Role of International Community in Promoting Democracy and the Rule of Law

The Role of the International Community

 in the Promotion of Democracy and the Rule of Law


Rome, 18thJuly 2003

 Paper presented to the round Table discussion organized by “No Peace without Justice” in cooperation with the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, with the high Patronage of the Italian Senate.

Date 18th July 2003


It is with great appreciation that I respond to your kind invitation to participate in this important discussion.

No one needs to be reminded that in more than one sense the world has been greatly interconnected. Therefore, causes, good and bad ones, if they are efficiently, suppressed in one country, they will convenient by the transfer their a spring-boards elsewhere and convey on their business, organized crime, Terrorism, and the sex trade move their executives in assets around for more conducive environments. Dictators who efficiently suppress internal dissent in a country, force it underground and abroad where it finds freedom of movement.

Just as the fortunate populations of the world through Globalization, multi-relations, and the International media, find access to world Market and a global constituency; the unfortunate populations of the world have global access to export their internal problems. Hence the phenomenon of International Terrorism, Illegal immigration, the dung population and trade and so on. The key to moted these problems, to discourage internal and external conflicts and to maximize International cooperation in the pursuit of peace, development and stability, is the prevalence of Good Governance. Good Governance is contingent upon three conditions: Participation, accountability and transparency. They can only be fulfilled by Democratic Rule. Democracy building and sustenance is an uphill undertaking. It is the most important challenge, which faces National Leadership in non-democratic communities. It requires a strong National and International alliance to defeat the obstacles and carry out the Democratic Revolution. The responsibility everywhere is National. But the International community may help or hinder the National enterprise. This dissertation is an argument for the Common Democratic Cause.

The Vindication of Democracy

The Nation-State was born in Europe after the peace of  Westphalia in 1648.

Western Society then witnessed three revolutions during the Eighteenth and Nineteenth centuries. They were:

  • cultural revolution witch affected Religious Reformation, free scientific and technological research, broadend the base of knowledge, and spread literacy
  • An Economic revolution witch created Modern Capitalism, harnessed the forces of Nature, and raised economic production to unprecedented levels.
  • A political Revolution, which freed society from dynastic authority, and created participatory, accountable Democratic Government.

Those developments created Modernity, and enabled Europe, through its various leading states, to conquer the World.

The Modern European Empires have fallen out among themselves and fought two World wars of unprecedented violence.

After the second World War (1939-45) they engaged in a process of decolonization. The transfer of power from colonial to nationalist rule took place within a democratic framework.

For various reasons, the post colonial Democratic systems have collapsed, India being the conspicuous exception. They were replaced by uni-party or military Regimes. In Southern Europe, Eastern Europe, Latin America, most of Asia, Africa, the Arab World, uniparty rule and military Regimes dominated the politics of Government. However, one by one, most of these areas witnessed the fall of dictatorship to be replaced by democratic systems of Government. The process is still far from complete. What should be done to promote it, and make it sustainable, especially in societies, which have, so far, shown resistance to democratic transformation?.

The National Democratic Constituency Expanded:

Colonial administration established modern economic, political and administrative structures to serve their own colonial interests. They emphasized the importance of administrative, defense and security mechanisms to help control the subjected societies.  The structures of civil society, namely modern non-governmental organizations, political parties and trade unions were seen as potential threat to colonial authority and so were treated with suspicion and hostility.

The winds of change associated with the  aftermath of the second World War, unleashed powerful internal and external forces of decolonization and National Liberation. As the modern European Empires accepted the inevitability of decolonization, they handed over power to National successive governments through democratic processes.

The following factors destabilized the Democratic Governments:

  • Colonial authority made no effort to modernize the structures of Traditional Society. Therefore, Tribal and Sectarian ascriptive structures remained intact. Their dynastic structures had no place for the politics of Democracy.
  • Western policy during the cold war noted the weakness of modern civil society organizations in post colonial societies, and the resistance of traditional structures to democratic change. They sought the establishment of stable political systems, which would support them in the cold war. They accepted the National armed forces as the most viable instrument of Modernization, the most likely provider of political stability, and the most trustworthy ally in the cold war. So much for Western support for Third -World Dictatorship.

The soviet pattern has essentially become a model for one party political leadership, a model for the late comers to economic development, a means to channel anti-Western resentment, and an example for the search for a better World. The intelligentsia in the post colonial countries have had no stomach for a democracy, which would empower illiterate masses and their dynastic leaders. They articulated their political aspirations through ideology, which promised a quick fix into such targets as: economic development, modernization, social justice and International search for better World Order.

Numerous ISMS sprouted to cater for these aspirations, which created and sustained Totalitarian systems. Although Islam as a Message expressed Political Principles, which called for participation, accountability and Transparency, Moslim practice has long eschewed these principles and through an unholy alliance between intellectual and religious stagnation, Political despotism and social injustice Moslim society plunged into decadence before contact with the colonial West. It is this pre-colonial decay, which turned the Western colonial venture which was initially a fiet of military and technological prowess into an intellectual and cultural walkover. For a proud people with a glorious past, this humiliation was one reason for a modern anti-Western syndrome. I say modern because there are other historical ones. Another modern reason for that syndrome is the various Western created and sustained conflicts like the usurpation of Palestine. This syndrome fueled various modern ideologies, which rejected the West and its political culture.

Baathist, Nassirist, Islamicist and Communist ideologies have agreed on one thing, namely, the rejection of Democracy. However, towards the last phase of the Twentieth century, several factors participated in a reexamination of these patterns:

Latin America, the home of the modern coup d’etat exhausted all the authoritarian slogans of Right and Left and came to realize that coup making simply undermines the basis of National armies, and corrupts National Politics.

The one-party systems have all failed to deliver on their promises. They have all exploded from within.

The death of the modern secularist ideologies, dissatisfaction with the modernization programs, and reaction to Western domination have combined, among other factors, to fuel a fundamentalist cultural and religious reaction. A reaction, which expressed itself in Terrorist Protest Movements, when in opposition. When it achieved power, it either established archaic dictatorship, like Taliban. or Fascist type Regimes like  the Sudan of the Nineties. The absurdity of this phenomenon either exposed itself to foreign intervention, or exploded from within.

The intelligentsia whose secularist ideologies failed them, and who were shocked by the absurd scenarios of the fundamentalist reaction whether in protest or in power, opted for democracy as the most acceptable alternative. They have come to realize that a rational system of government, which guarantees Human Rights and the Rule of Law, is the only guarantee for their own and the National interests.

Scores of fundamentalist thinkers and writers have awakened to the inevitable viciousness of despotic political systems, rediscovered the basic consistency of Democracy with the political principles of Islam, and so opted for Democracy.

The International Constituency for Democracy

Although the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was an important part of  the New World Order, as it shaped up during the second half of the forties, its objectives were compromised by cold war considerations, as the cold war ended, Human Rights considerations received greater prominence.

The mushroom growth of despotic regimes in many parts of the world, and the tragic abuse of Human Rights associated with their practices, led to the formation of numerous Non Governmental Organizations concerned with Human Rights violations.

The failure of Development strategies in many developing countries increased the prevalence of poverty. So many reasons have been sighted for that failure, among them wrong political priorities, mal-administration and corruption. They all revolve around the issue of bad governance.

Internal Conflicts, economic hardship and oppressive policies, have displaced so many peoples forcing them to seek legal and illegal immigration into more prosperous countries, the weakness of states has enabled drug gangs to engage in drug production and trade. In many ways, the underdeveloped World tended to export its problems to the developed World.

Good governance associated with Democracy has come to be seen as a necessary remedy for all these complaints. In its statement at the third Millenium, the UN for the first time acknowledged a commitment to the prevalence of Democracy.

Then came the cataclysmic events of 11th September 2001, they unleashed a Global war on Terrorism, and provoked great interest in its causes. One undoubted cause is oppressive government. The US has in the words of Richard Hass of the State Department, come to realize the necessity of Democracy in dictatorial countries, even if the elected government is unfriendly to the US.

A sea change from old times when Western opinion looked up to military regimes to modernize their countries and serve western interests, or to traditional oligarchies as reliable partners, at that time, the leader of the “Free World” had no stomach for elected leaders in the Third World because they tended to seek to base bilateral relations on a more equitable basis, and to mind the opinion of the electoral constituencies. All such complications were avoided by unelected rulers, who may sell out National interests without hesitation, theoretically, the case for Democracy World wide is now supreme. However, many obstacles make Democratic transformation and Democratic sustainability in non-democratic countries an uphill enterprise, which requires supreme National endeavors and powerful International support.


The Sources of Obstruction

There are five main ones:

The Closed-up Traditional Society: Numerous Tribal and sectarian structures monopolize the ascriptive loyalties of large sections of the population. They revolve around personal and dynastic authority, which tends to preserve their cohesion in terms of resistance to change. They constitute a built-in  encapsulation of the past and belie Modernization Programs.

Religious and Cultural Reaction: The expectation by the secularist ideologies of Right and Left that religious and Cultural beliefs and identities will be swept away is unfortunate and counter productive, Religious beliefs and cultural identities are highly tenacious. Attacking them simply produces fundamentalist reaction. The only rational alternative is to look up to Religious Reformation and Cultural Enlightenment.

Due to the dominant and enviable position of the West, Western attitudes and policies which may be characterized as hegemonous aggressive and ethnocentric encourage cultural and religious reaction in non-western societies.

The Negative effect of Poverty and Illiteracy:  The prevalence of poverty tends to prioritize the issues of economic development and supply of basic needs. The prevalence of illiteracy tends to narrow the popular constituency for democratic change. Both phenomena will be exploited by authoritarian demagogues against Democracy.

The Weakness of Civil Society: Just as it is necessary, to reform traditional institutions of civil society, all non-governmental modern civil institutions suffer from basic weaknesses of formation, administration and viability.

The Special Case of Political Parties and Trade Unions: The old colonial masters considered Political Parties and free Trade unions a threat to their authority, they did all that was necessary to discredit and marginalize them, while strengthening the institutions of administration, defense and security. Little wonder that the later have usurped the rights of the former when circumstances permitted. The successor dictatorial Regimes  continued the old colonial tradition towards political parties and Trade Unions, they had to sheepishly toe the line of the rulers or suffer the consequences. A strong party and  trade union system  is a precondition for viable democracy.

The Culture of Democratic Togetherness:

The Democratic Calling: It is necessary to issue a Universal Declaration for Democracy, which will recognize it as a Universal duty.

The Democratic Manifesto: It is necessary to define democracy, to banish all false claims, and to outline preconditions in terms of basic freedoms and free and fair elections, which constitute credible democracy.

A Comprehensive Program to deal with the obstacles.

A Program of Democratic Capacity Building: which should recognize the Democratic Political Parties in democratizing countries and offer them support in terms of:


Technical means of activity.

Schemes, which could help them achieve financial viability.

Enable them achieve media outreach.

Encouragement: The Nation States, which democratize should receive encouragement in terms of:

External dept forgiveness.

Greater direct investment.

Development aid.

Favorable Trade

Democracy Watch: Set up a body of democracy watch, which should closely monitor democratic developments to encourage them, and democracy setbacks to discourage them.

In this respect, it is necessary to monitor democracy violators, who usually commit Human Rights crimes, and prepare to bring them to International criminal justice.

UN Reform: seek democracy based UN reform by:

The developments of institutions which address the UN as a union of Nations not merely States.

Establish Democratic credentials for UN membership so that National Sovereignty is conditional upon real popular representation.

UN to create a special body to promote democracy.

Regional Democratic Forums: Encourage the formation of Regional Democratic Forums to facilitate cooperation between Democratic Political Parties and Democratic States.

Study and Research: Establish a democratic Institute to study and research the problems of Democracy to decimate knowledge about the various problems of democracy and how to resolve them. This institute may then establish branch Institutes in the various Regions to achieve regional focus.

International:  Establish a democracy International, whose membership will be open for all bona file Democratic Parties to act as a patron for democratic culture and a spring board for the Universal promotion of Democracy.



Al Sadig Al Mahdi

Elected President of Umma Party, April 2003.

Elected Imam of Al Ansar, December, 2002.

Last elected Sudanese Prime Minister, 1986.