Heads of State and international organizations praise the Community of Democracies in special event for civil society

October 7, 2013

In a special high-level event for civil society organized by the President of the United States, Heads of State and international organizations pledged to work closely with the Community of Democracies, which was mentioned as one of the main tools for protecting and promoting civil society.

Heads of State, representatives of civil society, international organizations, the philantropic community and the private sector gathered at the margins of the United Nations General Assembly on September 23 to discuss alarming trends of restrictions on civil society, and possible tools to overcome them. Among the main instruments for protecting and promoting civil society mentioned at the event is the Community of Democracies, acknowledged for its various initiatives and activities to support civil society and bring it in direct dialogue with governments and the private sector.

The President of the United States and host of the event, Barack Obama, said "the Community of Democracies is working to take aim at restrictive laws", taking note of the Community's Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society, including its special alert mechanism in response to legislative action that could constrain the work of civil society organizations.

Elbegdorj Tsakhia, President of Mongolia, former Presidency of the Community, mentioned the close cooperation between civil society and governments promoted by the Community through its Ministerial Conferences and Declarations: "A key component in the Ulaanbaatar Declaration was our concern about the restrictions placed on non-governmental organizations in some countries. In our joint statement in promotion and protection of civil society we noted that the strength and vibrancy of nations depends on the vigorous role of civil society and in the robust engagement between governments and civil society to advance shared goals of peace, prosperity and the well being of all citizens."

The Community of Democracies acknowledges the importance of a vibrant and active civil society to a well-functioning democracy, and act constantly to enhance the participation of civil society representatives in its many initiatives. The civil society pillar of the Community, represented by the International Steering Committee, as well as the participation of civil society representatives in the LEND Network, Democracy Partnership Challenge and Ministerial Conferences, are further examples that can be added to those mentioned by the Presidents of Mongolia and the United States. It is for these initiatives that the Community of Democracies is being widely recognized as a key actor in the global effort to protect civil society, a recognition formalized in the official Joint Statement signed by the participants of the event: "We will ensure effective coordination of the multiple efforts already underway toward this end, including through the UN system, the Community of Democracies, the Open Government Partnership and Lifeline, and commit to strengthen our support for these existing mechanisms."