jin Cheng, Liao Yiwu, Liu Xiaobo, Min Qi, Sha Yuguang, Xu Wenli, Wang Ruoshui, Wu Xuecan, and Zhou Duo.

Why has corruption escalated despite repeated control measures and campaigns carried out by the ruling party? We believe the cause lies in that the existing anticorruption policy fails to provide systematic constraint on and supervision of the ruling party itself. In other words, it is impossible to curb corruption by relying exclusively on the intention, words, and unilateral measures of the ruling party; system reform measures such as establishment of independent law-enforcement institutions and supervision by public opinion must be implemented. In view of the current situation, we have come up with both short-term and long-term reform plans. The short-term goal is to effectively curb rampant corruption while the long-term goal is to eradicate the root causes of corruption. . . .

Long-term reform. Abuse of political power results in corruption. Absolute power results in absolute corruption. Therefore, the most effective measure to eradicate the root causes of corruption is to subject political power, particularly the power of the ruling party, to systematic constraint and supervision.

  1. Lift the ban on party formation; institute an open, equal, universal, and direct election system. . . .
  2. Institute a democratic constitutional polity characterized by separation of power and mutual checks and balances. . . .
  3. Create a constitutional court to examine and supervise the conduct of the ruling party, the National People’s Congress, the government, the procuratorate, and the court in terms of constitutionality.
  4. Lift the ban on newspaper publication to truly guarantee citizens’ sacred right to freedom of speech and freedom of expression, which is stipulated by Article 35 of the Constitution . . . .

From now to early next century, whether China can successfully curb [End Page 185] political corruption while developing its economy and become a modern democracy will depend not only on the top-down reform to be implemented by the ruling party, but also on the bottom-up reform to be carried out by nongovernment political forces. So long as both the ruling party and nongovernment political forces give priority to public and national interests, conduct responsible and constructive political consultation under the principle of equality, advocate tolerance instead of animosity, jointly fight corruption, and promote social reconciliation, China will have a bright future.


The Nairobi Law Monthly, edited by noted Kenyan lawyer and journalist Gitobu Imanyara, resumed publication in March 1995 after being suspended for almost nine months. Former U.S. ambassador Smith Hempstone (1989–93), who earned the respect of Kenyan democrats during his tenure there, was invited to speak at a February 8 ceremony marking the relaunch. Denied a visa by the Kenyan government, Ambassador Hempstone sent a speech that was delivered on his behalf. An excerpt appears below:

Freedom of speech and of the press are, of course, fundamental to the functioning of democracy. That is why this right is enshrined in the First Amendment to the American Constitution. The pen truly is mightier than the sword, for with it men of vision speak to those age-old truths that all men nurture in their hearts. Most tyrants have recognized this, and that is why they have paid such flattering—if sometimes uncomfortable—attention to suppressing freedom of speech and the press. But they are doomed to fail, as we saw in 1989, when the Berlin Wall came tumbling down and the bells of freedom rang out from the Baltic Sea to the Pacific Ocean, from the Gulf of Guinea to the Indian Ocean.

This groundswell of freedom may occasionally be slowed or diverted. But it cannot be stopped. There is no vaccine against the virus of freedom. You cannot cage the wind. Men who are born free insist on dreaming dreams, and, in the fullness of time, those dreams will be realized. It is not always given to those who plant the seed to harvest the crop. But the earth does abide, and those who come after us will inherit the fruit of our labors. Nor will they forget who it was who broke the soil.

But about one thing no one should delude himself: the collapse of tyranny does not ensure the immediate triumph of democracy. As we have seen in nations not very far distant from Kenya, anarchy, the vile and disfigured half-brother of democracy, lurks always in the shadows, ready to assert his primacy. Indeed, freedom and liberty never are finally and definitely won. They have to be defended where they exist—and fought for where they do not—every day, by each succeeding generation.