|Concert of Democracies|
Ligue des démocraties
Liga de las democracias
The member states of the Concert of Democracies.
|Headquarters:||Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland|
|Main languages:||English, French, Spanish ¹|
|Membership:||56 member states|
Sérgio Vieira de Mello
John S. McCain
- Treaty of Geneva:
March 30, 2005
|¹ Among the many languages and dialects used by the member states, English, French and Spanish is used as working languages. Important documents are translated into all of the organisation's official languages.|
The Concert of Democracies (also known as the League of Democracies) is an international organization whose stated aims are to strengthen security cooperation among the world’s liberal democracies and to provide a framework in which they can work together to effectively tackle common challenges - ideally within existing regional and global institutions, but if those institutions fail, then independently, functioning as a focal point for efforts to strengthen liberty under law around the world. It would serve as the institutional embodiment and ratification of the “democratic peace”.
The United Nations, the most important international organisation in the world, has been criticized numerous times as being too bureaucratic, too slow and too incompetent in solving urgent humanitarian or political crisis situations, examples being Rwanda, Darfur, solving the conflict between Israel and Palestine, Kosovo, Iraq.
The first steps towards the Concert of Democracies was the failure of the UN Security Council resolution authorizing the use of military force against Iraq on August 5, 2002, mainly due to the opposition from Russia, France and China. As a result, U.S. President John McCain, a critic of the handicap of the UN and a supporter of a "League of Democracies", met with the heads of government from several NATO countries, where a vote to intervene in Iraq succeeded. This allowed the inclusion of United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Poland, Denmark, Germany, Canada, Turkey, Norway, Belgium, The Netherlands, Romania and other non-NATO allies of the United States to assist in an invasion of Iraq. On December 16, he said that the coalition of nations that agreed at the NATO summit was part of a new "League of Democracies".
In 2004, McCain negotiated with democratic countries around the world, trying to get democratically elected governments to participate in an organisation in which only democracies could join, and which would be free from the problems that dictatorships has in the United Nations. On June 11-13, 2004, just after the G8 summit in Sea Island, Georgia, McCain and the heads of government of France, the United Kingdom, Germany, Brazil, Japan, Italy, Canada, Spain, Denmark, Norway and Sweden. At this summit, the participating countries agreed that they would continue negotiations for a organisation for Democracies, with a conference planned to take place within a year.
On February 15, 2005, the Conference on International Organization began in Geneva, Switzerland, attended by democratic governments involved in drafting the Charter of a Concert of Democracies. The League of Democracies officially came into existence on March 30, 2005 upon the ratification of the Treaty of Geneva by the attending governments, including three permanent members of the UN Security Council — France, the United Kingdom and the United States. The first meetings of the Concert of Democracies, with 49 nations represented, took place in Geneva between February 10-12, 2006.
The Charter for a Concert of Democracies
As a charter, it is a constituent treaty, and all members are bound by its articles. Furthermore, the Charter states that the obligations to the League of Democracies are to exist within regional and global institutions like the United Nations. However, should the UN of other organizations fail, the Concert of Democracies should function independently as a focal point for efforts to strengthen liberty under law around the world.
- 1. The Parties pledge never to use military force, and never to plan to use military force, against one other except in the event of a coup or revolution within a specified member nation.
- 2. The Parties commit to hold multiparty, free, and fair elections at regular intervals.
- 3. The Parties commit to uphold internationally recognized civil and political rights for all their citizens and to make these rights enforceable by an independent judiciary.
- 4. The Parties recognize that sovereign states have a responsibility to protect their own citizens from avoidable catastrophe - mass murder and rape, ethnic cleansing by forcible expulsion and terror, and deliberative starvation and exposure to disease - but that when they are unwilling or unable to do so, that responsibility must be borne by the international community.
- 5. The Parties undertake to contribute to the further development of peaceful and friendly international relations by promoting liberal democracy as a model of government and by bringing about a better understanding throughout the world of the principles upon which democratic institutions are founded.
- 6. The Treaty does not affect, and shall not be interpreted as affecting in any way, the rights and obligations under the U.N. Charter of the Parties which are members of the United Nations, or the primary responsibility of the Security Council for the maintenance of international peace and security.
- 7. Action pursuant to article four and consistent with the purposes of the United Nations, including the use of military force, may be approved by a two-thirds majority of the parties.
- 8. Action to enforce the purposes of the United Nations in the wake of a threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression, may be approved by a two-third majority of the parties.
The Concert of Democracies is ultimately governed by its 56 member states. However, the Charter of the Concert of Democracies, and other agreements, outline how decisions are to be made within COD. The senior permanent member of each delegation is known as the Permanent Representative and is generally a senior civil servant or an experienced ambassador (and holding that diplomatic rank).
The Concert of Democracies made during the signing of the Treaty of Geneva an agreement made with the United Nations, which allows them to use the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland as the organisation's headquarters.
Three official languages of the Concert of Democracies, used in intergovernmental meetings and documents, are English, French and Spanish, while the Secretariat uses two working languages, English and French.
The Democratic Council is the main deliberative assembly of the United Nations. It is composed of all 56 members, which sends delegations which participates in regular yearly sessions headed by the Secretary-General. All members have the opportunity to address the council. Traditionally, the Secretary-General makes the first statement.
Together the Permanent Members form the Democratic Council (DC), a body which meets together at least once a week and has effective political authority and powers of decision in the Concert. From time to time the Council also meets at higher levels involving Foreign Ministers, Defence Ministers or Heads of State or Government (HOSG) and it is at these meetings that major decisions regarding the Concert’s policies are generally taken. However, it is worth noting that the Council has the same authority and powers of decision-making, and its decisions have the same status and validity, at whatever level it meets. Summits also form a further venue for decisions on complex issues, such as enlargement.
When the Council votes on important questions, a two-thirds majority of those present and voting is required. Each nation represented at the Council table or on any of its subordinate committees retains complete sovereignty and responsibility for its own decisions. Examples of important questions include: recommendations on peace and security; admission, suspension, and expulsion of members; decisions on whether to intervene politically or militarily, impose sanctions; and budgetary matters. All other questions are decided by majority vote. The Council may make recommendations on matters regarding freedom, human rights and democracy to the UN, as the Charter specifies.
The COD Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General, assisted by a staff of international civil servants worldwide. It provides studies, information, and facilities needed by the Democratic Council for their meetings, and as well the United Nations, to which most of the time it is subordinated. It also carries out tasks as directed by the Democratic Council. The Charter for a Concert of Democracies provides that the staff be chosen by application of the "highest standards of efficiency, competence, and integrity," with due regard for the importance of recruiting on a wide geographical basis.
The Charter provides that the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any authority other than the COD unless other specified. Each COD member country is enjoined to respect the character of the Secretariat and not seek to influence its staff. The Secretary-General alone is responsible for staff selection.
The Secretary-General's duties include promoting the values of freedom and democracy worldwide, organizing international conferences, administering military/peacekeeping operations and political decisions by the Democratic Council should the UN of other organizations fail, gathering information on the implementation of Democratic Council (and UN Security Council) decisions, and consulting with member governments regarding various initiatives. The Secretary-General may bring to the attention of the Democratic Council any matter that, in his or her opinion, may threaten international peace, security and strengthen liberty under law around the world.
The Secretariat is headed by the Secretary-General, who acts as the de facto spokesman and leader of the COD. The Secretary-General is appointed for a four-year term, with a two term limit. The current Secretary-General is Sérgio Vieira de Mello of Brazil. Former President of the United States John McCain will take over as Secretary-General on March 30, 2009.
The position is defined in the COD Charter as the organization's "chief administrative officer", but the Charter also states that the Secretary-General can bring to the Democratic Council's attention "any matter which in his opinion may threaten the international peace, security, freedom and democracy". The position has a dual role of an administrator of the COD organization, and a diplomat and mediator addressing disputes between nations and to global issues when the United Nations is unable to act or unaware of an situation.
The Secretary-General is appointed by the Democratic Council, after being nominated by one of the member states. All nations can name their candidate for the post. There are no specific criteria for the post, but it is generally accepted that the post shall be appointed based on geographical rotation.
Role of NATO
As the COD is obligated to exist within regional and global institutions like the United Nations under normal circumstances, this also applies to NATO within the COD. Since the establishment of the Concert of Democracies the NATO alliance has had an important role, due to the fact that all members of NATO also are members or applying for membership in the Concert of Democracies. However, the North Atlantic Charter only applies for NATO member states, and thus does not apply for those nations who are members of the COD, but not NATO. For example, while NATO members are obliged to assist the United States in the War on Terrorism due to the invocation of Article V of the North Atlantic Charter, non-NATO members like Brazil, Sweden or Japan are obliged to support NATO due to their membership in the COD, unless an agreement between the two parties has been made.
As a result, NATO has operated under a COD mandate in several international operations. In 2006, the operation to stop the genocide by the Sudanese government in Darfur (Operation Infinite Justice) was led by troops of NATO members, commanded by NATO under a mandate of the Concert of Democracies.
With the addition of Albania, Afghanistan and Iraq on April 5, 2009, there are currently 55 member states of the Concert of Democracies.
- Note: Member states with background color and bold font are original members.
|Member state||Date of admission||Head of government at admission||Current Head of government||Notes|
|Argentina||2005-03-30||Néstor Kirchner||Cristina Fernández de Kirchner|
|Australia||2005-03-30||John Howard||John Howard|
|Austria||2005-03-30||Wolfgang Schüssel||Werner Faymann|
|Belgium||2005-03-30||Guy Verhofstadt||Herman Van Rompuy|
|25pxBrazil||2005-03-30||Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva||Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva|
|Bulgaria||2005-03-30||Simeon Sakskoburggotski||Sergei Stanishev|
|Canada||2005-03-30||Paul Martin||Stephen Harper|
|Chile||2005-03-30||Ricardo Lagos||Michelle Bachelet (2006 - 2010)|
|Colombia||2005-03-30||Álvaro Uribe Vélez||Álvaro Uribe Vélez|
|Costa Rica||2005-03-30||Abel Pacheco||Óscar Arias|
|Croatia||2005-03-30||Ivo Sanader||Ivo Sanader|
|Czech Republic||2005-03-30||Stanislav Gross||Mirek Topolánek|
|Denmark||2005-03-30||Anders Fogh Rasmussen||Lars Løkke Rasmussen|
|Estonia||2005-03-30||Juhan Parts||Andrus Ansip|
|Germany||2005-03-30||Gerhard Schröder||Angela Merkel|
|Greece||2005-03-30||Kóstas Alexándrou Karamanlís||Kóstas Alexándrou Karamanlís|
|Finland||2005-03-30||Matti Vanhanen||Matti Vanhanen|
|France||2005-03-30||Jacques Chirac||Nicolas Sarkozy|
|Hungary||2005-03-30||Ferenc Gyurcsány||Ferenc Gyurcsány|
|Iceland||2005-03-30||Halldór Ásgrímsson||Geir Haarde|
|India||2005-03-30||Manmohan Singh||Manmohan Singh|
|Indonesia||2005-03-30||Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono||Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono|
|Ireland||2005-03-30||Patrick Bartholomew Ahern||Brian Cowen|
|Italy||2005-03-30||Silvio Berlusconi||Silvio Berlusconi|
|Israel||2005-03-30||Ariel Sharon||Benjamin Netanyahu|
|Japan||2005-03-30||Jun'ichirō Koizumi||Taro Aso|
|Latvia||2005-03-30||Aigars Kalvītis||Ivars Godmanis|
|Lithuania||2005-03-30||Algirdas Brazauskas||Andrius Kubilius|
|Liechtenstein||2005-03-30||Otmar Hasler||Otmar Hasler|
|Luxembourg||2005-03-30||Jean-Claude Juncker||Jean-Claude Juncker|
|Mexico||2005-03-30||Vicente Fox Quesada||Felipe de Jesus Calderón Hinojosa|
|Mongolia||2005-03-30||Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj||Sanjaagiin Bayar|
|Netherlands||2005-03-30||Jan Peter Balkenende||Jan Peter Balkenende|
|New Zealand||2005-03-30||Helen Clark||John Key|
|Norway||2005-03-30||Kjell Magne Bondevik||Jens Stoltenberg|
|Panama||2005-03-30||Martín Torrijos||Martín Torrijos|
|Peru||2005-03-30||Alejandro Toledo||Alejandro Toledo|
|Poland||2005-03-30||Marek Belka||Donald Tusk|
|Republic of Korea||2005-03-30||Roh Moo-hyun||Lee Myung-bak|
|Romania||2005-03-30||Călin Popescu-Tăriceanu||Emil Boc|
|South Africa||2005-03-30||Thabo Mbeki||Kgalema Motlanthe|
|Sweden||2005-03-30||Göran Persson||Fredrik Reinfeldt|
|25pxSwitzerland||2005-03-30||Samuel Schmid||Hans-Rudolf Merz|
|Slovenia||2005-03-30||Janez Janša||Borut Pahor|
|Slovakia||2005-03-30||Mikuláš Dzurinda||Robert Fico|
|Turkey||2005-03-30||Recep Tayyip Erdoğan||Recep Tayyip Erdoğan|
|United Kingdom||2005-03-30||Tony Blair||Tony Blair|
|United States||2005-03-30||John McCain||same|
|Uruguay||2005-03-30||Tabaré Vázquez||Tabaré Vázquez|
|Ghana||2007-04-10||John Kofi Agyekum Kufuor||John Atta-Mills||First expansion|
|Georgia||2007-04-10||Zurab Noghaideli||Grigol Mgaloblishvili||First expansion|
|Montenegro||2007-04-10||Milo Đukanović||Milo Đukanović||First expansion|
|Ukraine||2007-04-10||Viktor Yushchenko||Viktor Yushchenko||First expansion|
|Afghanistan||2009-04-05||Hamid Karzai||Hamid Karzai||Second expansion|
|Albania||2009-04-05||Sali Berisha||Sali Berisha||Second expansion|
|25pxIraq||2009-04-05||Nouri al-Maliki||Nouri al-Maliki||Second expansion|
Future expansion is currently a topic of debate in many countries that has introduced democratic reforms, freedom of speech and free and open elections. Bosnia and Herzegovina and Thailand has applied for membership, pending decision at the COD summit in Zurich, Switzerland in 2009. Other countries which have a stated goal of eventually joining include Cuba, Kenya, Liberia, Lebanon, F.Y.R.O.M., Kosovo and Greenland.
List of officials
|1||Sérgio Vieira de Mello||25px Brazil||March 30, 2005 — March 30, 2009|
|2||John S. McCain||United States||March 30, 2009 — Present|
|1||Alessandro Minuto Rizzo||Italy||March 30, 2005 — August 11, 2007|
|2||Dominique de Villepin||France||August 12, 2007 — Present|