View Full Version : Manila Declaration on Democracy and Peace

20-12-07, 12:56
World Forum for Democratization in Asia (WFDA)
Manila Declaration on Democracy and Peace


Adopted on 21 September 2007 at the close of the second biennial conference of the World Forum for Democratization in Asia (WFDA) in Manila, Philippines (19-21 September 2007)

I. Introduction

We, more than 100 participants from over 20 countries in Asia, as well as partners from around the world, met in Manila from 19-21 September 2007 at the second biennial conference of the World Forum for Democratization in Asia (WFDA), which was convened by the WFDA Steering Committee and hosted by the Initiatives for International Dialogue, with generous support from the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy.

During the three-day meeting, we as democracy advocates and human rights activists identified and assessed issues and challenges we faced in our work for democratization in Asia, in particular evaluating our first Framework for Action in the light of developments in the region since the first biennial conference in Taipei in 2005.

We express our greatest appreciation to our host country, the Philippines, and our hope that it can once again take up a leadership role in championing democracy in the region.

We recall and reaffirm our previous Taipei Declaration on Democracy in Asia (17 September 2005), as well as the Framework for Action 2007-2009, also adopted today, and especially the specific country situations and concerns cited therein.

We note that today is the International Day of Peace, declared by the United Nations in 1981 by General Assembly Resolution A/RES/36/67 (further amended by A/RES/55/282 in 2001) as a time “devoted to commemorating and strengthening the ideals of peace both within and among all nations and peoples.” We join our voices with people around the world who are commemorating this day.

We further note that 21 September is also the anniversary of the imposition of martial law in the Philippines in 1972. This ushered in a period of dictatorship which lasted until the 1986 “People Power” movement, when the inherent democratic spirit among Filipinos engendered a revolution felt across Asia.

Finally, we are deeply concerned that many Asians are suffering as a result of a deepening nexus between internal conflicts which are caused or exacerbated by authoritarian rule or anti-democratic practices and non-compliance with the rule of law, among which we may cite the peoples of Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, China, East Turkestan, Laos, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tibet, and Vietnam.

Furthermore, we deplore the use of national security as a pretext for attacks on democracy and suppression of human rights in many Asian countries, such as Malaysia, Singapore, Tibet, Thailand, and Vietnam.

We welcome and reiterate solidarity for the courageous actions of civilians and Buddhist monks in Burma who have held more than 50 peaceful protests for democracy and economic reforms throughout the country in the past month.

II. Resolution

Therefore, this is the appropriate occasion to emphasize the indissoluble link between democracy and peace, in our region and around the world. In particular, we affirm the following:

Democracy and peace are both basic rights of all peoples. They are universal, indivisible, and interdependent and interrelated.

Internal conflicts must be resolved through democratic means. In particular, lasting solutions must include the realization of the ability of marginalized or disenfranchised groups, including women and indigenous peoples, to participate in civil life – including the rights to speak, associate, and assemble. Conversely, human rights violations only serve to instigate or sustain conflicts. In this regard, we particularly welcome the progress that has been made to resolve the long conflict in Aceh, and we support the active civil society engagement in the peace process in Mindanao.

While we believe democratic political processes; including elections are the main means of addressing and resolving political conflicts, such mechanisms must accommodate and affirm political plurality, and not simply majority rule. To this end, WFDA will actively support peoples’ participation in decision-making processes.

Military rule cannot bring either democracy or genuine peace; therefore, effective civilian control of the military is a basic condition that must be realized in all Asian countries.

Externally, democracies are less prone to threaten other countries, since informed, empowered citizens rarely choose to bring upon themselves the pain and risks of war. Therefore, democratization of the rest of Asia will promote regional stability and peace, and in the meantime democracies should support each other more actively.

Military interference in other countries’ affairs must always be condemned, including military assistance to authoritarian regimes.

A focus on national security should be replaced by a focus on human security.

Governments and civil society groups must promote women’s empowerment in peace-building, conflict prevention and resolution, in keeping with the spirit and content of the UN Security Council Resolution 1325 on women, peace, and security.

Civil societies from around the region must work together to realize these goals. Therefore, as a platform of Asian democrats, we resolve to support each other and to share information and experience, in the spirit of true Asian solidarity.