On february 1-3rd, the ILRS EC met in Tunis, combining an EC meeting with visits with local democracy activists and comrades, by invitation from the Ennahda party. During the meeting, the ILRS EC released the following statement:
Statement from ILRS on
The path from dictatorship to democracy
Democracy is spreading in the world. Over the last few years several dictatorships in the Arab world have fallen, but alas, many are still standing. Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya were the first countries to challenge a system that has oppressed peoples in the Arab world for decades.
The ILRS is stressing that dictatorship is not only the responsibility of single dictators who have been able to oppress millions of individuals determined to embrace democracy. Dictatorship rests on limited degree of internal legitimacy, but relies heavily on external support from strong agents that help dictatorships survive and even prosper. Many Arab countries are still under dictatorship, and many countries in the world are still maintaining the economic and political system that keeps dictators in power. And few are brave enough to criticise the remaining dictators throughout the world who are still enjoying total impunity.
ILRS hereby issues a reminder to all political parties and governments that are committed to democracy and respect for human rights, that they may act in ways that will challenge dictatorships wherever they are. In particular the ILRS will stress the potential of cooperation, dialogue and exchange between civil society organisations, religious organisations and political parties as a means to support democratic change.
Viable democracy starts with democratic aspirations among ordinary men and women on the ground level, who via involvement in social movements, political parties and other civil society organisations are prepared to assume responsibility and build society. Regular elections on all levels in society are necessary in order to safeguard the legitimacy of the ones in power.
ILRS is exhorting all religious institutions to contribute to the challenge of spreading democracy and respect for Human Rights in the Arab world, and in all other parts of the world. Every human being is equal and born with a spark of the divine and full human dignity.
ILRS is reminding all agents in democracies that democracy is a long process of discussions and compromises. The winner of an election can’t act as if he or she is the sole decision maker, but has to rule in a way that step by step increases the legitimacy of democracy among all the people and not just his/her own voters or constituency. Hence, any living democracy, and new ones in particular, must establish regular vibrant and respectful dialogues between political parties, religious institutions, public institutions and civil society.
The toppled dictators in Arab countries thrived via support from many democracies. Now, these democracies have a particular responsibility to establish constructive cooperation and assistance with new democracies in areas like trade, academic exchange and industrial development.
ILRS Executive Committee,
Tunis February 3, 2013.