The Commonwealth of Nations: a force for democracy in the 21st century?
Université Paris Diderot, Institut Charles V, 8-10 rue Charles V, 75004 Paris
11 April 2008
Membership of today’s Commonwealth of Nations implies respect for the rule of law, democracy and human rights. There have been major achievements, yet a sizeable gap remains between the diligent principles of summit declarations and the reality facing the population in various Commonwealth countries. One of the challenges is to provide a cogent conceptual framework for democracy, broad enough to reflect the diversity of Commonwealth members and of democracy itself. The Commonwealth Secretariat thus acknowledges that its on-going mission is to work “for” democracy: this includes formulating common democratic principles, buttressing emerging democracies through various governance-building schemes, civil society empowerment programmes, election observer groups and expert missions, and finally, taking action against persistent violations of democracy and human rights.
This conference will focus on two related issues:
Is there a specific Commonwealth view of democracy?
- Competing rhetorics of democracy, the influence of the Westminster model, relations between older and emergent democracies…
- The inseparable links between democracy and development, as formulated by the Commonwealth
- The Commonwealth and the notion of war for democracy
- Comparison with other multilateral organisations, divergence and cooperation – the United Nations, the European Union, the Organisation of African Unity, the Francophonie…
Looking at the evolution of the Commonwealth so far and at the means at its disposal, what challenges lie ahead?
- The work of the Commonwealth Secretariat, including the evolution and impact of election observer groups, the influence of gender and youth specific programmes, the development of workshop and expert missions…
- The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association
- Serious breaches of democracy and human rights in member states; the influence of the Commonwealth Ministerial Action Group
- Suspension and its effect on democracy and the population at large; re-admission after suspension
Papers, in English or French, can be devoted to the Commonwealth organisation as a whole, to the Commonwealth Secretariat or to specific Commonwealth countries. An edited collection of the papers presented will be published by the Université Paris Diderot.
Please submit proposals for papers, including a 250-word abstract and a brief CV, to Mélanie Torrent (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Claire Sanderson (email@example.com), no later than December 22nd 2007.
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