Over 200 delegates representing diverse elements of the Iraqi opposition to the regime of Saddam Hussein convened the Iraqi National Congress in Vienna on 16-19 June 1992. Excerpts from the closing statement of the congress follow:
. . . The Congress acknowledged the diversity and plurality of Iraqi society while affirming the national unity of the Iraqi people. The Congress endorsed the total equality of all citizens including the people of Iraqi Kurdistan, recognizing their right to self-determination short of secession and within a unitary Iraqi state. . . .
The Congress also recognized the urgent need to relieve the oppression of the Arab Shi’ite majority through constitutional, democratic, and parliamentary practices. This practice of democracy was acknowledged as essential for the development and stability of the country. . . .
The Congress hailed the recent elections in Iraqi Kurdistan as an important step on the road to democratic change in Iraq, a change as crucial as the people’s need for bread. . . .
The delegates stated the period of office for any [Iraqi] transitional government should not exceed one year. They called for free elections to select a national Iraqi parliament following the end of the dictatorship. This parliament will draft a permanent constitution for Iraq based on the principle of the separation of powers and the independence of the judiciary, which has suffered from major transgressions and imbalances under the dictatorship.
The Congress affirmed the equality of Iraqi citizens before the law, and called for citizenship based on the positive values of patriotism, rejecting those factors which have tended to divide society on the basis of religion, ethnicity, and gender.
The Congress called for the respect of cultural plurality in Iraqi society and the need to eliminate the errant educational policy of the [End Page 134] regime through the dissemination of democratic values and their incorporation in educational policies.
The Iraqi opposition, in its confrontation with the dictatorial, totalitarian, and repressive regime, affirms its clear aim to build a democratic, parliamentary, and pluralistic government in partnership with Arabs, Kurds, and other minorities, with cultural allegiance to Islam and its higher principles, and with close relations to its Arab and Islamic environment.
The essence of Iraq’s political future is the removal of the harmful effects of dictatorship, the elimination of all systems of terror and repression, the establishment of a modern independent government with respect for Iraqi public opinion, the liberation of the individual from fear, and the establishment of the rule of law respecting human rights and basic freedoms while taking into consideration the special conditions of Iraq and benefiting from her Arab, Muslim, and international heritage.
President Boris Yeltsin of Russia and President George Bush of the United States signed a “Charter for American-Russian Partnership and Friendship” on 17 June 1992 in Washington, D.C. Excerpts relating to democracy from the charter appear below:
The United States of America and the Russian Federation . . .
Declaring their determination to observe strictly democratic principles and practices, including the rule of law and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities;
Recognizing the importance of the rights of the individual in building a just and prosperous society; . . .
Desiring to build a democratic peace that unites the entire community of democratic nations; . . .
Have established the following Charter for American-Russian Partnership and Friendship:
Democracy and Partnership
The United States of America and the Russian Federation reaffirm their commitment to the ideals of democracy, to the primacy of the rule of law, and to respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. The United States of America fully supports the Russian Federation’s efforts to build a democratic state and society founded on the rule of law and respect for fundamental human rights. Beginning with mutual trust and respect as the basis for their relations, they are developing relations of partnership and friendship.
The United States of America and the Russian Federation will [End Page 135] cooperate closely in the international arena in the interest of advancing and defending common democratic values and human rights and fundamental freedoms. . . .
The United States of America intends to continue cooperation toward strengthening democratic institutions and a rule of law state in Russia, including developing an independent judiciary and institutionalizing guarantees for respect of individual rights.
International Peace and Security
The United States of America and the Russian Federation reiterate their determination to build a democratic peace, one founded on the twin pillars of political and economic freedom. The United States of America and the Russian Federation recognize the critical importance that democracy’s success in Russia and the other former Soviet republics can have on international peace and security.
The United States of America and the Russian Federation, proceeding from the basis of mutual trust and respect and a common commitment to democracy and economic freedom . . . once again declare that they do not regard each other as adversaries and are developing relations of partnership and friendship. . . .
Beginning on the basis of their shared democratic values, the United States of America and the Russian Federation will unite in their efforts toward strengthening international peace and security, preventing and settling regional conflicts, and solving global problems. . . .
Noting the progress in the resolution of long-standing conflicts, promotion of democracy and human rights, and advancement of economic freedom and prosperity in vast areas of Latin America, Africa, and Asia, the United States of America and the Russian Federation stress the necessity to continue this process. Both sides are ready to contribute to tapping the new potential for peace, to putting an end to conflicts, to bolstering mutual confidence and trust, and to enhancing democracy-which forms the basis of an enduring peace in all parts of the world. . . .
Fidel Ramos was inaugurated as the twelfth president of the Philippines on 30 June 1992 (see David Timberman’s essay on pp. 110-24 above). Excerpts from his inaugural address appear below:
Over the last 94 years, 11 Filipino leaders before me have enacted this ceremony of democratic transition, which signifies for our Republic both continuity and a new beginning. This consecration of the presidency binds us to the past, just as it turns our hopes to the future.
My courageous predecessor, former president Corazon C. Aquino, [End Page 136] restored our civil liberties-and then defended them tenaciously against repeated assaults from putschists and insurgents. She has made our democracy a fortress against tyrants.
Now we must use it to enable our people to take control of their lives, their livelihood, and their future. To this work of empowering the people, not only in their political rights but also in economic opportunities, I dedicate my presidency. . . .
First, we must restore civic order. For without stability, businesses cannot run; workers cannot create wealth; liberty cannot flourish; and even individual life will be brutish and precarious. Then, we must make politics serve-not the family, the faction, or the party-but the nation. And we must restructure the entire regime of regulation and control that rewards people who do not produce at the expense of those who do, a system that enables persons with political influence to extract wealth without effort from the economy. . . .
Foremost among our concerns must be to bind the wounds of the election campaign and restore civility to political competition, for our people are wary of the intrigues and petty rivalries that have kept us down. I will continue to reach out to all groups and factions making up the political community as early as possible. I will consult with the leaders of the Senate and House of Representatives to work out the priorities of the legislative agenda.
I call on our mutinous soldiers and radical insurgents to give up their armed struggle. I will work with Congress in fashioning an amnesty policy that will enable errant reformists to reenter civil society. When the time is opportune, I also intend to ask Congress to convene itself as a Constituent Assembly for the purpose of amending the Constitution.
Let us strive to make our political system fairer to all and more representative of the vastness and variety of our country. Let us lay to rest all our enmities and our conflicts, and this once join together in the reform and renewal of our society. . . .
My administration will prove that government is not unavoidably corrupt-and that bureaucracy is not necessarily ineffective. Graft and corruption, we will confront more with action and results than with words. We will go after both the bribe-takers and the bribe-givers. The bigger the target, the greater will be government’s effort. We will prove that effective and efficient government is possible in this country. Not just in national administration, but in the governing of our local communities. . . .
In foreign relations, we shall strive to strengthen ties with old friends and trading partners, and we shall endeavor to develop new friendships. My government begins its term in a world transformed. The tide of freedom rising everywhere should help along in our efforts to make democracy work here at home. . . .
The Filipino state has historically required extraordinarily little of its [End Page 137] citizens, As individuals, we Filipinos acknowledge few obligations to national community. Yet if we are to develop, citizenship must begin to count more than ties of blood and kinship. Only with civic commitment does development become possible in a democratic society. . . .
Opposition to the authoritarian rule of Malawian president Hastings Kamuzu Banda has been growing. On 8 March 1992, the Roman Catholic bishops of Malawi called for greater freedoms in a pastoral letter that was read in every Catholic church in the country. Despite the detention and interrogation of bishops and other clerics, Catholic and Protestant groups have continued to press the regime for such reforms as the introduction of multiparty politics. Excerpts from the pastoral letter relating to political matters appear below:
Dear Brothers and Sisters, . . .
Freedom of Expression and Association
. . . Nobody should ever have to suffer reprisals for honestly expressing and living up to their convictions: intellectual, religious, or political.
We can only regret that this is not always the case in our country. We can be grateful that freedom of worship is respected; the same freedom does not exist when it comes to translating faith into daily life. Academic freedom is seriously restricted; exposing injustices can be considered a betrayal; revealing some of the evils in our society is seen as slandering the country; monopoly of mass media and censorship prevent the expression of dissenting views; some people have paid dearly for their political opinions; access to public places like markets, hospitals, bus depots, etc., is frequently denied to those who cannot produce a party card; forced donations have become a way of life.
This is most regrettable. It creates an atmosphere of resentment among the citizens. It breeds a climate of mistrust and fear. This fear of harassment and mutual suspicion generates a society in which the talents of many lie unused and in which there is little room for initiative.
We urgently call each one of you to respond to this state of affairs and work toward a change of climate. Participation in the life of the country is not only a right, it is a duty that each Christian should be proud to assume and exercise responsibly. People in positions of authority, in government and administration, have a particular duty to work for the restoration of a climate of trust and openness. However, participation will remain a fiction without the existence of adequate channels of expressions and actions and independent press, open forums [End Page 138] of discussion, free association of citizens for social and political purposes, and the like. . . .
A System of Justice which Works Fairly
. . . We cannot ignore or turn a blind eye to our peoples’ experience of unfairness and injustice, for example, those who, losing their land without fair compensation, are deprived of their livelihood, or those of our brothers and sisters who are imprisoned without knowing when their cases will be heard. . . .
We call upon all and particularly those responsible for the administration of justice to ensure not only that procedures are respected but also that impartial judgment is rendered to the accused person. . . .
On 8 February 1992, the Rio Group condemned the coup attempt against the Venezuelan government (see Michael Coppedge’s essay on pp. 32-44 above.) The foreign ministers of Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, Jamaica, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela met with President Carlos Andrés Pérez and issued the “Declaration of Caracas,” containing the passages quoted below:
The foreign ministers of the Rio Group, deeply concerned with the coup attempt and attack on the life of the Venezuelan president, voice our most absolute rejection of these facts which attempt to disrupt the current process of democratic consolidation in the Latin American and Caribbean region.
We express our strongest repudiation of these grave events that attempted to disavow the legitimacy of a government which was elected by the sovereign will of the people, and to disrupt the existing state of law.
We renew the commitment of our governments to defend human rights and representative democracy.
We stress the effective, immediate, and vigorous regional and international reaction to this attempt to subvert institutional and democratic order, which shows the strength of representative democracy in the region.
We also reiterate that any attack against democracy in a Latin American or Caribbean country constitutes an attack against the principles on which the solidarity of American states is based.
We express our sincere congratulations and great admiration of the noble Venezuelan people, the government of President Carlos Andrés Pérez, and the military and police forces for the calmness, courage, and efficacy with which they managed to preserve the democratic institutions. [End Page 139]