As leaders from around the world gathered in New York this week for the United Nations General Assembly, strengthening democracy was one of the most important topics on the agenda. Much of the work on this issue occurred in a series of meetings organized by the Community of Democracies (CD). When UN Secretary General Kofi Annan welcomed the creation of the Community of Democracies in 2000, he spoke about his hope that the CD would lead to a "renewed global commitment to making this century a century of democracies." Twelve years later, at a time when democratic transitions are taking place throughout the world, the CD is emerging as a key platform for governments and civil society organizations to work together to support democracy. The CD's agenda over the last few days covered everything from the use of technology to support transitions in Moldova and Burma to the challenge of restoring democratic rule in Mali.
On Sunday, September 23, I moderated a panel discussion with the Community of Democracies' Secretary General, senior diplomats from CD countries, and the Managing Director of DialCom at the Social Good Summit. We presented a groundbreaking CD initiative called the LEND Network. LEND -- which stands for Leaders Engaged in New Democracies -- is using technology to help people responsible for guiding democratic transitions connect with each other and exchange best practices in democratic governance. Participants in the Network include former presidents and prime ministers who have navigated the challenges of democratization and current leaders in emerging democracies. The project has received funding from Sweden and the United States, technology from companies including OpenText, Google, and DialCom-Spontania, and backing from civil society organizations such as the Club de Madrid.
On Tuesday, the Community of Democracies held its Fifth Governing Council meeting at UN headquarters. The Council got updates from CD Task Forces supporting transitions in Moldova and Tunisia and explored how to restore democratic rule in Mali. The CD also received reports from working groups focused on defending civil society, empowering women, and promoting democracy education. The CD has used its working groups to promote collaboration between partners inside and outside government on key challenges facing the world's democracies. Later in the day, 18 foreign ministers and leaders from dozens of other countries participated in a meeting of the UN's Democracy Caucus, first organized by the CD in 2004. CD meetings on Wednesday focused on how to support democratic reforms in Burma.
Within the CD, we often say that democracy is a road traveled -- not a destination. And as nations take that journey together, they have an opportunity to support each other along the way. The governments and civil society leaders that came together for the CD's meetings this week recognize that opportunity, and they are committed to working together to make this century a century of democracies.
Editor's Note: You can watch Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's message to the Social Good Summit in the video player above or read the text transcript here.