In May 2018, a working group of global parliamentarians and parliamentary networks convened at the Ninth Global Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy in Dakar, Senegal, to discuss parliamentary efforts to promote democracy and uphold human rights around the world. With contributions from the African Liberal Network (ALN); ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights (APHR); Council of Asian Liberal Democrats (CALD); Former MEPs Association; International Republican Institute (IRI); National Democratic Institute (NDI); National Endowment for Democracy (NED); Parliamentarians for Global Action; U.S. Former Members of Congress Association; and Women Political Leaders (WPL), several recommendations were produced, including the development of a Parliamentary Call for Global Democratic Renewal.
This global call, launched in coordination and with the support of the Forum 2000 Foundation and the International Coalition for Democratic Renewal, outlines actions parliamentarians can take to support the protection of democratic norms and human rights in their own legislatures and globally. These actions include addressing disinformation campaigns and the weaponization of social media, advancing the political inclusion of minorities and marginalized groups, encouraging accountable governance of the people through fair elections, and insisting on the safety of parliamentarians and civic activists who may be targeted for their efforts to uphold human rights.
To sign-on to the Parliamentary Call for Global Democratic Renewal, please email GlobalSignOn@ndi.org.
Parliamentary Call for Global Democratic Renewal
We, the undersigned parliamentarians, call upon our peers to take urgent action to defend democratic norms and values around the world. Increasingly, aggressive authoritarian regimes are tightening repression at home, while also seeking to expand their power abroad. In addition to using more traditional hard power mechanisms, authoritarian regimes are using a growing arsenal of “sharp power” tools, such as disinformation and computational propaganda, politically motivated investment strategies, and the use of corrupt practices to advance political influence. Increased authoritarian aggression must not go unchallenged.
At the same time, weakened democratic leadership and changing international democratic norms have also emboldened growing illiberalism in many countries around the world. Globalization, migration, and income inequality have heightened social tensions in many societies — tensions which authoritarian regimes have often sought to exacerbate to further weaken the global influence of democratic countries. Political leaders in democratic countries must redouble their efforts to counter growing intolerance, uphold international human rights, and work to counter the erosion of democratic norms.
To address global threats to democracy, the undersigned current and former members of parliament, call upon their global peers to urgently take the following actions:
- Counter authoritarian aggression and disinformation. Authoritarian aggression and hybrid warfare designed to undermine democracies, if allowed to go unchallenged, simply invites escalation. We call upon our peers to take protective and preventive actions to counter hostile information operations, cyber attacks, and the weaponization of social media, while protecting freedom of expression.
- Defend democratic norms and political inclusion. The democratic norms that have guided the international system since World War II are under systemic threat from authoritarian and illiberal actors, who are seeking to sow political division and fuel ethnic, religious, and racial tensions to cultivate illiberal responses. We call upon our peers to redouble efforts to defend liberal democratic norms and advance political inclusion, including values of multi-culturalism, and ethnic and religious tolerance. In particular, we call upon our peers to support the full inclusion of women and other historically marginalized groups in political life.
- Stand up for human rights and fight corruption and kleptocracy. Abuses of human rights and the erosion of ethical standards in democratic governments play into a false authoritarian narrative that all political systems are equally corrupt. We call upon our peers to hold accountable government officials, in their countries and abroad, who commit human rights violations or acts of corruption, or who benefit from money-laundering and tax evasion. We also encourage our peers to demand an end to attacks on parliamentarians and civic activists who are targeted for their efforts to uphold human rights and ethical standards in their countries.
- Secure genuine elections. We call upon our peers to ensure that elections are genuinely democratic by using their legislative, budgetary and oversight powers to:1) guarantee that election management bodies are politically impartial; 2) implement open electoral data principles to build public confidence; 3) combat disinformation; 4) make policy decisions about adopting electoral technologies and other procurements in an inclusive, transparent and accountable manner; and 5) establish political finance regimes that foster fair pluralist competition and allow for public monitoring of political finance.
- Insist on accountable government. We call upon our peers to encourage and support the strengthening of public institutions in order to promote government transparency and accountability. We also encourage our peers to use their legislative, budgetary, and oversight powers to ensure a foreign policy that differentiates between states and political leaders who abide by international democratic and human rights norms, and those who routinely violate these norms. Lastly, we encourage our peers to incorporate more constructive opposition relations, in addition to robust foreign assistance funding designed to improve democracy, human rights, and governance.
- Mobilize peers to advance democratic renewal. We call upon our peers to mobilize their colleagues in support of the aforementioned actions through such measures as: heightened advocacy within the parliament and at the international level; the formation of a democracy caucus or all-party group in parliament to promote global, democratic renewal; or support for democratic commitments and initiatives, such as the Prague Appeal for Democratic Renewal.
Democratic solidarity is essential in countering authoritarian aggression and promoting the growth of democratic values around the world. Together, through a unified effort, democratic renewal can be achieved.
Translated versions of the letter are available in Spanish and French below.
List of Signatories
Janar Akaev, Kyrgyzstan
Armando Daniel Armas Cuartin, Venezuela
Petra Bayr, Austria
Amina Balla Kalto, Niger
Bréhima Beredogo, Mali
Ito Bisonó, Dominican Republic
Jorge Cálix, Honduras
Suzi Carla Barbosa, Guinea-Bisau
Margareta Cederfelt, Sweden
Amadou Cissé, Niger
Haidara Aichata Cissé, Mali
Soumaila Cissé, Mali
M. Aliou Condéc, Guinee
Leila M. de Lima, Philippines
Aissata Touré Diallo, Mali
Zoumana Doumbia, Mali
Maimouna Drame, Mali
Ali Ehsassi, Canada
Rabi Dan Fari, Niger
Eglantina Gjermeni, Albania
Ana Gomes, Portugal
Aissata Haidara, Mali
Filip Kaczmarek, Poland
Emily Lau, Hong Kong
Barbara Lochbihler, Germany
Carolina Magdalene Maier, Denmark
Boubacar Maiga, Mali
Alkaida Mamoudou, Mali
Jean Wyllys Matos Santos, Brazil
Levy Nazare, São Tomé and Príncipe
Hryhoriy Nemyria, Ukraine
Antonio Rosario Niquice, Mozambique
Kasit Piromya, Thailand
Mark Pritchard, UK
Lia Quartapelle, Italy
Sandith Samarasinghe, Sri Lanka
Jose Manuel Sanches Tavares, Cabo Verde
Oyun Sanjaasuren, Mongolia
Brigitte Sansoucy, Canada
Charles Santiago, Malaysia
Aguissa Seydou Touré, Mali
Chung-kai Sin, Hong Kong
Kiat Sittheeamorn, Thailand
Mu Sochua, Cambodia
Eva Sundari, Indonesia
Amadou Thiam, Mali
Moussa Timbiné, Mali
Anita Vandenbeld, Canada
Abhisit Vejjajiva, Thailand
Emanuelis Zingeris, Lithuania
Szymon Ziółkowski, Poland