Axelrod Reading - From Ernesto Zedillo(ed Reforming the...

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1From Ernesto Zedillo (ed.), Reforming the United Nations for Peace and Security(New Haven: Yale Center for the Study of Globalization, March 2005), pp. 19-38. Promoting Democracy through International Organizations*Robert Axelrod University of Michigan SUMMARYThe promotion of representative democracy is vital for three of the most important challenges of the 21stCentury: securing human rights, preventing international and civil wars, and fighting terrorism. Unfortunately, the United Nations has had only limited success in promoting democracy. There are two reasons: some national governments fear that their own legitimacy could be undermined if democracy were to become a universal norm, and the United States has politicized the promotion of democracy by linking it to controversial aspects of its foreign policy such as the intervention in Iraq. Fortunately, there already exists an international organization that has great potential to further democracy, namely the Community of Democracies. To realize its potential, the Community of Democracies itself needs reform. It needs an elected Council to replace the self-appointed group of ten nations that has provided leadership so far; it needs to obtain the institutional resources to be an active promoter of democracy; and it needs to restrict its membership to countries that adhere to democratic practices. The Convening Group of the Community of Democracies should help the Community to meet its full potential by supporting an elected Council of the Community, the institutionalization of the organization, and high standards for membership. Non-governmental organizations and individual democracies should lobby for reform of the Community of Democracies, and should support the Community’s Democratic Caucus at the UN. The UN Secretary-General should continue to “lead from the front” in promoting democratic reform. He should (1) articulate his vision of the UN’s role in promoting democracy, (2) explain how the recognized human right to participate in “genuine elections” requires a multi-party representative democracy, (3) explain that the “responsibility to protect” includes protection against anarchy and brutal tyranny, as well as against starvation and genocide, and (4) address a meeting of the Community of Democracies and a meeting of the Democratic Caucus at the UN to show support for these organizations. *This is a revised form of a paper prepared for a Workshop on the Report of the UN High-level Panel on Threats, Challenges, and Change, Yale University, February 11-12, 2005. The author thanks the workshop participants, as well as Nicole Bibbins Sedaca, Morton Halperin, and Richard C. Rowson for their many helpful suggestions. Naturally, the author bears sole responsibility for this paper.
2THE GLOBAL STAKE IN DEMOCRATIC REFORMThe promotion of representative democracy is vital for three of the most important challenges of the 21stCentury: securing human rights, preventing international and civil wars, and fighting terrorism.

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