iv. Actions to foster democratic participation [inputs to this section were provided by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs, the United Nations Department of Political Affairs, The United Nations Development Programme, the Council of Europe, the Commonwealth, the Organisation for European Co-operation and Development, the Organization of American States, and UNESCO.]

77. The fostering of democratic participation and governance is essential for the development of a culture of peace and non-violence. This is the only way to replace the authoritarian structures of power which were created by and which have, in the past, sustained the culture of war and violence. As emphasized by the United Nations Department of Political Affairs, promoting a democratic culture strengthens a culture of peace, because they are intimately related - in fact the different sides of the same coin. And, as stated by the Copenhagen Declaration on Social Development, '....democracy and transparent and accountable governance and administration in all sectors of society are indispensable foundations for the realization of social and people-centred sustainable development [which, with social justice] are indispensable for the achievement and maintenance of peace and security within and among our nations'[16].

78. Actions to promote a culture of democracy should be reinforced, including such core activities as mobilizing civil society and assisting the free formation of political parties; providing electoral assistance, promoting free and independent media; building a peaceful political culture through human rights observance and monitoring; improving accountability, transparency and quality of public sector management and democratic structure of government; as well as enhancing the rule of law. In addition to strengthening the governing institutions of the parliament, the judiciary and electoral bodies, support must be given to decentralization and strengthening of local governance and enhancing the participation of civil society organizations

79. Education for democratic citizenship should be a major component of curricula at all levels of educational systems as well as in the family, the media, and all others engaged in informal and non-formal education. In the action plan adopted by the Heads of State and Government of the Council of Europe (October, 1997), a priority is given to education for democratic citizenship which promotes citizens' awareness of their rights and responsibilities in a democratic society. Actions under this plan are due to begin in the Year 2000 and will be linked to the International Year for the Culture of Peace.

80. Development assistance should give priority to the establishment and strengthening of institutions and processes which stimulate and sustain the democratic process within the state and civil society, including representative, responsive and fair political institutions. This must include attention to transparency, accountability and accessibility of institutions to all members of society, including minorities, the marginalized and the vulnerable. Support should be given to ensure vigorous community consultation and participation in the formulation, implementation and evaluation of public policy, and the provision of affordable, effective and accessible services to all affected communities on an equal basis.

81. As the capacity for dispute resolution is a key factor in democratic governance over the long-term, training and capacity-building in dispute resolution for public officials should be an important component of development assistance. The focus should be on strengthening local capacities and supporting indigenous mechanisms of dispute resolution which contribute to democratic participation. Development interventions in support of dialogue and negotiation must avoid seeking to impose externally generated solutions, but rather they should provide the space within which parties to a conflict may themselves explore solutions and work together to build peace and democratic, efficient governance.

82. Electoral assistance, going beyond technical assistance provided to states for preparation and observation of elections, should be oriented to the development of endogenous capacity for the entire democratic process. Electoral participation is important, but even more important is the everyday participation of all citizens in political decision-making. Thus, for example, the programmes of the Commonwealth not only enhance the credibility of electoral processes through election observation missions, but they also provide technical assistance in institution-building in critical areas of good governance. It is always essential to take into account traditional institutions and the dynamics of participation of societies in the process of democratization as it has been shown that attempts to impose foreign models of democracy have not been successful.

83. Democracy is vulnerable to many forms of corruption. Therefore, it is important, as pointed out by the OAS, that actions by the international community to foster democratic participation should include vigorous defence against corruption, terrorism and the traffic in illicit drugs. This may include the exchange of experience contributing to standards that regulate and ensure transparency in the monetary contributions to political campaigns to prevent contributions from organized crime and illicit drug trafficking.

84. While there is no universal model of democracy, there are principles of democracy and governance which should be fully respected. The United Nations System should strive to promote governance by democratic principles and non-authoritarian structure and decision-making. The major objectives of reform should include a 'culture of management' in which dialogue, participation and consensus-building take precedence over hierarchical authority; conflict transformation and cooperation over institutionalized competition; power-sharing by women and men over male domination, and sharing of information over secrecy. By emphasizing the life-long learning of skills in cross-cultural communication, negotiation, organizational learning and transformational leadership, new educational initiatives such as the United Nations Staff College can infuse the values, attitudes and behaviours of a culture of peace into management practice at every level of the system.

85. A systematic programme of research needs to be undertaken on the experiences of national truth and reconciliation commissions which have been established following armed conflicts, often in the context of national peace accords. Drawing lessons from these and other institutional initiatives which treat social justice as a means to reconciliation, new initiatives and institutions may be developed.

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