Supporting democratic processes in partner countries
According to the Multiannual Development Cooperation Programme 2016-2020, democracy and human rights represent one of the thematic areas of Poland’s development cooperation.
The choice of this priority is based on the assumption that in order for less developed countries to make progress in the long run it is necessary not only to considerably improve the functioning of the state as such, but also to respect democratic standards and human rights. Consequently, democracies, as donors of development aid, also promote the principles of democracy as a system that is better placed to meet people’s social, cultural and economic needs, and fosters sustainable economic growth. Rather than imposing one’s own ideas or interests, though, the goal of promoting democracy is to protect people against the abuse of power and to ensure that citizens have the right to determine their own fate.
Focusing Polish development cooperation on the 'democracy and human rights' priority answers the development needs of the priority countries. Actions undertaken within the scope of this priority are part of the joint efforts of international community to further reduce world's powerty and to ensure inclusive and sustainable growth based on the recognition of rules of democracy, human rights and good governance. The choice has been made while taking into account experience from implementation of the Multiannual Development Cooperation Programme 2012-2015 and division of work among the international donors.
Support for democracy also implies strengthening civil society and its independent institutions, as well as monitoring and assessing the social and economic situation to make sure human rights and fundamental civic freedoms are observed. In addition, this involves adequate and transparent election mechanisms, open public life, free and independent media, freedom of assembly and expression.
In the framework of the priority thematic area of support ‘democracy and human rights’ Poland’s development cooperation in particular comprises – in line with the Multiannual Development Cooperation Programme 2016-2020 – democratic election process, human rights and civic freedoms, strenghtening institutions of the civil society, civil dialogue.
International and regional organizations, such as the European Union, the Council of Europe, the OSCE, as well as the UN and its agencies, play an important role in spreading democracy. As a member of these organizations, Poland is actively engaged in actions to ensure the observance of democratic principles and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. Some of the flagship initiatives supported by Poland at the international forum include:
European Endowment for Democracy (EED), which came into operation in mid-2013. Designed as a European initiative, the EED aims to support democratization processes and build civil society chiefly in countries covered by the European Neighbourhood Policy, but also in other regions. The EED will complement the EU’s instruments for supporting democracy by targeting web and social media activists and independent journalists who cannot seek help from the EU and other donors. In January 2011, Minister Radosław Sikorski presented the idea of establishing the EED in reaction to the Arab Spring and developments in Belarus, which laid bare the weakness of EU instruments when it comes to providing leaders of pro-democratic change with swift and flexible assistance. Soon afterwards, the EED initiative was backed by EU member states, the European Parliament, the European Commission and the European External Action Service, which made it possible to adopt the EED Statute in June 2012 and set about creating its structure and action plan. Beneficiaries can apply for support through the EED website (www.democracyendowment.eu).
Community of Democracies – a coalition of over one hundred countries whose mission is to promote democratic principles and strengthen democratic norms and institutions worldwide. It was established during an international conference in Warsaw in 2000 on the initiative of Polish Foreign Minister Prof. Bronisław Geremek and US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright (www.community-democracies.org).
Solidarity Fund PL – a Polish State Treasury foundation set up in 2001 on the initiative of Poland’s President and reactivated in 2011. Pursuant to Article 10(3) of the Development Cooperation Act, the minister of foreign affairs may request the Fund to carry out tasks in a country which is in a special political situation. The Fund is tasked with supporting democratization processes, in particular by building democratic competences of young opinion makers, assisting leaders of systemic transformation and civic organizations. Its principal areas of operation are Eastern Partnership countries (with special emphasis on Belarus), as well as selected countries that fit the provision of Article 10(3) of the Development Cooperation Act (solidarityfund.pl).
- Warsaw Dialogue for Democracy - Polish activities in the field of promotion of democratic values require the establishment of a permanent forum for the exchange of good practices and expertise in the evolution of democratic systems, as well as developments in that field in other parts of the world, with emphasis on the European neighborhood. It is our ambition for the Warsaw Dialogue for Democracy to act as such a forum (http://www.warsawdialogue.pl/).
This recurring event consists of regular monitoring of the international environment to sustaining democracy, as well as of creating recommendations mainly for international organizations involved in supporting democratic transformations. The above initiative is addressed to all people, institutions, and organizations focusing on the promotion of democracy, rule of law and human rights.