The fall of totalitarianism has yet to usher in the era of democratization that was expected. Since the end of the Cold War, non-democratic actors have rejected democracy building efforts as an imposition of institutions and values in places where these ideas are allegedly incompatible. New forms of authoritarianism, enabled by new technologies in a globalized world are exploiting vulnerable democracies. In turn, these el ements are using democratic tools to undermine democratic civil society, nascent institutions and young constitutions. While democratic life itself cannot be exported, to the vast majority, the values of freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law remain universal.
Democracy and security are essential for global stability and prosperity. To achieve sustainable economic and social development, the rule of law is essential. Even more so is the confi dence of the people to shape the laws that govern their lives. Human rights, minority rights and religious freedoms remain abstract concepts without the institutions to enforce them. The evolution to democracy does not happen overnight. Robust democratic institutions and processes evolve over time and bolster pluralism in local religious, historical, political, social and economic realities. Democratic life happens when those who share in these common values come together to work together. The Canada-based Forum establishes precisely that – a network and resources for those in emerging democracies to draw upon in determining their own democratic future.