Democracy in Europe Working Group Raises Alarm over Assault on Democratic Principles in NATO Countries

Washington, D.C.Human Rights First today joined a bipartisan group of more than 60 foreign policy experts, former U.S. government officials, and former members of Congress in calling attention to a continued assault on democratic institutions in Central Europe. The call came in a statement of principles that concludes by asking Congress to hold hearings to ascertain which policies, actions, and resources can best protect democracy and the rule of law within the NATO alliance. The group also recognized similar challenges in the United States, and asked that allies hold the United States to the same standards of upholding democracy as other NATO countries.

This is the first public action by the bipartisan Democracy in Europe Working Group, which sent its statement to members of Congress and the administration.

“We have come together out of alarm that the erosion of democratic principles and weakening of democratic institutions among some of our European allies is putting at risk U.S. peace, security, and prosperity,” wrote the group. “We speak out, not as Democrats or Republicans, but as citizens committed to the core principles of democracy. It is these principles that make states strong, peaceful, and constructive partners. We come together connected by our shared values and to safeguard the security and interests of the United States.”

The statement details specific actions that violate basic principles of democratic governance that should raise alarm for Congress and the administration.

“Hungary may be leading the trend away from democracy, but others in Central Europe are not far behind. It is deeply troubling that Poland and Hungary are infringing on the rule of law and democracy, while reviving old forms of antisemitism. It is also alarming for the United States’ security that this is occurring alongside Russia’s efforts to undermine transatlantic unity and weaken democratic governments,” said Human Rights First’s Susan Corke, a Democracy in Europe Working Group founding member. “Congress and the administration must work together on a comprehensive strategy in support of democracy, particularly with European allies that are turning toward authoritarianism and away from democracy.”

Human Rights First has documented the erosion of the rule of law and attacks on civil society in Hungary and Poland, as well as growing antisemitism in those countries and others across Europe.


Published on April 4, 2018


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