A community of democratic societies in Asia: Asia Democracy Network inaugurated

October 30, 2013

The Asia Democracy Network, which was launched and announced at the Seventh Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies in April 2013 in Ulaanbaatar, held its first meeting on the margins of the Seoul Democracy Forum, on October 21-22 in Seoul.

Civil society representatives from Bangladesh, Cambodia, China, China-HK, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mongolia, Myanmar (Burma), Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam came to Seoul to form the Asia Demoracy Network (ADN). The ADN is the first international network of civil society organizations and democracy advocates in Asia, and their members are dedicated to the strengthening of democracy and human rights.

The ADN promotes and advances democratization and democratic governance at all levels of society. It does so through solidarity and cooperation among civil society organizations and democracy activists across the continent, and aims to build a stronger regional democracy network and movement engaged in national and international advocacy for democracy.

Participants at the inaugural meeting adopted a Charter of Principles of the Network. The Charter embraces democratic principles and practices such as free and fair elections, education for democracy, protection of minorities and gender equality; and stresses the importance of sustainable development, international cooperation, and cooperation between governments, civil society and the private sector.

According to these principles, the ADN's work will focus on addressing a variety of democracy-related challenges, among them corruption, impunity, social inequality, bad governance, restriction of freedom of expression, religious fundamentalism, gender inequality, and exclusion of marginalized groups.

Present in the inauguration meeting was the Secretary General of the Community of Democracies, Ambassador Maria Leissner, who congratulated the members of the new Network upon its creation, expressing her appreciation for those who devote their daily life to promote democratic standards in Asia, often under hostile conditions: "Knowing that you are not alone is very important. If you know that others agree in demanding freedom, you will be morally strengthened. ADN is a very important step to knit a democracy harness in Asia for democracy leaders in old democracies, emerging democracies, flawed democracies and non-free societies. I congratulate all of you on the successful preparation and launch of the ADN, and assure you that the rest of the global community of democrats and democracies stands ready to support you in your important endeavour."