Against the backdrop of rapidly unfolding democratic developments in the Middle East and North Africa, 50 experts from Europe and North America meeting in Brussels last week expressed support for democratic reform movements and called on the transatlantic community to emphasize democracy assistance within the transatlantic relationship.
"The events in the Middle East and North Africa demonstrate once again that democracy and human rights are universal values, and all democracies share a responsibility to nurture democracy across borders and around the world,” said a statement from the participants in the Transatlantic Dialogue on Strengthening Cooperation on Democracy Support.
"Greater partnership and cooperation within the transatlantic community and beyond are essential in developing coordinated responses to emerging opportunities for democratization," the statement said. "The transatlantic community should elevate democracy assistance within the transatlantic relationship, including the necessary financial resources for this effort."
The conference, held March 13-15, was organized by NDI and hosted by the European Parliament. The dialogue began in June 2010 with an opening conference in Washington, D.C. It is co-chaired by Jerzy Buzek, president of the European Parliament; Madeleine K. Albright, former U.S. secretary of state and chairman of NDI; Javier Solana, former EU high representative for the common foreign and security policy, and Vin Weber, former U.S. representative and board member of the National Endowment for Democracy.
Participants in the dialogue included several former heads of government and foreign ministers, current and former administration officials and parliamentarians, the heads of leading U.S. and European democracy organizations, as well as a number of opinion leaders and academics who specialize in democracy issues.
In addition to discussing greater coordination between Europe and the United States on democracy support, the dialogue reviewed a series of working papers commissioned specifically for the conference. The papers explored how approaches to democracy support must continue to adapt in response to a rapidly evolving world. Issues on the table included the role of rising democratic powers in providing democracy support, the impact of information and communications technology on democratic development, and the need for democratic and socio-economic development assistance to be more mutually reinforcing. The conference also drew on a number of separate meetings, including a roundtable discussion held in February between representatives of the transatlantic dialogue and emerging democratic powers.
The conference concluded with a public discussion on democracy support in the transatlantic relationship attended by representatives from the Brussels diplomatic and policy communities. The event was moderated by Thomas Carothers, vice president for studies at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a panel that included Buzek, Albright, Weber and former Prime Ministers Joe Clark of Canada and Kjell Magne Bondevik of Norway.
The dialogue plans to release a report in the coming weeks summarizing the conclusions from its discussions over the last two years. The dialogue is made possible through support from the European Commission, the National Endowment for Democracy, the German Marshall Fund, the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, the European Partnership for Democracy and the European Parliament’s Office for the Promotion of Parliamentary Democracy. Additional support for the public event was provided by the U.S. Mission to the European Union and Carnegie Europe.
- Watch video highlights and interviews from the Brussels conference »
- Transatlantic dialogue seeks to strengthen cooperation on democracy support»
- NDI hosts democracy support roundtable with emerging powers»
- Our perspectives: Assisting democracy abroad – American values, American interests»
Pictured above: Javier Solana speaks at the dialogue in Brussels with, to his right, Vin Weber, and to his left, Jerzy Buzek, Madeleine Albright and Ken Wollack, president of NDI.
Published March 23, 2011