Democracy Under Fire: Is Hungary Still a Rights-Respecting Democracy?

(Excerpt)

REMARKS TO THE GOVERNING COUNCIL OF THE COMMUNITY OF DEMOCRACIES
United Nations
Sept. 24, 2014

Sonni Efron
Senior Fellow
Human Rights First

Your excellency, Ambassador Leissner, thank you so much for inviting me to speak to this distinguished group, and thank you to Doug and our other civil society colleagues who have work that all of the governments in this room are dealing with multiple crises that are straining our capacities. And so I am grateful for your attention to the serious but seemingly less urgent threats to democracy and human rights we are discussing today. Others have spoken about a “recession” in democracy. In fact, the democratic world is under a new kind of ideological attack from the authoritarian camp. The attack is led most aggressively by Russian President Vladimir Putin, but also joined by would-be-authoritarians and human rights violators, inside Europe and the former Soviet bloc, and beyond.

This is a multi-pronged assault on the democratic ideals and the values that we cherish most. And even amidst the current storm of crises, it demands a thoughtful and muscular response.

The first prong of the attack is a reprise of the old canard that democracy is a Western concept unsuited to traditional societies. The countries represented in this room are testament to how outdated that concept is, and how outrageously disrespectful it is for any leader to assert that his citizens are quote “not ready for democracy.”

Testimony

Published on September 26, 2014

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