- The Washington Times - Monday, March 22, 2004

More than half a century ago, in the light of the horrors that caused World War II, the United Nations succeeded in ratifying the U.N. Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, giving concrete expression to the desire for a new kind of humanism. The United Nations set itself and all peoples of the world the target of globally promoting the rule of law and freedom for all men and women.

Now, in 2003, if we take stock impartially and honestly of what has been done, we will see that those good intentions have become largely redundant and perhaps not even worth the paper they are written on. We shall also see that the United Nations has been for decades, and it is still today, a victim of the game played by dictatorships (with Libya that last year was in charge of the Commission on Human Rights, where, session after session — with the firm backing of China, Cuba, Russia, Syria and other authoritarian regimes — is perpetuated the ritual of passing anti-Israeli resolutions, while, for example, Arab regimes have not been sanctioned for years) and its anachronistic procedures, starting with deciding who has the veto power, or for example the existence of political groups such as the Non Aligned Movement and the Organization of the Islamic Conference.

Everybody understands that there is a pressing need for reform of the United Nations, which too many observers and analysts want to base on various criteria such as the size of a country, its population, its gross national product and so forth, but not on the essential one. In our view, the only criterion worthy of serious consideration is and must be the “democracy parameter.”

If we look at things closely, the conduct of the Anglo-American alliance before, during and after the recent conflict in Iraq, and the setting up of the “coalition of the willing” alongside the Americans and British and the creation of a Democracy Group at the United Nations, should be seen as something positive, as a real turning-point and a historic opportunity for reforming the United Nations and bringing it back to the letter and spirit of its original charter. Starting from this nucleus of democratic countries, we must try to repeat the success of the WTO, or perhaps take a leaf out of the Council of Europe’s book, since a candidate’s entry into, and its lasting membership of, the European Union is indissolubly linked to the permanent existence in that country of precise democratic principles, levels and standards.

Just as there is a WTO that regulates commerce according to precise parameters, a WDO could be established to set various standards (based on those in the Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights) and to require member states to respect them, on pain of sanctions or expulsion. In substance, a country would have the right to “join the club” when it was able meet these stringent requirements and to remain a member for as long as and inasmuch as it continued to meet them, and not for one moment longer.

Let it be clearly understood that this is not “imposing or exporting Western values or models,” but working to remove all those obstacles that still greatly hinder the establishment of the individual’s right to freedom and democracy, namely those values and models that have inevitably been chosen throughout history by anyone who has been given the possibility of making informed, free choices. Thus, the world will finally be able to cast off, once and for all, its racist attitude and cease to believe that all this does not benefit the vast majority of men and women living in this world.

To achieve such ambitious and desirable goals, we cannot, however, expect the United States and the United Kingdom to take up this challenge alone, as has happened too many times in the history of our continent. .More particularly, Europe and European governments cannot continue, when faced with crises they cannot or will not deal with, to make U.S. governments a scapegoat for its own impotence. It cannot go on saying that when America does intervene it is being “imperialist” or is doing it for the “oil,” and when it does not that it is being “isolationist” or refraining “because there is no oil.”

After September 11, the celebrated editor of the French daily Le Monde, Jean-Marie Colombani, wrote, “We must support the United States, in the hope that they will change.” The time has come to refute this argument: We must support — and sometimes criticize — the U.S. foreign policy in the promotion of democracy and human rights in the hope that European governments also will choose such issues as their priorities.

It is time to realize that at a political, economic and juridical level, and with regard to creating both responsible and creative free societies and individuals, Continental Europe could learn a lot from the British and American model and should seek to apply it. The time has come to create a United States of Europe and America, a New Alliance, an even broader “coalition of the willing” towards the creation of a World Democracy Organization.

Daniele Capezzone is secretary general of Radicali Italiani. Matteo Mecacci is a member of the Transnational Radical Party.

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