Community of Democracies alive and kicking?


The Ninth Community of Democracies (CD) Governing Council Ministerial will convene on September 15 in Washington, DC, the U.S. Department of State has confirmed:

This ministerial represents the culmination of the two-year U.S. Presidency of the CD and will bring together the CD’s 30-member Governing Council, participating states and civil society. …The CD was created by the United States and Poland in 2000 to advance democratic values around the world. The CD’s core mission is to build a global network of governments and civil society to strengthen security, prosperity, and respect for human rights around the world.

The news will be welcomed by democracy advocates who feared that the CD was being allowed to atrophy.

“At a time when autocrats are becoming more aggressive and sophisticated in repressing their own citizens and working in concert to undermine democratic societies beyond their borders, the Community of Democracies is even more relevant today than it was 15 years ago,” said former secretary of state Madeleine Albright, who founded the group in 2000 with the late Polish foreign minister Bronislaw Geremek. “This is a time when democratic governments must join together to reaffirm their common cause, to support each other and to confront those forces that would threaten a more peaceful, stable, prosperous and humane world,” she added.

The CD today announced that Thomas E. Garrett (right) will succeed Ambassador Maria Leissner, as the group’s Secretary General:

Mr. Garrett brings more than three decades of experience in the field of politics and advocacy. Most recently, he supported reformers and democrats across the world with his work at the International Republican Institute [IRI – a core institute of the National Endowment for Democracy], a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that supports democracy, civil society, women and youth political empowerment and democratic governance in more than 80 countries.

“It’s a privilege to join the Community of Democracies at this time of challenges to democratic values and systems worldwide,” Mr. Garrett said. “I look forward to working with the free nations gathered under the Community’s banner, joined by a vibrant civil society, to strengthen freedom and democracy.”

Democracy advocates are expressing concern that India, a member of the CD’s governing council, is curbing civil society.

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