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									Media Coverage
(Doha meeting –October-November 2006)

Qatar stirs controversy proposing an office on world democracy
Agence France Presse – 31 October 2006

DOHA, Oct 31, 2006 (AFP) - A Qatari proposal to set up a permanent office to follow up the
recommendations of a UN-sponsored conference on democracy was met Tuesday by
reservations from Western countries.

A senior Western diplomat said "not every one was convinced of the Qatari project", and
"countries like the United States and Russia expressed reservations because they want to
explore the aims of the proposed office and forms of its funding.

"The funding of this office would raise a problem, mainly due to the presence of other (follow-up)
mechanisms like the (UN) Democracy Fund, which was founded in 2005, and the United Nations
Development Programme (UNDP)," he told AFP.

The sixth edition of the UN "New and Restored Democracies" conference is being hosted by gas-
rich Qatar. Ironically, the small Gulf emirate did not even have a constitution until last year, its
legislative council is still named by the emir and political parties are banned.

Qatar's undersecretary of foreign affairs, Mohammed al-Rumaihi, said on the conference
sidelines that "a number of countries expressed reservations over the idea, fearing the presence
of a new pressure group within the United Nations."

He said the emirate's proposal is "a follow-up mechanism ... comprising the current and past
presidencies of the conference, with an equal representation across the continents of civil society
and parliamentarians."

One participant, who asked not to be named, said some Western countries, including the United
States, do not wish to see non-governmental organisations (NGOs) represented within the
proposed mechanisms.

An Arab human rights activist said the same thing.

"Some governments want to impose on us those who would represent us in this follow-up
mechanism, while we we prefer to elect our own representatives," said Haitham Manaa, the head
of the Paris-based Arab Human Rights Organisation.

For her part, French delegation head Nicole Guedj said "conferences are not a place for action,"
but that "France supports Qatar," without giving any details.

Conferences "are frames for debate which remain absolutely necessary," she said, referring to
the event, which brought together representatives of 82 countries, including Israel.

The conference was opened Sunday by Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin
Jabr al-Thani, who stressed that democratisation should "take into account the specifics of each
society."

Democracy must not "lead to anarchy," he said, adding that "armed conflicts are an obstacle" to
democracy.
Without international justice "based on principles and rights in the United Nations Charter,
primarily with respect for colonized people's right to self-determination, there is no real
democracy," he told participants.

This year's conference, which concludes Wednesday, is expected to adopt a "Doha Declaration"
and a plan of action for the coming three years.

The conference was launched in Manila in 1988. It was last held in Mongolia in 2003.
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Democracy meet in Qatar urges respect of people's will
Agence France Presse – 1 November 2006

DOHA, Nov 1, 2006 (AFP) - Representatives of dozens of governments pledged to promote
democracy at the end of a four-day conference in Qatar Wednesday but stressed that democracy
should not be imposed by outsiders.

"Democracy is based on the freely expressed will of the people to determine their own political,
economic, social and cultural systems," said a statement issued at the close of the Sixth
International Conference of New or Restored Democracies.

Pressed by the United States to introduce democracy, several Arab and Islamic states have
insisted that such reforms must neither be imposed from outside nor necessarily conform with US
notions of democracy.

"There is no single model of democracy," the declaration issued in Doha said.

It stressed that "interfaith dialogue and cooperation play a vital role in promoting democracy" at a
time when Islamophobia is seen as harmful to dialogue among civilizations.

The representatives of 82 countries, including Israel, pledged to encourage "tolerance, respect
and dialogue" among peoples and condemned "terrorism in all its forms and manifestations."

They announced the creation of an "advisory board" chaired by Qatar and comprising eight other
members that will hold annual meetings between sessions of the democracy conference, which
convenes every three years.

The board will have representatives of governments, parliaments, civil society bodies and the
United Nations.

The funding of the board, whose creation was met with reservations from the United States and
Russia, was assigned to gas-rich Qatar for the next three years, but the statement said that
"contributions from international donors are welcome."

The UN-sponsored democracy conference was launched in Manila in 1988.
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Livni shuns Qatar conference, but Israel is there
Agence France Presse – 29 November 2006

DOHA, Oct 29, 2006 (AFP) - Mired in Middle East politics, an international conference on
democracy opened in the Gulf Arab state of Qatar on Sunday boycotted by Israeli Foreign
Minister Tzipi Livni but with Israel still attending.
Officially, Livni shunned the UN-sponsored meeting on "New and Restored Democracies"
because of the participation of the militant movement Hamas, which has led the Palestinian
government since March after its victory in January legislative elections.

The conference was opened by Qatari Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabr al-
Thani, who stressed that democratization should take into account the specificities of each
society.

"Israel rejects all contacts with Hamas for as long as it does not respect the three preconditions
set by the international community: it must give up violence and recognize Israel and the
agreements signed by the Palestinians," Israeli foreign ministry spokesman Marc Regev said on
Sunday, explaining Livni's decision to stay away.

At the same time, news that Livni had planned to attend prompted a boycott by Lebanon's
Foreign Minister Fawzi Salukh who announced on Saturday that he would not go to Doha
because Livni would be there.

Israel in July launched a devastating 34-day offensive against Lebanon during which more than
1,200 Lebanese civilians were killed -- about 30 percent of them children -- after the Shiite
movement Hezbollah captured two Israeli soldiers.

An Arab diplomat said several other Arab countries had downgraded their representation
because they had expected Livni to attend.

Qatar itself appeared relieved that Israel's chief diplomat would not come after all.

"It's good she's not coming, since several Arabs and Muslims did not want to see her at the
conference," a senior Qatari member of the organizing committee told AFP, asking not to be
named.

However, he deplored the fact that "Arab and Muslim countries sit with Israel under other roofs in
the framework of the United Nations but balk at doing so when the meeting is taking place in an
Arab country, albeit under UN auspices."

Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Amira Oron said in Doha that while Israel had downgraded
is representation because of Hamas, "the enemy of Israel and democracy", the country still
attached great importance to the gathering and was participating with a team headed by Yaacov
Hadas, deputy director general of the ministry's Middle East department.

As it turned out, Hamas sent only one delegate -- Ahmad Bahr, deputy speaker of the Palestinian
legislative council.

A lawmaker from the Fatah faction, Ibrahim al-Mussadar, is also attending, alongside two
members of the Palestine National Council, the parliament-in-exile representing Palestinians both
inside and outside the territories.

The official Palestinian delegation was led by Fatah leader Faruq Qaddumi, who also runs the
Palestine Liberation Organization's Tunis-based political department.

Gas-rich Qatar does not have diplomatic relations with Israel but there has been an Israeli
commercial mission in the emirate since 1996, and visits to Doha by mid-level Israeli officials are
relatively frequent.

Hadas and the Hamas lawmaker were both present at the opening of the conference, as were
Arab League chief Amr Mussa and the secretary general of the Gulf Cooperation Council,
Abdulrahman al-Attiyah.
"We must take into account the fact that the continuation of armed conflict and violence poses an
obstacle to the achievement of this goal (of democracy), notably in the Middle East," the Qatari
foreign minister said in his inaugural speech.

Livni's visit would have been the first by a minister from the Jewish state in five years.

Of some 82 countries taking part in the four-day conference, about 30 are represented at
ministerial level, according to organizers. Ten of the Arab League's 22 member states have sent
ministers, including seven foreign ministers.

Reform in the Arab world is expected to top the agenda of the conference, the sixth of its kind. In
all, 17 studies are to be submitted to participants, covering aspects of democratic gains in the
world since the first such gathering took place in Manila in 1988.

This year's International Conference on New and Restored Democracies is expected to adopt a
"Doha Declaration" and a plan of action for the coming three years.
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Qatari official says democracy not belong to particular country
Xinhua News Agency – 29 November 2006

CAIRO, Oct. 29 (Xinhua) -- A Qatari senior official said on Sunday that democracy does not
belong to one particular country or region and there is no set global model for democracy,
according to reports reaching here from Doha.

Qatari Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani made the
remarks during the opening session of the sixth UN-sponsored International Conference on New
and Restored Democracies.

Sheikh Hamad noted that established democracy had their ups and downs before reaching
democratic maturity.

The four-day conference, which kicked off in Qatari capital Doha on Sunday, has attracted the
participation of more than 300 people representing 142 countries and 97 civil society
organizations.

Reform in the Arab world is expected to top the agenda of the conference whose first conference
took place in Manila in 1988.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, who had planned to attend the conference, finally didn't show
up at the occasion because of the participation of Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (
Hamas).

Israel has rejected all direct contacts with Hamas which has led the Palestinian government since
March after its victory in January legislative elections due to its refusal to recognize the existence
of the Jewish state.
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Democracy forum opens in Qatar
The Press Trust of India – 30 October 2006

Dubai, Oct 30 (PTI) Armed conflicts and violence are hurdles in realising the principles of true
democracy in the Middle East, the Qatar Foreign Minister has said.
"Continuation of armed conflicts and violence constitutes an obstacle in relasing the principles of
true democracy, particularly in the Middle East region," Sheikh Hamad bin Jassem bin Jabor Al
Thani said inaugurating an international conference on democracy in Doha where 1000
participants are representing 82 countries, including India.

The Sixth International Conference on New or Restored Democracies began deliberations in
Doha yesterday. India's Minister of State for Foreign Affairs E Ahamad is representing the contry
at the Forum.

Addressing the conference UN General Assembly President Sheikha Haya Rashed Al Khalifa
said democracy is widely supported "because it provides a framework to promote human
development and human rights." She said the UN Democracy Fund was severely under-funded
despite having received request totaling USD 447 million from various countries.

However, the corpus of the Fund stands at just USD 51 million, a figure that must immediately be
helped by contributions, she stresse.

In his speech, Secretary-General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Anders B Johnsson said
parliaments in many countries are facing a crisis of confidence and legitimacy.

Nyamaa Enkhbold, Foreign Minister of Mangolia and chairman of the fifth ICNRD conference,
Amir Dosal, representative of the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan and also spoke at the
inaugural session.
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Democracy most powerful tool in attaining development: Ahamed
The Press Trust of India – 31 October 2006

Dubai, Oct 31 (PTI) India has said its long experience of democratic rule has helped it succesfully
overcome the challenges of development.

"We believe that democracy based on universal adult suffrage empowers the most humble citizen
of our country and gives him a sense of dignity. Poverty, illiteracy and socio-economic
backwardness do not hinder the exercise of democracy," Minister of State for External Affairs, E
Ahamed, has said.

"Our experience of more than 50 years of democratic rule demonstrates how democracy is the
most powerful tool to successfully overcome the challenges of development," Ahamed said in his
address to the Sixth International Conference on New and Restored Democracies, in Doha
yesterday.

The Indian experience had shown that "implementation of pro-active development policies and
economic reforms, when coupled with a liberal democratic polity, leads to overall stability and
growth." The minister said that being a developing country, India is in a unique position to not
only understand the problems that a developing country might face while taking its first steps
towards democracy, but can also suggest a whole range of approaches and solutions based on
its own experience.

India has strongly supported the creation of the UN Democracy Fund with an initial contribution of
USD 10 million, Ahmed was quoted as saying by the Peninsula newspaper.

The Indian delegation to the conference also includes Deputy Speaker of Lok Sabha, S Charnjit
Singh Atwal.
Nearly 1,000 participants representing 82 countries, 65 parliaments and 107 civil societies are
attending the conference hosted by Qatar.
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Doha conference urges support for democracy
By Arvind Nair
Gulf Times -- 30 October 2006

DEMOCRACY, though by far the best form of governance, cannot be imported or imposed, nor is
there a single model for all, speakers told an international conference in Doha yesterday.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the Sixth International Conference of New or Restored
Democracies (ICNRD), Qatar‟s First Deputy Premier and Foreign Minister, HE Sheikh Hamad bin
Jassim bin Jabor al-Thani, said that "it is taken for granted that there is no single global model for
democratic practices".

Nyamaa Enkhbold, Mongolia‟s Minister for Foreign Affairs and ICNRD-5 chair, pointed out that
"we all know that democracy cannot be imported or exported. But it can and should be supported
through international co-operation, exchange of views and experiences, and assistance."

Echoing the same sentiments, HE Sheikha Haya Rashid al-Khalifah, president of the UN General
Assembly, remarked that "each country has its own unique democratic path based on its history
and political system."

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) Secretary General Anders B Johnson, professing the same view,
suggested that "every country and democracy will need to establish its own democratic
institutions based on its own history and traditions."

Foreign ministers, government officials, heads of parliaments and social organisations from 142
countries are taking part in the meeting, which will continue until November 1.

Delegates represent 97 governments, 95 non-governmental organisations active in democracy,
and 65 parliaments. Also attending are 15 UN experts, specialised in democracy issues.

Starting today, they will discuss issues related to democracy, political reform, effective
governance, the role of democracy in development and combating poverty, as well as freedom of
speech.

The conference will discuss 17 research papers related to democracy and reform.

HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim, who took over the chairmanship of ICNRD-6, said today‟s well-
established and ancient democracies had gone through experiences and phases of failures until
they had reached intellectual maturity.

"Therefore, it is imperative to take stock and to use the lessons learnt to serve our societies while
avoiding the failures of others without compromising the specificities of each society."

"Therefore, it is imperative to take stock and to use the lessons learnt to serve our societies while
avoiding the failures of others without compromising the specificities of each society".

He pointed out that "democracy did not belong, in any day, to a certain country or region. But
there are many cross-cutting lines among democratic states".

The most important features are political participation and internationally recognised human
rights, in addition to respecting the rights of minorities.
"Qatar gives importance to UN and therefore supports the establishment of the UN Fund for
Democracy," HE the First Deputy Prime Minister said.

"This was motivated by our willingness to support the UN‟s endeavour to promote democratic
practices".

The decision to host the conference, HE Sheikh Hamad bin Jassim said, reflected "our full
conviction, as government and people, of democracy in theory and practice".

The slogan for the current conference is „Capacity Building for Democracy, Peace and Social
Progress‟.

Relinquishing the chair, Enkhbold said the new era of globalisation posed many interrelated and
interdependent challenges. "One of those challenges is the promotion of democracy".

Since the end of the Cold War, democracy has advanced rapidly. Thus, for example, today more
than 140 countries hold multiparty elections, the Mongolian foreign minister said.

Sheikha Haya said democracy was widely supported by people because it provided a framework
to promote human development and human rights.

A recent world-wide poll on democracy, covering 65 countries, revealed that eight out of 10
citizens supported democracy as the best system of government. In Africa it was nine out of 10,
she pointed out.

Stressing that there was no single model for democracy, she said, "democracy is a process. It
takes time. Each country has its own unique democratic path based on its history and political
system".

Sheikha Haya said democracy "works best when freedom of expression, inclusive participation
and transparency according to the rule of law are encouraged".

The UN Democracy Fund provides support for projects ranging from civil society empowerment
and civic education, to promoting fundamental freedoms, accountability and transparency,
nationally and internationally, she said.

So far, she said, the fund had received pledges worth $447mn from countries but the actual
receipt had been just $51mn. She "encouraged" all member states to contribute to the Fund.

Anders Johnson, of the IPU, said parliaments in many countries, including many in the emerging
democracies, had to grapple with a crisis of confidence and legitimacy.

The opening session was also addressed by a representative of the UN Secretary General and
chairman of the International Civil Society Forum for Democracy.

Just before the conference, members of the Lebanese delegation staged a demonstration against
the participation of Israeli delegates in the conference by displaying pictures of the recent Israeli
aggression.

Reuters adds: Israeli foreign ministry spokesperson Amira Oron said that while Israel had
downgraded is representation at the Doha conference because of Hamas presence, his country
still attached great importance to the gathering and was participating with a team headed by
Yaacov Hadas, deputy director general of the ministry‟s Middle East department.
Hamas was represented at the conference by Ahmad Bahr, deputy speaker of the Palestinian
legislative council.

A lawmaker from the Fatah faction, Ibrahim al-Mussadar, is also attending, alongside two
members of the Palestine National Council, the parliament-in-exile representing Palestinians both
inside and outside the territories.

The official Palestinian delegation was led by Fatah leader Faruq Kaddoumi, who also runs the
Palestine Liberation Organisation‟s Tunis-based political department.

Hadas and the Hamas lawmaker were both present at the opening of the conference, as were
Arab League chief Amr Moussa and the Secretary General of the Gulf Co-operation Council,
Abdulrahman al-Attiyah.

The conference is expected to adopt a „Doha Declaration‟ and a plan of action for the coming
three years.
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Doha Forum resolves to safeguard democracy
The Peninsula -- 2 November 2006

Doha -- The sixth International Conference on New or Restored Democracies (ICNRD-6)
concluded here yesterday with a final declaration where the participants expressed their resolve
to work together to resist all threats to democracy, including the overthrow of constitutionally
elected governments.

The conference unequivocally condemned terrorism in all its forms and manifestations. It also
condemned foreign occupation, all forms of abduction, targeted killings and destruction of civilian
infrastructure.

The Doha Declaration reaffirmed the respect for sovereignty and the principle of non-interference
in domestic affairs as provided in the UN Charter.

More than 1,000 participants from 145 countries, representing governments, parliaments and civil
society organisations, attended the six-day conference, hosted by Qatar, the ICNRD-6 chair.

Nasser Abdul Aziz Al Nasr, Qatar's permanent representative at the United Nations and deputy
chairman of the conference's organising committee, presented the declaration, which was
unanimously approved.

The panel at the concluding session included the Minister of State for Foreign Affairs H E Ahmed
bin Abdullah Al Mahmoud, H E Mohammed bin Mubarak Al Khuleifi, the Speaker of Qatar's
Advisory Council, Anders B Johnsson, secretary general of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU),
Cyril Ritchie, chairman, international steering committee of the International Civil Society Forum
and Khaled Alloush, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative.

The conference underlined that the inalienable right of all peoples to self determination is
essential for peace, democracy and social justice.

It also stressed the need to develop home-grown democratic reforms, taking into account the
distinctive cultures and traditions of each society.

The forum reaffirmed the right of peoples to determine methods and to establish institutions
regarding free and fair electoral processes. It noted that “there is no single model of democracy or
of democratic institutions” and “States should ensure all the necessary mechanisms and means
to facilitate full and effective participation in those processes.”

The statement noted “with satisfaction” the momentum towards democratic governance in various
countries of the Middle East, and expressed concern over the continuing inter-state armed
conflicts and violence that have “jeopardised the prospects for a Middle East peace and further
democratisation.”

The meeting also approved a joint statement issued by the three components of the conference-
government, parliament and civil society. The statement underlined the need to co-operate and
build effective partnerships between these three important sectors “ in pursuit of the rule of law,
human rights, democratic governance and institution building.
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