The Commission on Human Rights in its resolution 2003/36 requested the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a compilation of documents and texts used by various intergovernmental, international, regional and subregional organizations aimed at promoting and consolidating democracy.
The texts and documents in this compilation have been adopted by various organizations from different regions of the world, notably the African Union (AU), the Economic Community of Central African States (ECCAS), the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Organization of American States (OAS), the Andean Community, the Organization of Iberoamerican States for Education, Science and Culture (OEI), the Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA), the Common Market of the South (MERCOSUR) , Permanent Mechanism of Political Consultation and Coordination - the Rio Group (GRIO), the European Union (EU), the Venice Commission of the Council of Europe, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the League of Arab States.
Other relevant texts were adopted by intergovernmental organizations such as the International Organization of la Francophonie (OIF) and the Commonwealth, or by other entities such as the International Conference of New or Restored Democracies (ICNRD) and the Community of Democracies (CD). The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) has also adopted relevant texts.
Several texts and documents adopted by the United Nations and specialized agencies such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have also been used for the purpose of this compilation.
The documents and texts used in the compilation vary in their nature and legal status. The types of documents and texts include the following: constitutive acts, treaties, charters, declarations of principles, protocols, guidelines, plans of action, strategies, codes of conduct and codes of good practices, recommendations and regulations.
Regardless of their legally binding status, the value of these documents and texts rests on their acceptance and recognition by a large number of actors. They provide guidance and are an important source of information to those involved in the promotion and consolidation of democracy.
With regard to the content of documents and texts used in the compilation, international, regional and subregional organizations have generally expressed their adherence to principles and objectives such as equality before the law, freedom of expression and association and participation in the political decision-making process. Documents and texts used in the compilation contain strong commitments to the strengthening and implementation of the essential elements of democracy such as separation of powers, empowerment and strengthening of parliaments, independence of the judiciary, fair and transparent elections, opposition to unconstitutional changes of Government, popular participation, decentralization of power, freedom of the press, freedom of the members of the Bar, and the subsidiary role of the armed forces, the police or the security forces in a democracy.
Documents and texts used by these organizations also underline the close link and the interdependence between democracy and other concepts such as stability, peace and sustainable development, as well as efforts to fight corruption.
Several organizations have adopted documents and texts on principles or guidelines for democratic elections, guidelines for elections observation and monitoring, codes of conduct and codes of good practice in electoral matters, guidelines for constitutional referendums, guidelines for the financing of political parties or prohibition and dissolution of political parties.
Education for democracy and promotion of a culture of democracy are also topics highlighted in several texts presented in the compilation.
Several organizations have adopted texts in which they reject and condemn unconstitutional changes of Government, define what should be considered as unconstitutional changes and propose measures to be taken against such disruptions of constitutional order.
Some organizations have established democratic clauses in their agreements with third-party States linking their assistance to the respect of democratic principles, and have elaborated mechanisms to supervise commitments undertaken by States in the field of democracy.
The compilation of documents and texts is a useful resource for States, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, United Nations bodies and specialized agencies and academics and other specialists who would like to do comparative research in this area. The compilation is also a helpful resource for those interested in international, regional and subregional approaches to issues relating to promoting and consolidating democracy.