Global democracy trends irreversible:Starting 2004 with more freedom [Archives:2004/699/Viewpoint]

January 1 2004

The year 2004 has come. Today, we celebrate the first of January 2004 with hope, ambitions and anxiety. But it is quite clear that it will be a year of more freedom and democracy and not the reverse.
Last week, I was lucky enough to be invited to a special lunch by the organizers of the upcoming “Sanaa Inter-governmental regional conference on democracy, human rights and the role of the International Criminal Court” to be held during 10-12 January 2004.
I was quite impressed by the level of preparation and coordination among the different sides co-organizing the event.
But what delighted me most was a phrase mentioned by one of the attendees, who was quite clear in explaining the importance of the event. “Leaders of developing countries are now aware that whether they like it or not, democracy is coming. The path is irreversible, so it is best to go with the wave and advance rather than try to stop it and be crushed.” he said, adding that Saddam was one of those destroyed by the wave.
Yes indeed, this sentence is full of wisdom because it highlights the fact that democracy is now turning to become no option, but a necessity. Countries that are now feeling somewhat uncomfortable with democratization, will have to, in a few months, years, or even decades, adopt democracy, not because there is a country or organization that is going to impose it on them, but because those countries will soon be isolated politically and economically and their regimes will lose power.
This is why Yemen's swift move in not only participating in democratic events such as this one, but hosting it is a clear indication of the leadership's understanding that the path to democracy is irreversible.
But do other leaders of developing countries believe in this irreversibility, or in other words, do they understand the word's meaning? I hope they do because it is their countries' future that would be at stake if they don't.
I am also glad to see that at last, there is an event held in conjunction of the Yemen government to focus on the importance of the media in democracy. Any democracy cannot succeed without the essential role of the free media, which should not only be allowed to speak up, but to rather criticize and scrutinize all negative phenomena that it observes. The media should report openly about individuals and/or bodies that act negatively so they would be aware that they are responsible for their wrong attitudes and need to correct them.
The media in Yemen has gone a long way, but there is plenty of room for development and enhancement. This conference could be an eye-opener of other countries that are hesitating to join the class of countries that have adopted democracy. The freedom of expression and opinion, the liberty of establishing non-governmental organizations, and the eligibility to have human rights protected are today very common and will be even more popular as time passes by.
I hold optimism in that Yemen will continue to open up to the world this year more than ever, especially as our political leadership is moving forward intelligently with the global trends of democracy. I believe 2004 will carry a lot of projects to revitalize our energies for action to remove all constraints limiting our freedom, especially our freedom of expression and open the way for more liberties on all front.
Eventually, it will be our responsibility to ensure that 2004 is freer and more prosperous than the years before it.
Happy New Year, and many joyful returns