|THE FORUM OF DEMOCRATIC LEADERS IN THE ASIA-PACIFIC|
Several world developments have occurred in the wake of the Cold War, as well as profound realizations about the nature of the world order in this period of rapid globalization. First, there had been a global acknowledgment in the legitimacy of Western liberal democracy. Second there has been a global trend towards the free market economic system. Finally, many nations which were previously oppressed from outside powers are gaining their independence and consequently are responsible for their sovereign governance.
However, despite the rapid proliferation of democratic values and institutions throughout the Asia-Pacific region, there are a considerable number of countries which remain under authoritarian, totalitarian and military dictatorships. Authoritarian leaders are quick to justify authoritarianism as compatible with Asian cultural and philosophical traditions, as well as a necessary condition for economic development.
We do not agree with these judgments. There are democratic values and institutions deeply rooted in Asia, both in Asia's ancient as well as recent history. furthermore, we believe democracy is a prerequisite to rapid economic development, contrary to the views of some naysayers and authoritarian leaders. For this reason, we are convinced that genuine democratic governance can be a reality throughout Asia.
First, democratic practices are rooted in ancient Asian philosophical traditions both Confucian and Buddhist philosophy have espoused democratic virtues and practices. Confucianism uphold many tenants regarding social and political virtue, and it is firmly grounded in the ideal that benevolent rulers ought to accept "the will of the people as the will of heaven." Buddhism has maintained that all life is equal, and that the democratic values of justice and liberty are necessary for the peace and welfare of all things in the universe. We believe that these philosophical traditions are at the root of the emerging democracy in Asia.
Second, there is a recent history of democratic practice in Asia. Both Japan and India have consistently practiced democratic government since World War ll. Other countries, despite occasional interruptions, have either restored or are in the process of restoring democratic rule. Many 'peoples' protest movements' in Asia's recent history prove that the democratic sentiment exists among Asian peoples.
Third democracy does not stifle economic growth, as some authoritarian leaders contend, but rather democratic government is a necessary condition in allowing full economic development and growth in the context of a global information society. Economic development is no longer tied solely to capital and labor, but is now increasingly dependent on communication, high technology and the free flow of ideas and creativity. Therefore, authoritarian government, which restricts and impedes the free flow of ideas and information, and stifles creativity and ingenuity, will constitute a serious retardant to economic growth.
Asia needs a new model and vision for a world order based on the notion of global democracy. Such a democracy must allow for the freedom of expression and the protection of the fundamental human rights of every man, woman and child. Our hope is the eventual expansion of the notion of democracy beyond the Western liberal practice and paradigm, which is based on the conception of the sovereign state, and where the rights of a nation's citizens are often given priority to acting in the spirit of human cooperation insure mutual welfare, liberty, justice and prosperity of all citizens from all nations, to the notion of a global democracy. It is our belief that a genuine global democracy is a necessary condition to guarantee the whole some existence and mutual welfare of all life in the world community.
It is with this hope and conviction that we hereby call for a Forum of Democratic Leaders in the Asia Pacific (FDL_AP) which will serve the Asian Pacific community by promoting democratic institutions and values, by offering an alternative democratic vision to authoritarian rule, and by consolidating international cooperation so that all peoples can freely participate and prosper in a global democracy.
The forum of Democratic Leaders in the Asia-Pacific (FDL- AP) is committed to supporting the democratic process, including all its necessary prerequisites, in the Asia-Pacific and beyond. Towards these ends, the FDL- AP is committed to serve as a forum of solidarity for democratic leaders, to promote a global civil society where all fundamental human rights are protected, and to work to establish a secure global democracy which guarantees the wholesome existence and mutual welfare of all life in the world community.
The FDL is committed to the promotion of democracy in the Asia Pacific and beyond. The FDL-AP believes that there is a democratic philosophy inherent to Asia which can be found in Buddhism, Confucianism and other indigenous religions and philosophies, as well as a historical practice of democracy. Moreover, democracy-which is dependent on human dignity, creativity and the free exchange of ideas-is critical to future development given the context of the information age. It is in this spirit that the FDL- AP will support the efforts and activities for genuine democratic change by individuals and organizations working in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond.
The FDL-AP will work to protect fundamental human rights in the Asia-Pacific region and beyond. Human rights are necessary condition for the peaceful transition from authoritarian to democratic government, as well as for the maintenance of democracy. Democracy guarantees certain civil rights and liberties. At the same time, democratic change occurs in an environment of great frustration and resentment, then such new found freedoms are sometimes used by people as an opportunity to express latent negative emotions in violent ways.
The FDL- AP will work to expose sources of injustice, as well as violations of fundamental human rights, which are committed under authoritarian regimes and request international sanctions against these violating regimes so that an environment of truth, justice and reconciliation, which is conducive to peaceful democratic change, may follow.
The FDL- AP is committed to building consciousness for and promoting the evolution of a global democratic tradition. Although the Western liberal notion of democracy has done much to pioneer and systematize the current institutional system of democracy, we believe that it contains inherent limitations. First it is based on the notion of the sovereign nation-state, in which democratic principles are protected domestically, but in which political agendas and national egos often times take precedence over international concerns. Second, it is based on a narrow human-oriented world view in which man is alienated from nature and the environment.
By Global democracy, we mean a comprehensive and global approach to the notion of democracy and peaceful coexistence. Democracy is based on the protection of fundamental rights, and includes the right to fully develop and cultivate one's humanity. However, global democracy ought not stop there, but extends to include the harmonious and interdependent relationship between man, nature and the environment; this includes the right of all living things to a wholesome existence, as well as our accountability to all future generations of the human family.
Therefore, to promote the evolution and realization of a global democracy, the FDL-Aš will support and sponsor academic exchanges, research projects as well as consolidate international cooperation with other NGOs, organizations and governments in the spirit of cooperation, to insure the mutual welfare and peaceful coexistence of all life in the global community, and the liberty and equality of all members of the human family.
The FDL-AP will encourage the solidarity and unity of democratic leaders. The FDL-AP will encourage and support of all democratic leaders- whether in political, military, non-governmental, academic, social, religious or economic circles-as a necessary condition to fulfill the first, second
and third previous objectives. To do this, the FDL-AP will support international conferences and forums and establish working groups and special committees to focus and research certain regional and global issues which affect or threaten democracy, development and fundamental human rights.
We shall not interfere with other nation's internal affairs, and shall exert our effort to achieve democracy through dialogue, debate and legal procedures.
We shall reject all acts of violence in the process of democratization, and shall pursue our dreams of democracy through peaceful means only.
3. Cooperation with Democratic Forces
We shall support and cooperate with all Asian peoples in the quest for democracy, achieved through the free expression of ideas and fair and just electoral processes.