Astrea Justice (Zimbabwe) wins Council of Europe’s Democracy Innovation Award

Published in World
Thursday, 10 November 2022 10:22

At the closing session of the 10th World Forum for Democracy, the Council of Europe announced that the winner of its 2022 Democracy Innovation Award was the Justice Code Foundation Trust (Zimbabwe) for its human rights remedy application Astrea Justice.

The Justice Code Foundation Trust uses modern and innovative ways to ensure that citizens’ rights are protected, promoted and adequately remedied.

Astrea Justice informs and educates citizens of their legal rights to administrative justice, to vote, demonstrate and petition and to equality before the law, and also of the rights of arrested persons and personal security, including what to do in the case of violation. Their application is available in three local languages: Shona, English and Ndebele.

Three initiatives out of the 40 discussed at the Forum were shortlisted for the final vote:

  • Mind the gap - National Museums of World Culture (Sweden)– presented at the workshop on history, awareness and the power of narrative ;
  • “Nouveau Type de Citoyens” movement (Benin) – presented at the workshop on civic education;
  • Astrea Justice - Justice Code Foundation Trust (Zimbabwe) – presented at the workshop on e-democracy.

The Forum brought together in Strasbourg 900 participants from 80 countries across the world to answer the question “Democracy: a new hope?".

GLOBALink | Pursuing Common Values of Humanity: Chinese Stories on Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights

Published in CHINA
Thursday, 16 December 2021 18:20

They are probably the most ordinary Chinese people, who are going about their lives just like you and me, but who, with hopes and dreams, are trying to make a difference.

In Beijing, a group of university volunteers strive to help the visually impaired "hear" a movie. Can a world that is heard be the same with one that is seen?

In Shanghai, a mail courier is tasked with delivering the voice of the people. When the people speak, the country listens.

In the Daliang Mountains of Sichuan, a slow train is operating as it had been for decades, witnessing the history and changes along its tracks.

In Minqin, Gansu, grass-covered sand dunes are like chessboards, on which men outmaneuvers desertification.

In Wenling, Zhejiang, why did a man erupt in anger during a consultation meeting?

In Wuhan, Hubei, how has a photo inspired a touching symphony between two unlikely partners?

Click for documentary "Pursuing Common Values of Humanity: Chinese Stories on Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights," jointly produced by Xinhua News Agency and its think tank, Xinhua News Agency New China Research.

Produced by Xinhua Global Service

China Focus: China issues white paper on its democracy

Published in CHINA
Thursday, 16 December 2021 17:47

BEIJING, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- China's State Council Information Office on Saturday released a white paper titled "China: Democracy That Works."

Democracy is a common value of humanity and an ideal that has always been cherished by the Communist Party of China and the Chinese people, said the white paper.

Over the past hundred years, the Party has led the people in realizing people's democracy in China. The Chinese people now truly hold in their hands their own future and that of society and the country, said the white paper.

The people's status as masters of the country is the essence of people's democracy, it said. 

China's whole-process people's democracy integrates process-oriented democracy with results-oriented democracy, procedural democracy with substantive democracy, direct democracy with indirect democracy, and people's democracy with the will of the state, it said.

It is a model of socialist democracy that covers all aspects of the democratic process and all sectors of society. It is a true democracy that works, the white paper noted.

Democracy is a concrete phenomenon that is constantly evolving. Rooted in history, culture and tradition, it takes diverse forms and develops along the paths chosen by different peoples based on their exploration and innovation, it said.

Democracy is not a decorative ornament, but an instrument for addressing the issues that concern the people. Democracy is the right of the people in every country, rather than the prerogative of a few nations, the white paper noted. 

Whether a country is democratic should be judged by its people, not dictated by a handful of outsiders. Whether a country is democratic should be acknowledged by the international community, not arbitrarily decided by a few self-appointed judges, it said. 

There is no fixed model of democracy; it manifests itself in many forms. Assessing the myriad political systems in the world against a single yardstick and examining diverse political structures in monochrome are in themselves undemocratic, it added.

Photo shows the Chinese and English editions of the white paper titled "China: Democracy That Works" at a press conference held by the State Council Information Office in Beijing, capital of China, Dec. 4, 2021. (Xinhua/Li He)

GLOBALink | Documentary on China's approach to democracy, freedom and human rights to be released

Published in CHINA
Wednesday, 08 December 2021 16:44

Ordinary people, extraordinary stories.

In Beijing, a group of university volunteers strive to help the visually impaired "hear" a movie. Can a world that is heard be the same with one that is seen?

In Shanghai, a mail courier is tasked with delivering the voice of the people. When the people speak, the country listens.

In the Daliang Mountains of Sichuan, a slow train is operating as it had been for decades, witnessing the history and changes along its tracks

In Minqin, Gansu, grass-covered sand dunes are like chessboards, on which men outmaneuvers desertification.

In Wenling, Zhejiang, why did a man erupt in anger during a consultation meeting?

In Wuhan, Hubei, how has a photo inspired a touching symphony between two unlikely partners?

The documentary "Pursuing Common Values of Humanity: Chinese Stories on Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights" was jointly produced by Xinhua News Agency and its think tank, Xinhua News Agency New China Research.

The six stories document not only the pursuit of China but also of the entire world.

Coming soon to you.

Produced by Xinhua Global Service

GLOBALink | Understanding China's model of democracy /Video/

Published in CHINA
Tuesday, 07 December 2021 17:25

Over the past decades, China has never stopped in the pursuit of democracy. China did not duplicate Western models of democracy, but created its own.

Produced by Xinhua Global Service

 

Xi calls for bolstering confidence, jointly addressing global challenges at UNGA

Published in CHINA
Wednesday, 22 September 2021 11:56

Chinese President Xi Jinping addresses the general debate of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly via video, in Beijing, capital of China, Sept. 21, 2021. (Xinhua/Huang Jingwen)

BEIJING, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Chinese President Xi Jinping on Tuesday proposed a Global Development Initiative, calling for bolstering confidence and jointly addressing global threats and challenges to build a better world for all.

Xi made the remarks at the general debate of the 76th session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) via video, as the world faces the combined impacts of changes unseen in a century and the COVID-19 pandemic.

BEATING COVID-19

Right now, COVID-19 is still raging in the world, with the number of new cases rising every day globally. "We must beat COVID-19 and win this decisive fight crucial to the future of humanity," Xi said, voicing confidence that "we humanity will surely overcome it and prevail" despite the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic may appear overwhelming.

He called for putting people and their lives first, taking a science-based approach in origins tracing, enhancing coordinated global COVID-19 response and minimizing the risk of cross-border virus transmission.

Noting that vaccination is a powerful weapon against COVID-19, Xi said the pressing priority is to ensure the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines globally.

He reiterated the pledge that China will strive to provide a total of two billion doses of vaccines to the world by the end of this year. "In addition to donating 100 million US dollars to COVAX, China will donate 100 million doses of vaccines to other developing countries in the course of this year."

The role of China is even more critical at a time when some countries have adopted a selfish strategy of vaccine nationalism and even put restrictions on export of COVID-19 vaccines and other medical supplies, said Nadeem Irfan Bukhari, a professor from University of the Punjab, Pakistan.

GLOBAL DEVELOPMENT INITIATIVE

"Development holds the key to people's well-being," Xi said, adding that countries need to work together to steer global development toward a new stage of balanced, coordinated and inclusive growth.

He made a six-pronged Global Development Initiative, including staying committed to development as a priority, staying committed to a people-centered approach, staying committed to benefits for all, staying committed to innovation-driven development, staying committed to harmony between man and nature and staying committed to results-oriented actions.

"We need to increase input in development, advance on a priority basis cooperation on poverty alleviation, food security, COVID-19 response and vaccines, development financing, climate change and green development, industrialization, digital economy and connectivity, among other areas, and accelerate implementation of the UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, so as to build a global community of development with a shared future," he said.

To support developing countries in responding to COVID-19 and promoting economic and social recovery, China has pledged an additional three billion US dollars of international assistance in the next three years.

China will not build new coal-fired power projects abroad, he said, pledging that the country will step up support for other developing countries in developing green and low-carbon energy.

"This is another remarkable step taken by China on its own initiative to cope with the global climate change, as Xi earlier announced China's pledge to strive to peak carbon dioxide emissions before 2030 and achieve carbon neutrality before 2060," said Ruan Zongze, executive vice president of the China Institute of International Studies.

REJECTING FORMING SMALL CIRCLES

"We need to advocate peace, development, equity, justice, democracy and freedom, which are the common values of humanity, and reject the practice of forming small circles or zero-sum games," Xi said.

Democracy is not a special right reserved to an individual country, but a right for the people of all countries to enjoy, the Chinese president stressed.

Ruan said that some countries are keen to gang up in the name of democracy, wantonly interfering in other countries' internal affairs and even arbitrarily suppressing normal development of other countries and people's legitimate right to live better lives.

"Recent developments in the global situation show once again that military intervention from the outside and so-called democratic transformation entail nothing but harm," Xi said.

He called for building a new type of international relations based on mutual respect, equity, justice and win-win cooperation, and doing the best to "expand the convergence of interests" and "achieve the biggest synergy possible."

"One country's success does not have to mean another country's failure, and the world is big enough to accommodate common development and progress of all countries,” he said, adding that differences and problems among countries need to be handled through dialogue and cooperation on the basis of equality and mutual respect.

PRACTICING TRUE MULTILATERALISM

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the restoration of the lawful seat of the People's Republic of China in the United Nations. Xi said China will solemnly commemorate this historic event and advance cooperation with the UN to a new level and make new and greater contributions to promoting the noble cause of the UN.

"The UN should hold high the banner of true multilateralism and serve as the central platform for countries to jointly safeguard universal security, share development achievements and chart the course for the future of the world," Xi stressed.

Ruan said that some countries claimed to safeguard "the rules-based international order" under the banner of multilateralism, yet what they actually did was framing their own rules as international rules and imposing them on other countries.

The Chinese president called on the UN to increase the representation and say of developing countries in international affairs, and take the lead in advancing democracy and rule of law in international relations.

"It should set common agenda (in the areas of security, development and human rights), highlight pressing issues and focus on real actions, and see to it that commitments made by all parties to multilateralism are truly delivered," he added. 

François Hollande: ‘We need the Council of Europe more than ever’

Published in World
Wednesday, 12 October 2016 13:55

“France stands alongside the Council of Europe and I am confident that the Council of Europe stands alongside France in all efforts to promote peace, freedom and democracy,” declared France’s President, François Hollande, addressing the Assembly today.
Mr Hollande said he was a strong believer in the Organisation “because you have done so much to promote the rule of law, and to ensure that we all live up to the promises we have made. More than ever we need the Council of Europe.” In 2019, the Council of Europe will celebrate its 70th anniversary, he reminded the audience. “France will hold the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers and stands ready to organize a summit, the fourth of its kind, in an effort to provide new direction,” announced Mr Hollande.
Referring to terrorism, the French President said it was “a threat to democracy. Our way of life, our freedoms and fundamental values are being targeted by fanatics.” And in the fight against terrorism, he added, “security is compatible with the rule of law. Our law makes it possible for us to act effectively.”
What the terrorists want, said Mr Hollande, “is to divide us, to drive a wedge between us, to induce us to adopt special measures that would then be used to undermine our freedoms. It is these freedoms that are being targeted by terrorists.”
On the subject of the influx of refugees and migrants into Europe, Mr Hollande said that “Europe has been slow to come up with a common response. This response must include effective policing of Europe’s external borders. Only then can we provide dignified reception arrangements for refugees, send back migrants who do not qualify for asylum, make rules and ensure that they are observed.”
Mr Hollande went on to say that “the Council of Europe’s values have underpinned France’s efforts on the diplomatic front”. Referring to the quest for a diplomatic solution in Ukraine under the Minsk agreement, he said “we must work hard to establish the political and security conditions needed to enable elections in eastern Ukraine to be held as quickly as possible”.
Turning to the subject of Russia, Mr Holland said that “France has certain major disagreements with Russia, including over Syria. The Russian veto on France’s Security Council resolution prevented us from putting an end to the bombing and instigating a truce.” “There is a profound need for dialogue with Russia but it must be firm and honest. Otherwise it is pointless.”

 

PRIME MINISTER’S Full ADDRESS TO THE 71ST SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY

Published in Politics
Friday, 23 September 2016 10:25

PRIME MINISTER’S ADDRESS TO THE 71ST SESSION OF THE UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY:
Mr. President, Dear Colleagues, Distinguished Delegates,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my honor to address the General Assembly.

Georgia has promoted the values of the United Nations since regaining independence, 25 years ago. In return, the UN has served as a partner for us, one of the oldest nations in the world, in developing a free and democratic state.
Twenty-five years ago, few of us could have imagined this day.
Georgia has since transformed itself from a country ravaged by civil war into a dynamic European democracy.
We have made great progress in building strong and effective state institutions, ensuring:
- A free civil society,
- free media,
- free markets,
- social cohesion, and
- the rule of law.
We are proud to be ranked the 5th freest economy in the world, ensuring openness and integration into the global market and equal opportunities for all people interested in doing business in Georgia.
As of July, Georgia is an Associated country of the EU, harmonizing its policies, institutions, sectors and market rules with those of the European Union.
We are an aspirant country to NATO, having the deepest and most comprehensive partnership with the Alliance of any nation.
In the last few weeks, the US Government, the European Union, and NATO all took actions to emphasize that Georgia's future lies within the European and Euro-Atlantic community.
At its core, Georgia's foreign policy is aimed at building strong, mutually beneficial partnerships with the countries of our region and beyond.
This path, chosen by our people, leads to more stability, security, peace and prosperity in our country and the region.
The work never ends, though.
Today, we are poised to thrive in a new millennium. We are building an innovation-driven community with all generations looking over the horizon at an ever-brighter future.
We are building a country that will ensure the unification of war-torn communities and abolish the newest versions of the "Glienicke Bridge," which exist in the 21st century due to the continuous occupation of two of our regions, dividing peaceful societies on both sides.
A year ago we all together adopted a universal plan to better the world by setting 17 Sustainable Development Goals for the 2030 Agenda.
The much needed transformative agenda for 2030 is indeed impressive. But let's be frank. Despite the phenomenal blueprint of the MDGs, we as an international community could not live up to the challenge.
I welcome this year's focus on the transformative power of the SDGs. Let us make sure that in the 15 years that we have ahead we do our utmost to really fulfill if not all, at least a good majority, of the 17 goals.
To do so, we need to succeed nationally, and, at the same time, support others in meeting their national goals.
We also must remember how interrelated these goals are. We have to strive for peace and security by fostering development and vice-versa.
Our government has a vision for how to translate these goals into national actions.
This year, we launched a comprehensive 4-point reform plan, which is about making the development of our country a success for each and every citizen of Georgia and for the development and stability of the region.
Effective governance with transparent and accountable institutions is the key for building peaceful and inclusive societies and for sustainable development.
Focusing on SDG 16, we have made a clear break from the past by prioritizing good governance.
Two days ago, together with Estonia, the Republic of Korea and UNDP my country organized a special high-level cross-regional event aimed at sharing success stories on implementing SDG 16.
Let me reiterate that we remain committed to sharing our experience and extending support to those who are pursuing transformation.
Within Georgia, our goal is to ensure maximum inclusion of all stakeholders in the decision making process. We have created several platforms where we have regular dialogue with civil society and private sector representatives.
In promoting good governance, our aim is to make all public services even more accessible for business, and we have launched an ambitious project of a "Business House" in Tbilisi, capital of Georgia. It, together with an online platform, will serve as a one-stop-shop for businesses and as a front office for all government bodies.
Central to good governance is fair and efficient tax collection. Georgia is already one of the lowest tax burden countries in the world, but we are liberalizing our taxes further. In order to encourage business to invest in development, and thus in new jobs, we have taken a decision to abolish a profit tax on undistributed earnings.
Although it is a costly reform, it ensures the long-term sustainability of business and jobs.
We are also improving the tax administration system by strengthening the role of the judiciary in decisions on tax inspections, thus ensuring increased protections for the private sector.
Mr. President, the trend lines for Georgia are continuously improving:
 The World Bank just reported that Georgia's poverty rate dropped more than 10 percent from 2012 to 2014. This is a major accomplishment.
 In 2015, the unemployment rate continued to decline and is now at its lowest level in the past twelve years. Salaries and wages are up substantially compared to several years ago.
 Georgia's economy is growing despite downturns all around us and foreign direct investment is way up, almost 100 percent higher than in 2012. This translates directly into jobs for Georgians.
Georgia now ranks 4th in terms of "ease of doing business" in Europe and Central Asia and is on the path to being a true "start-up nation."
In the history of independent Georgia there have never been so many opportunities for hard-working people with a dream to launch or grow their own businesses. Those with an entrepreneurial spirit have more chances to succeed than ever.
We have launched several projects that ensure access to capital and infrastructure for people with innovative ideas, especially those interested in manufacturing or farming in Georgia.
Distinguished Colleagues,
The path towards fulfilling sustainable development goals and building resilient and inclusive communities requires unlocking the hidden resource that every nation has: its people.
Accordingly, education is among our top priorities. We decided to tailor our education system to ensure it delivers for each individual and for our society and economy as a whole. We want every graduate of a professional or higher education institution financed by the government to be able to find his or her place in a competitive labor market.
We want an education system that is competitive and delivers quality education not only to Georgian citizens but also to foreign students.
The construction of two new private technical universities, with an estimated development cost of 1 billion euro, has started this year. We will soon be able to offer some of the best education opportunities in our region.
A healthy population is also key to further growth and development.
Several years ago, we launched a flagship program for universal health care. Today, all citizens of Georgia have heath care insurance, making medical care a reality for hundreds of thousands of our citizens for the first time.
We have also encouraged private investments in the health care system, which has resulted in hundreds of millions of dollars being invested in new private hospitals.
A new national e-pharmacy system that will streamline the delivery of medicines to patients is now being tested.
With the help of our partners, special programs to eradicate persistent diseases have been started and Georgia is set to become one of the first countries to eliminate Hepatitis C. We are especially grateful to the United States for their help with this initiative.
Mr. President,
Georgia's development agenda is first and foremost about our citizens and their equal rights. We believe in the power of free citizens and the role of government in ensuring freedoms and opportunities for them.
Sustainable development is not possible without human rights, access to justice, and effective, transparent, accountable, and inclusive institutions.
We have taken major steps to bolster the rule of law. We overhauled court systems, prosecutors' offices, judicial ethics, and attorneys' responsibilities. We gave more rights to defendants. We ended impunity by government officials.
All Georgians are now equal before the law and can benefit from a judiciary system that has gone through several waves of reforms to reach higher levels of independence and professionalism. We are continuing the reform process of the judiciary to achieve the highest international standards.
Today, Georgia is number 29 in the Rule of Law Index of the World Justice Project, ahead of a number of old and new EU members.
Other important steps address a regrettable problem we inherited: past human rights violations, with particularly egregious infractions in our prisons. We have acted swiftly and decisively to correct this.
The UN's Special Rapporteur on Torture and Inhumane and Degrading Treatment recently observed that the Georgian government has turned this problem around since its election in 2012. The changes, he notes, are visible and quantifiable. We did this by putting in place legal and procedural mechanisms for combating the mistreatment of prisoners, including compensation to victims.
We have enacted new anti-discrimination legislation;
We have worked hard to concretely advance gender equality and women's empowerment; and
We are implementing a National Action Plan to ensure equal opportunities for persons with disabilities. But there is still more to be done. For that purpose, we have set in place a new long-term comprehensive Human Rights Strategy and Action plan.
In less than three weeks, we will be holding parliamentary elections in Georgia.
The campaign started more than three months ago, and this period has been evidence of Georgia's real democratic development. With a free and pluralistic media and political environment, strong and vocal civil society, and the relevant legislative and institutional framework, we are ensuring a free, fair and transparent election process.
On the 8th of October the people of Georgia will win, and our democracy will continue driving our country to a sustainable future.
Dear Colleagues,
Sustainable development cannot be fully realized if it is divorced from the overriding issue of security. In Georgia, we are reminded of this every day by a harsh reality: 20 percent of our country is occupied by foreign troops-who took it by force.
Hundreds of thousands of people continue to be denied the right to return to their homes. We are grateful for the support offered by the UNGA resolution on the "Status of IDPs and Refugees from Abkhazia, Georgia, and the Tskhinvali Regions/so-called South Ossetia, Georgia." It is time to translate this measure of support into action.
Barbed wire fences installed by the occupiers divide Georgian families and communities. The populations in the occupied regions endure constant ethnic discrimination and gross human rights violations. Their freedom of movement and their property rights are restricted. They are even denied education in their native language.
I condemn the recent act of holding elections to the Russian State Duma in Georgia's occupied territories, which is another part of Moscow's annexation policy.
And this all happens in the absence of any international monitoring, except for the limited involvement of the European Union Monitoring Mission, which has been denied access to the occupied territories.
The ongoing occupation and steps towards annexation remain the greatest existential challenge inherited by our government.
We have been seeking a workable solution with the Russian Federation. We have made some concrete progress in de-escalating tensions, but Georgia's steps forward have not all been reciprocated.
The Russian Federation has yet to honor even the EU-mediated ceasefire Agreement of August 2008.
Against this backdrop, I would like to once again reaffirm that this conflict must be resolved peacefully, based on the full respect of Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders.
We will continue to respond to the concerns of people living in the Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions and reconcile the war-torn communities across the occupation line. To this end, we will make all benefits of our European agenda and economic opportunities available to the people residing in the occupied territories.
Our investment in the prosperous future of a united Georgia is additional stimulus for building confidence and reconciliation.
We will invest more than 5 billion USD in connectivity and infrastructure in the next 4 years.
We will connect regions of Georgia with each other as well as connect Georgia with the wider region. Thanks to Georgia's strategic location, our ports, roads, and transport networks will be an important part of the ambitious and transformative Silk Road development plan connecting Europe and Asia.
We are investing not only in infrastructure, but in policy platforms as well.
The Tbilisi Silk Road Forum proved to be a major success, attracting the involvement of 35 countries.
In particular, we are honored and excited to be working with China and other nations of the Silk Road to provide a critical piece of a new trade and investment corridor that will benefit the entire world.
When we talk about connectivity, we must not omit the Internet, perhaps the greatest driver of global cooperation.
Therefore, we have started the development of a country-wide broadband system that will bring the benefits of the Internet to the most remote villages and farms. Georgia is proud to be on the list of top countries for internet freedom.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Mr. President and distinguished colleagues, I am proud to be speaking to you on behalf of Georgia at a time when we are on the rise and at the center of new developments connecting East and West.
It is in this spirit that we seek to create a more secure and prosperous region, grounded in principles of sustainable development.
We are working hard every day to take real actions that enhance the lives of our people while respecting their rights, their beliefs, and their cultures.
We look forward to continuing to work with the United Nations on achieving a shared vision for a better future.
I thank you.

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