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U.S. Department of State
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Press Statement by James P. Rubin, Spokesman
April 25, 2000

U.S. Applauds Decision by the United Nations Commission
On Human Rights To Pass a Resolution on the Right to Democracy

The following statement was issued by Harold Hongju Koh, Assistant Secretary of State for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, and Amb. Nancy Rubin, U.S. Ambassador to the UN Commission on Human Rights, at the Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, in response to the decision of the Commission to pass a Romanian-sponsored resolution on the right to democracy.

"On March 24, while addressing the first United Nations Commission on Human Rights of the millennium, Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright called upon all Commission members to support a Romanian-sponsored resolution reaffirming the fundamental link between democracy and human rights. Today, one month later, the Commission heeded her call by unanimously adopting the Romanian resolution."

"By its action today, the Commission has reaffirmed, for the second consecutive year, the indissoluble link between democracy and human rights as a critical element of the Commission's work. The resolution reaffirms that member states have a solemn responsibility to promote and protect human rights by working together to consolidate democracy. The resolution also confirms that democracy is not a regional value nested in any particular social, cultural, or religious tradition, but rather a universal value rooted in the rich and diverse nature of the community of democracies."

"The Romanian resolution reinforces and expands upon last year's U.S.-sponsored resolution on the right to democracy, which also passed unanimously. The U.S. co-sponsored this year's resolution with sixty other governments, a number of which only recently joined the community of democracies. This year's resolution passed 45 to 0: Bhutan, Congo, Pakistan, Qatar, Rwanda, and Sudan abstained, joining China and Cuba, who abstained for a second consecutive year. As Assistant Secretary Koh noted, this is 'a genuinely global initiative, developed through a genuinely global process, arising from a powerful global consciousness about the indissoluble link between democracy and human rights.' Before passage, the Commission defeated a series of amendments introduced by the Government of Cuba to eviscerate the resolution."

"The resolution lays the groundwork for a series of important ministerial-level meetings that will bring together democratic nations to discuss how they can together promote and support democracy. These include the Community of Democracies meeting in Warsaw, Poland, in June, and the new and emerging democracies meeting set for Cotonou, Benin, in December. The millennium meeting of the UN General Assembly, scheduled to take place in New York in September, also should address this important issue."

"The United States congratulates the Government of Romania for its hard work in securing passage of this important resolution. Their strong commitment to democracy--and that of their cosponsors--demonstrates their belief that sustained Commission action can promote peaceful transitions to democracy."

"To be sure, democratization is a long and complex struggle, which does not come easily. Government 'of the people' cannot be imposed from the outside. Rather, countries must come to democracy by their own path. As Secretary Albright noted when she addressed the Commission, 'Democracy is the single surest path to the preservation and promotion of human rights.'"

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