Mezinárodní koalice pro demokratickou obnovu

The Prague Appeal for Democratic Renewal

Adopted in Prague on May 26, 2017

Liberal democracy is under threat, and all who cherish it must come to its defense.

Democracy is threatened from without by despotic regimes in Russia, China, and other countries that are tightening repression internally and expanding their power globally, filling vacuums left by the fading power, influence, and self-confidence of the long-established democracies. The authoritarians are using old weapons of hard power as well as new social media and a growing arsenal of soft power to create a post-democratic world order in which norms of human rights and the rule of law are replaced by the principle of absolute state sovereignty.

Democracy is also being threatened from within. Illiberalism is on the rise in Turkey, Hungary, the Philippines, Venezuela, and other backsliding democracies. In other countries - even long-established democracies - support for liberal democracy has eroded in recent years, especially among younger people who have no memory of the struggles against totalitarianism. Faith in democratic institutions has been declining for some time, as governments seem unable to cope with the complex new challenges of globalization, political processes appear increasingly sclerotic and dysfunctional, and the bureaucracies managing both national and global institutions seem remote and overbearing. Compounding the difficulties, terrorist violence has created a climate of fear that is used by despots and demagogues to justify authoritarian power and restrictions on freedoms.

Such problems have caused widespread anxiety, hostility to political elites and cynicism about democracy – feelings that have fueled the rise of anti-system political movements and parties. These sentiments, in turn, have been stoked and inflamed by authoritarian disinformation, which increasingly penetrates the media space of the democracies. The latest Freedom House survey shows that political rights and civil liberties have been on the decline for eleven consecutive years, and this year established democracies dominate the list of countries suffering setbacks in freedom.

Collectively, these factors – the geopolitical retreat of the West, the resurgence of authoritarian political forces, the erosion of belief in democratic values, and the loss of faith in the efficacy of democratic institutions – have brought a historic halt to democratic progress and threaten a possible “reverse wave” of democratic breakdowns. Democracy’s supporters must unite to halt the retreat and to organize a new coalition for its moral, intellectual, and political renewal.

The starting point of a new campaign for democracy is a reaffirmation of the fundamental principles that have inspired the expansion of modern democracy since its birth more than two centuries ago. These principles are rooted in a belief in the dignity of the human person and in the conviction that liberal democracy is the political system that can best safeguard this dignity and allow it to flourish. Among these principles are fundamental human rights including the basic freedoms of expression, association, and religion; political and social pluralism; the existence of a vibrant civil society that empowers citizens at the grass roots; the regular election of government officials through a truly free, fair, open, and competitive process; ample opportunities beyond elections for citizens to participate and voice their concerns; government transparency and accountability, secured both through strong checks and balances in the constitutional system and through civil society oversight; a vigorous rule of law, ensured by an independent judiciary; a market economy that is free of corruption and provides opportunity for all; and a democratic culture of tolerance, civility, and non-violence.

These principles are being challenged today not only by apologists for illiberalism and xenophobia, but also by relativist intellectuals who deny that any form of government can be defended as superior. Although democracy is often considered a Western idea, its most fervent defenders today are people in non-Western societies who continue to fight for democratic freedoms against daunting odds. Their struggles affirm the universality of the democratic idea, and their example can help bring about a new birth of democratic conviction in the world’s advanced democracies.

Despite its intrinsic value, democracy’s survival cannot be assured unless it can demonstrate its ability to help societies meet the challenges of a changing and unstable world. We acknowledge the deep anxiety and insecurity of large segments of democratic societies and believe that democracy will be strong only if no group is left behind.

While democracy embodies universal values, it exists in a particular national context, what Vaclav Havel called the “intellectual, spiritual, and cultural traditions that breathe substance into it and give it meaning.” Democratic citizenship, rooted in such traditions, needs to be strengthened, not allowed to atrophy in an era of globalization. National identity is too important to be left to the manipulation of despots and demagogic populists.

The defense of democratic values is not a luxury or a purely idealistic undertaking. It is a precondition for decent, inclusive societies; the framework for social and economic progress for people throughout the world; and the foundation for the preservation of international peace and security.

A new Coalition for Democratic Renewal will serve as a moral and intellectual catalyst for the revitalization of the democratic idea. The goal is to change the intellectual and cultural climate by waging a principled, informed, and impassioned battle of ideas; defending democracy against its critics; working to strengthen mediating institutions and civil associations; and fashioning persuasive arguments for liberal democracy that can shape the course of public discussion. It will also be necessary to go on the offensive against the authoritarian opponents of democracy by demonstrating solidarity with the brave people who are fighting for democratic freedoms, and by exposing the crimes of kleptocrats who rob and oppress their own people, falsify the political and historical record, and seek to divide and defame established democracies.

The Coalition will also be a broad and interactive forum for the exchange of ideas about the best ways to address complex new challenges facing democracy such as static or declining living standards for many citizens, the backlash against increased immigration, the rise of “post-truth politics” in an age of social media, and the erosion of support for liberal democracy. Such a global hub would also advocate and promote effective forms of action to revive faith in the efficacy of democratic institutions.

There is no excuse for silence or inaction. We dare not cling to the illusion of security at a time when democracy is imperiled. The present crisis provides an opportunity for committed democrats to mobilize, and we must seize it.

List of Signatories

Mike Abramowitz, USA
Alina Aflecailor, Romania 
Sohrab Ahmari, USA
Milos Alcalay, Venezuela
Svetlana Alexievich, Belarus
Tutu Alicante, Equatorial Guinea
Leila Alieva, Azerbaijan
Abdulwahab Alkebsi, Yemen/USA
Mansoor Al-Jamri, Bahrain 
Maryam Al-Khawaja, Bahrain
Hajar Al-Kuhtany, Iraq
Manal Al-Sharif, Saudi Arabia
William J. Antholis, USA
Anne Applebaum, USA
Antonio Argenziano, Italy
Lucia Argüellová, Slovakia
Fredo Arias-King, Mexico/Czech Republic
Oscar Arias Sánchez, Costa Rica
Bernard Aronson, USA
Gustavo Tovar Arroyo, Venezuela
Brian Atwood, USA
Shlomo Avineri, Israel
Rachel Azaria, Israel
Péter Balász, Hungary
Leszek Balcerowicz, Poland
Thierno Balde, Guinea
Peter Bartram, Denmark
Youssef Bassem, Egypt
Paul Berman, USA
Tom Bernstein, USA
Ales Bialiatski, Belarus
John Biehl del Río, Chile
Sergio Bitar, Chile
Igor Blaževič, Czech Republic
Antony J. Blinken, USA
Gerardo Bongiovanni, Argentina
Ernesto Borda, Colombia
Ladan Boroumand, Iran /France
Darko Brkan, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Tania Bruguera, Cuba
Andreas Bummel, Germany
Henrique Burnay, Portugal
Martin Bútora, Slovakia
Kim Campbell, Canada
Juan Pablo Cardenal, Spain
John Carlson, USA
Thomas Carothers, USA
Scott Carpenter, USA
Jean-Claude Casanova, France
Jorge Castañeda, Mexico
Paul Cliteur, Netherlands
Ketevan Chachava, Georgia
Armando Chaguaceda, Mexico
Carlos Fernando Chamorro, Nicaragua
Cristiana Chamorro, Nicaragua
Kinman Chan, Hong Kong
Glanis Changachirere, Zimbabwe
Tan-Sun Chen, Taiwan
Lee Cheuk-yan, China
Maria Chin Abdullah, Malaysia
David Clark, UK
Ana Marietta Colanzi, Bolivia
J. Michael Cole, Canada/Taiwan
Suzan Corke, USA
Irwin Cotler, Canada
Regina Coyula, Cuba
Manuel Cuesta Morúa, Cuba
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, India/Tibet
Vanessa D'Ambrossio, San Marino
Tom Daly, Australia
Wang Dan, Taiwan
Michael Danby, Australia
Jhanisse V. Daza, Bolivia
Frederik Willem de Klerk, South Africa 
Rafael Marques de Morais, Angola
Liliana De Riz, Argentina
Ronald Deibert, Canada
James Denton, USA
Neelam Deo, India
Dieter Dettke, Germany
Zviad Devdariani, Georgia
Larry Diamond, USA
Nadia Diuk, USA
Eileen Donahoe, USA
Han Dongfang, China
Oleksandra Drik, Ukraine
Edipcia Dubón, Nicaragua
Brigitte Dufour, Belgium
Rafał Duthiewicz, Poland
Andrej Dynko, Belarus
Mustafa Dzhemilev, Ukraine
Shirin Ebadi, Iran
Wolfgang Eichwede, Germany
Norman Eisen,USA
Jørgen Ejbøl, Denmark
Nidhi Eoseewong, Thailand
João Carlos Espada, Portugal
Gareth Evans, Australia
Nino Evgenidze, Georgia
Carlos Fara, Argentina
Ibrahim Faruk, Nigeria
Sergio Fausto, Brazil
Lee Feinstein, USA
José Daniel Ferrer, Cuba
Alejandro Foxley, Chile
Ford Fu-Te Liao, Taiwan
Ralf Fücks, Germany
Francis Fukuyama, USA
Cynthia Gabriel, Malaysia
William Galston, USA
Sumit Ganguly, India
Monika Garbačiauskaitė-Budrienė, Lithuania
Timothy Garton Ash, United Kingdom
Chito Gascon, Philippines
Ruth Gavison, Israel
Richard Gere, USA
Carl Gershman, USA
Eka Gigauri, Georgia
John Githongo, Kenya
Ken Godgrey, UK/Belgium

Ana Gomes, Portugal
Julio Roberto Gomez, Colombia
René Gómez Manzano, Cuba
Michel Gourary, Israel
Leonid Gozman, Russia
Paul Graham, South Africa
Vartan Gregorian, USA
Chen Guangcheng, China
Borys Gudziak, Ukraine
Antonio Guedes, Spain
Ashok Gurung, Nepal
Emmanuel Gyimah-Boadi, Ghana
Chaibong Hahm, South Korea
Ensaf Haidar, Saudi Arabia
Barbara Haig, USA
Martin Hála, Czech Republic
Tomáš Halík, Czech Republic
Amr Hamzawy, Egypt
Husain Haqqani, Pakistan
Miklos Haraszti, Hungary
Robert Hardh, Sweden
Bambang Harymurti, Indonesia
Ivan Havel, Czech Republic
István Hegedüs, Hungary
Mall Hellam, Estonia
Alberro Hernán, Argentina
Yevhen Hlibovytsky, Ukraine
Agnieszka Holland, Poland
Szu-chien Hsu, Taiwan
Anwar Ibrahim, Malaysia
Maiko Ichihara, Japan
Hasler Iglesias, Venezuela
Toomas Hendrik Ilves, Estonia
Ramin Jahanbegloo, Iran/Canada
Edmundo Jarquín, Nicaragua
Leszek Jażdżewski, Poland
Daniel Jositsch, Switzerland
Chee Soon Juan, Singapore
Kornely Kakachia, Georgia
Archil Kanchaveli, Georgia
Nataša Kandić, Serbia
Vladimir Kara-Murza, Russia
Rinsola Kareemat Abiola, Nigeria
Tawakkol Karman, Yeman
Garry Kasparov, USA/Russia
Hisham Kassem, Egypt
Felipe Kast, Chile
Mikhail Kasyanov, Russia
Janos Kenedi, Hungary
Zoltán Kész, Hungary
Tinatin Khidasheli, Georgia
Maina Kiai, Kenya
James Kirchick, USA
Jakub Klepal, Czech Republic
Ondřej Klimeš, Czech Republic
Bassma Kodmani, Syria/France
Prajak Kongkirati, Thailand
Givi Korinteli, Georgia
Bernard Kouchner, France
David Kramer, USA
Ivan Krastev, Bulgaria
Enrique Krauze, Mexico
Péter Krekó, Hungary
Batu Kutelia, Georgia
Ko Bo Kyi, Burma
Bolívar Lamounier, Brazil
Vytautas Landsbergis, Lithuania
Walter Laqueur, USA
Arthur Larok, Uganda
Nathan Law, Hong Kong
Sook-Jong Lee, South Korea
Bernard-Henri Lévy, France
Miriam Lexman, Slovakia
Šarūnas Liekis, Lithuania
Libby Liu, USA
Mario Vargas Llosa, Peru
Claudio Lodici, Italy
Katrin Loebel Radefeldt, Chile
James Loeffler, USA
Olga Lomová, Czech Republic
Alex Magaisa, Zimbabwe/UK
Amichai Magen, Israel
Bálint Magyar, Hungary
Agon Maliqi, Kosovo
Anar Mammadli, Azerbaijan
Félix Maradiaga, Nicaragua
Will Marshall, USA
Myroslav Marynovych, Ukraine
Nyaradzo Mashayamombe, Zimbabwe
Radwan Masmoudi, Tunisia
Salvador Mauricio, Ecuador
Penda Mbow, Senegal
Merkus Meckel, Germany
Stefan Meister, Germany
Thomas O. Melia, USA
Dan Meridor, Israel
Stjepan Mesić, Croatia
Igor Merheim-Eyre, Slovakia
Adam Michnik, Poland
Ivan Mikloš, Slovakia
Robert C. Miller, USA
Emin Milli, Azerbaijan
Mikheil Mirziashvili, Georgia
Kadhim Mohsin, Iraq
Carlos Alberto Montaner, Cuba
Davood Moradian, Afghanistan
Vitaliy Moroz, Ukraine
Yascha Mounk, USA
Passy Mubalama, Democratic Republic of Congo
Giorgi Muchaidze, Georgia
Petr Mucha, Czech Republic
Yukti Mukdawijitra, Thailand
Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, Romania
Surendra Munshi, India
Igor Munteanu, Moldova
Cameron Munter, USA
Joshua Muravchik, USA
Ahmad Farouk Musa, Malaysia
Dino Mustafić, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Azar Nafisi, Iran

Moisés Naím, Venezuela
Andrew Nathan, USA
Mustafa Nayyem, Ukraine
Mesfin Negash, Ethiopia
Viengrat Nethipo, Thailand
Andrea Ngombet, Republic of the Congo
Ghia Nodia, Georgia
Andrej Nosov, Serbia
Suzanne Nossel, USA
Marcos Novaro, Argentina
Wai Wai Nu, Burma
Ayo Obe, Nigeria
Giorgi Oniani, Georgia
Barbara von Ow-Freytag, Germany
Ana Palacio, Spain
Martin Palouš, Czech Republic
Šimon Pánek, Czech Republic
Alberto Vergara Paniagua, Peru
Nadeem F. Paracha, Pakistan
Baia Pataraia, Georgia
Zygis Pavilionis, Lithuania
Puangthong Pawakapan, Thailand
Rosa Maria Payá, Cuba
Latinka Perović, Bosnia and Herzegovina
Andrea Peto, Hungary
Dimitrina Petrova, Bulgaria/UK
Ivan Pilip, Czech Republic
Laungaramsri Pinkaew, Thailand
Andrei Piontkovski, Russia/USA
Marc Plattner, USA
Serhii Plokhii, USA
Jerzy Pomianowski, Poland
Thitinan Pongsudhirak, Thailand
Rodger Potocki, USA
Arch Puddington, USA
Vesna Pusić, Croatia
Xiao Qiang, China/USA
Iveta Radičová, Slovakia
Sam Rainsy, Cambodia
Jorge Quiroga Ramírez, Bolivia
Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark
Mykola Riabchuk, Ukraine
Rafael E. Rincón-Urdaneta Z., Chile/Venezuela
David Riveros Garcia, Paraguay
Ronny José Rodríguez, Venezuela
Aziz Royesh, Afghanistan
Amnon Rubinstein, Israel
Jacques Rupnik, France
Christopher Sabatini, USA
Enrique Sáenz, Nigcaragua
Jorge Sahd, Chile
Walid Salem, Palestine
Gabriel Salvia, Argentina
Sima Samar, Afghanistan
Maia Sandu, Moldova
Elizardo Sánchez, Cuba
Yoani Sánchez, Cuba
George Sarpong, Ghana
Gulnara Shahinian, Armenia
Natan Sharansky, Israel
John Shattuck, USA
Lilia Shevtsova, Russia
Daniel Schueftan, Israel
Karel Schwarzenberg, Czech Republic
Slawomir Sierakowski, Poland
Vasil Sikharulidze, Georgia
James Smart, Kenya
Timothy Snyder, USA
Alexander Solovyev, Russia
Guy Sorman, France
Wole Soyinka, Nigeria    
Uffe Riis Sørensen, Denmark
Ambiga Sreenevasan, Malaysia
Daniel Stid, USA
Tamara Sujú, Venezuela
Jan Surotchak, USA
Jan Švejnar, Czech Republic
Marek Svoboda, Czech Republic
Zamira Sydykova, Kyrgyzstan 
Borys Tarasiuk, Ukraine
Nicolas Tenzer, France
Enrique ter Horst, Venezuela 
Vladimir Tismăneanu, USA/Romania
J. S. Tissainayagam, Sri Lanka
Valentina Troconis, Caracas
Daniel Twining, USA
Luis Ugalde, Venezuela
Eduardo Ulibarri, Costa Rica
Jon Ungphakorn, Thailand
Mario Valenti, Nicaragua
Rostislav Valvoda, Czech Republic
Álvaro Vargas Llosa, Peru
Franak Viacorka, Belarus
Joaquín Villalobos, El Salvador
Lavon Volski, Belarus
Konstantin von Eggert, Russia
Alexandr Vondra, Czech Republic
Gerhard Wahlers, Germany
Christopher Walker, USA
George Weigel, USA
Olin Wethington, USA
Leon Wieseltier, USA
Kenneth Wollack, USA
Joshua Wong, Hong Kong
Samuel Kofi Woods II, Liberia
Jetta Xharra, Kosovo
Jianli Yang, China/USA
Zili Yang, China
Richard Youngs, United Kingdom
Leyla Yunus, Azerbaijan
Yevgen Zakharov, Ukraine
Svitlana Zalishchuk, Ukraine
Nino Zambakhidze, Georgia
Yevgeny Zhovtis, Kazakhstan
Philip Zimbardo, USA
Min Zin, Burma
Emanuelis Zingeis, Lithuania
Michael Žantovský, Czech Republic
Pavilionis Žygimantas, Lithuania






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