Documents on Democracy

Issue Date October 2009
Volume 20
Issue 4
Page Numbers 178-182
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When official results of Iran’s disputed June 12 presidential election claimed that 63 percent of the vote had gone to incumbent Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, leaving reformist challenger Mir Hosein Musavi with only 34 percent, protests broke out throughout the country. (See the articles on pp. 5–20 above.) On June 20, Musavi issued a statement in Tehran, which is excerpted below:

The great participation in this election was, in the first degree, indebted to the efforts for creating hope and trust among the people to obtain a befitting response to the existing administrative crises and the widespread social dissatisfaction, whose accumulation can target the bedrock of the Revolution and the Regime. If this good faith and trust coming from the people are not answered by protecting their votes, or the people cannot react in a civil and peaceful way to defend their rights, there will be dangerous pathways ahead, responsibility for which lies with those who can’t stand peaceful behaviors.

If the high volume of cheating and vote manipulation that has put a fire to the foundations of people’s trust is itself introduced as the proof and evidence of the lack of fraud, the republicanism of the regime will be slaughtered and the idea of the incompatibility of Islam and republicanism would be practically proven. Such a fate will make two groups happy: 1) those who arrayed their troops against the Imam [Khomeini] from the beginning of the Revolution and assumed that the Islamic government is the same as Tyranny of the Rightful and, in their false surmise, want to bring people to Heaven by force, and 2) those who, by claiming to defend the rights of the people, basically consider religion and Islam to be blockers of the realization of republicanism.…

Now by endorsing what happened in the elections, the government officials have taken responsibility for it, and have set limits on the results of any further investigation and auditing so that such an investigation should not annul the election or change its results—even though [End Page 178] the number of votes cast in 170 voting centers has exceeded the number of people eligible to vote there. In this situation, we are being told to follow up on our objection with the Guardian Council, but this council has proven its lack of neutrality in its acts before, during, and after the election. But a prerequisite for any fair arbitration is observing impartiality.

I still strongly believe that the request for annulment of this election and a renewed election is a given right and it should be investigated impartially by a board trusted nationally, instead of rejecting the possibility of any positive results from the investigation beforehand.…

As I look at the scene, I see that it has been set to achieve more than just forcing an unwanted government on the nation, it is set to achieve a new type of political life in the country. As a companion who has seen the beauty of your Green Wave of participation, I will never allow any-body’s life to be endangered because of my actions. At the same time, I stand by my firm belief of this election being null and void, and insist on reclaiming people’s rights, and in spite of the little power I possess, I believe that your motivation and creativity can still result in following up your legitimate rights in new and civil guises. Be confident that I will stand by your side at all times.


On June 28, President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales was deposed and exiled by the Honduran military. The new de facto government, led by Roberto Micheletti, claimed that Zelaya had been ousted because he had tried to extend his power unconstitutionally. On July 4, in response to the political crisis, the Organization of American States (OAS) issued a resolution suspending Honduras from the organization. Excerpts appear below. (For a full version of this text, see

The General Assembly,

Deeply concerned about the worsening of the current political crisis in the Republic of Honduras resulting from the coup d’état against the constitutional government of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales, as well as his arbitrary detention and expulsion from the country, which produced an unconstitutional alteration of the democratic order.…


1. To suspend the Honduran state from the exercise of its right to participate in the Organization of American States, in accordance with Article 21 of the Inter-American Democratic Charter. The suspension shall take effect immediately.…

3. To instruct the Secretary General, together with duly designated representatives of various countries, to reinforce all diplomatic initiatives and to promote other initiatives for the restoration of democracy [End Page 179] and the rule of law in the Republic of Honduras and the reinstatement of President José Manuel Zelaya Rosales so that he may fulfill the mandate for which he was democratically elected, and to report immediately to the Permanent Council.…

On June 29, the nongovernmental Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy issued a statement in response to the political situation in Honduras. Excerpts appear below:

The Latin American and Caribbean Network for Democracy, comprised of activists and civil and social organizations that promote democracy in our countries and in our region, expresses its profound concern for the grave political crisis that the Republic of Honduras has experienced over the past few days.

Considering that the purpose of our network is to provide support and solidarity to groups and individuals in situations where democracy is in danger, we reject and condemn all actions aimed at breaking the constitutional order of the Republic of Honduras and the violent removal of the democratically elected President.

Likewise, we reject the antidemocratic positions promoted by the Honduran Government that led to this crisis, particularly the practice of changing the constitutional rules to favor the President.…

Finally, in these difficult moments, we send our message of solidarity to the Honduran people, and especially to those civil society organizations whose arduous work in favor of the highest ideals, principles, and practices of democracy has been and continues to be fundamental to the strengthening and consolidation of democracy in the Republic of Honduras.


The Community of Democracies held its fifth ministerial conference in Lisbon on July 11–12. Roland Rich, executive head of the United Nations Democracy Fund, delivered a message to the conference from UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. Excerpts appear below:

It is highly appropriate that this Ministerial Meeting is held in Lisbon, because as academics tell us, it is on the Iberian Peninsula that the third wave of democratization began some 35 years ago. So it is with deep appreciation that I congratulate Portugal on continuing its leadership role in advancing the values of democracy.

At the turn of the century, not long before the First Ministerial Meeting of the Community of Democracies in Warsaw in 2000, a journalist asked Amartya Sen to reflect on the twentieth century and identify its greatest achievement. Sen’s response has become widely known and acclaimed: [End Page 180] he said that by the close of the twentieth century, democracy had become a universal value.

Pleasing as that response is, it left much work to be done—turning this universal value into a universal reality. This is the momentous goal that the Community of Democracies has set for itself. My message to you today is that the Community of Democracies is not alone in these efforts. Many others are working towards the same goal, with the United Nations foremost among them.

At the 2005 World Summit, all the world’s Governments:

  • reaffirmed “that democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives”;
  • stressed “that democracy, development and respect for all human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing”;
  • and renewed their “commitment to support democracy by strengthening countries’ capacities to implement the principles and practices of democracy and resolve to strengthen the capacity of the United Nations to assist Member States.”

The United Nations has been active in fulfilling the ambitious mandate established by the World Summit. Whether it is assisting executives and parliaments to strengthen democratic governance, building democratic objectives into peacekeeping missions, supporting electoral processes, empowering women, protecting the rights of children, or investing in the voice of civil society—the United Nations has adopted democracy as an end in itself as well as a means to achieve peace, development and respect for human rights.…

These goals and ideals give our two institutions a great deal of common ground.


In elections held between April 16 and May 13, the Indian National Congress won an unexpectedly large victory. (See the articles on pp. 79–92 above.) On June 9, re-elected prime minister Manmohan Singh spoke in the Lok Sabha in reply to President Pratibha Patil’s address. His remarks are excerpted below:

Madam, the conduct of free and fair elections and the subsequent formation of the Government are indeed a triumph for Indian democracy. We can take legitimate pride in our achievements. There were many people who believed that Parliamentary democracy cannot succeed in [End Page 181] a country as poor as India, and that Parliamentary democracy cannot succeed in a country where the voters are illiterate to such an extent as is the case with our country. We have seen people writing about it. I recall that way back in the 1960s a correspondent of the New York Times, Selig S. Harrison, who was based in India, went back and wrote a book, namely, India: The Most Dangerous Decades, predicting the demise of the Indian Union by the end of the 1970s.

We have proved all these prophets of doom and gloom wrong, and our Republic has shown the resilience to march ahead.

Madam, I sincerely believe that social and economic transformation of India in the framework of a democratic polity, an open society committed to the rule of law, committed to respect for all fundamental human rights, is a development in world history which, if it succeeds, will have profound consequences for the processes of development in all countries of the third world.

People marvel at a country of a billion people characterized by the vast diversity of languages spoken, characterized by the diversity of religious beliefs and caste tensions, yet moving forward together. This is something which has earned our country deep admiration. At least, that is what I have sensed in my five years as Prime Minister as I travelled to various parts of the world.

It is our privilege and it is our bounden duty to strengthen the democratic foundations of our magnificent Republic.

There are tensions in the system, and while we congratulate ourselves, we must not lose sight of some manifest weaknesses—the growing use of money power and muscle power in elections. I think these are developments which need to be tackled, if we have to maintain the health of our democratic polity.

Also, if we have to succeed, it is necessary for us to take a firm pledge that we will not encourage groups and individuals who wish to divide our country on the basis of religion or caste.

We should deal firmly with people who believe violence is the only way to achieve their objectives. I believe we must all be solemnly committed to ensuring that social and economic development, which is a must for a poor country, must benefit all sections of society, all States of the Union, all communities and all persons.…

There is one thing more that I wish to say. Democracy is a beautiful tree, but all modern democracies, under the pressure of competitive politics, tend to adopt a short-term perspective; very often, longer term concerns and issues do not get the attention that they deserve. We must have this long-term vision, if India is to realize its development objectives. I sincerely hope that we will have that vision, that will and the courage to address some of these longer term concerns as a befitting tribute to the founding fathers of our Republic who gave us the magnificent Constitution of India. [End Page 182]