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The world’s poor also have the right to influence
Statement from the general assembly of MS on the 17th of September 200617. September 2006
MS focuses on democracy. Therefore, we’re happy to determine that democratization has received a lot of attention in recent years. The increased focus on democracy does not necessarily lead to more influence for poor and marginalized men and women which is why MS focuses on how democratization is carried out.
According to Freedom House, 122 out of 192 countries may today be categorized as democracies compared to only 64 countries in 1988. Both in this examination as well as in democratization generally, MS has determined that the focus is on institutional democracy – systems and institutions. There is only little talk of strengthening and developing democratic values and freedom rights in everyday life as well as poor people’s possibility of real influence.
It is in the interaction between practice and systems that decision making is made democratic. If the daily connections on all levels are not controlled by democratic core values, respect and consideration of others, the systems will merely become empty rituals without real meaning for individuals and, as a consequence, for society. This goes for the family, the local school, the national decision making processes as well as for the global level where it is necessary that the world’s poor in multilateral organizations recognize that their opinion is being heard in a democratic manner.
Democracy is supposed to be for everybody and not just for the rich establishment and the well educated. All experience shows that democracy can only be ensured and stabilized if supported widely by all groups of society. Democracy can only gain support if the individual human being feels that it is worth working for everybody’s interests and needs. Therefore, it is not only a question of copying western ideals and institutions but also a question of strengthening democratic values in all connections as well as developing a practice that ensures the feeling of real ownership and strengthens cohesive energy as the foundation for development.
One decisive element in the democratic practice is the state’s ability to fulfill common political goals which is directly dependent on the civil society’s possibility of and capacity to participate, inspire and challenge in the decision making process. Without a democratic foundation for the individual human being and the close local structures, we will never obtain true democracy nationally and definitely not globally.
This is why MS works on strengthening poor people’s own efforts to strengthen democracy. By supporting partners that work with awareness and social understanding, with organization and participation and with direct contact to local decision makers, a dynamic and dedicated civil society is developed based on the views of the poor and marginalized.
Therefore, MS urges that all efforts for democratization at an institutional level are supplemented accordingly. This is ensured by strong support of the building of civil societies through e.g. the building of the capacity of partner organizations which creates awareness and space for the real influence of the poor.
Adopted by the general assembly of MS on the 17th of September 2006