Democratic Values of Mongolia

By MP L.Bold
The following is the transcript of a speech given by MP L.Bold, head of the Mongolia-Germany Inter-Parliamentary Group, at the group’s 10th Assembly.
Distinguished Colleagues,
 Democracy in Mongolia had its 25th anniversary – a celebrated and retrospective whole year. Any person, or any country, is driven by reason, aspiration, and courage to proliferate its success. To do so is to be able to understand and distinguish its values and to be able to separate the primary from the supplementary. Only then, will it know what to protect, whom to defend, and when to stand true to its principles.
Notwithstanding the many accomplishments, democracy in Mongolia still faces a cycle of hardship, and political and economic adversity. Therefore, we, Mongolians, must always be conscious of our democratic values and be ready to stand up to these points.
We define our core democratic values in the following 10 points:
One. Peaceful resolution and dialogue-based solutions to conflicts have been the most defining character of Mongolian democracy.

We will forever be remembered as the country that transitioned to democracy without “a shard of broken glass or the shedding of blood”. Mongolians, through understanding and effective dialogues, more so than fate, conducted a peaceful revolution. The aging with the young, students and teachers together, journalists with their readers, protesters with police; and the choice that was made in this peaceful process was Mongolian democracy. It requires a mountain of reason to possess the ability of all parties to compromise as well as hope, to be flexible in arguments, and making the right set of decisions despite a myriad of choices. Only capable citizens can boast of such an achievement. In peaceful revolutions there are neither winners nor losers, but there is only the biggest step towards a brighter future. In retrospect, just this step alone required tens of years, jaded by bloodshed, and sometimes a whole century for many others. Mutual understanding, choices made together, and dialogue is the only solution to conflict from now on.

Two. Mongolian democracy was born and bred in Mongolia and is now a native democracy ingrained with indigenous values.
 Our country had no external influence that drove us to democracy; we did not have neighbors that we could rely on to import democracy. Despite our location in the midst of communist recess, our people chose democracy. Then we were determined to protect and raise this infant democracy born in the cold winds of winter. The democracy grew up to survive the cold winters that followed and became a resilient and adaptive native to the flatlands. Few are counted as such native democracies. Greece, France, the U.S., England, Switzerland, Norway, India, South Africa, and Poland are among those few with a history of native democracy.
Three. Mongolian democracy is the result of a courageous revolution that transformed both politics and the economy.
 Achieving only one of the two transitions demands extraordinary time or external support and aid. Mongolia achieved this historic twin transition in only a relatively short period of time, without too much international and foreign aid – rather by internal understanding, coordination, and determination. Initially, the world was skeptical of our ambitious plan for change. Therefore, the first years of society in transition was were documented much with international press coverage. But today, we look back with custodian pride at the things we have written in history. Many will ponder in the future just how our nation triumphed against many odds to achieve a united front to undergo this twin transition.
Four. The spirit of democracy in Mongolia is freedom of speech.
 Freedom of speech was the force behind the unity of the people, a guardian that cared for the fledgling democracy. To freedom of speech, we owed our peaceful revolution. It is thanks to freedom of speech that we heard and were heard, to find common ground and mutual conclusions. It was freedom of speech that enabled us to improve our society every step of the way, to learn from our mistakes, and to correct our wrongs. Advocating freedom of speech is quintessentially equal to protecting the foundations of Mongolian democracy. No words, no understanding. Without understanding, harmony and development are no more. We owe our common understanding of politics, of the economy, of religion, of political parties, and of private ownership to freedom of speech. Then the people gave birth to the most able proponents of these concepts. When the nation faces adversity, we can again and again turn to freedom of speech for understanding, for new perspectives, and for mutual solutions. We rely on freedom of speech to be reminded of our traditional values, our heritage. This is why, generation after generation, Mongolians shall always cherish freedom of speech.
Five. Democracy in Mongolia has been able to incorporate the universal values of democracy as is known to the world.
 Mongolian democracy encompasses and reflects all common international human rights: freedom, freedom of movement, and the right to private ownership. Mongolian democracy also invokes national customs, traditional knowledge, and the legacy of our past. Today, Mongolians have every condition to be protected by those internationally accepted rights and to be identified by those national characteristics. Mongolia’s political solutions are, too, embedded with these national values. Since the inception of Mongolian democracy, Mongolia has been open to the world politically, economically, and socially, making Mongolians truly global citizens.
Six. Democracy in Mongolia has been propelled by all people in their unity, acceptance, and support, and is proof of sovereignty.
 It has been proven by 20 years of research that those former Soviet countries that transitioned at around the same time, or shortly after, have not had such broad support for transition, and Mongolia ranks highly in this regard. To the question, “Do you think we made the right decision in 1990 to transition?” more than 90 percent of people polled consistently answer “yes”. An entrancing fact. Regardless of the cycles of economics, be it prosperous times or be it recessionary periods, the undivided and resilient determination to be a democratic nation is yet another vital democratic value of Mongolia, for that is the price of independence. From the beginning, Mongolians viewed democracy as the sole path to our independence, and now we view it as the proof of our independence. Our nation’s democratic principles are ingrained into our national security, and today our nation’s sovereignty is proudly established by democracy.
Seven. Mongolian democracy was a revolution pioneered by youthful leadership and characterized by immense intellectual vigor.
 A unique fact about the democratic movement was that its leadership was made up of the younger generation. English democracy was first borne by signatories of the Magna Carta, who were mostly middle-aged, rich people with certain social standing. Capitalists of similar demographics also established democracy in America. Then came the youth, with not many possessions to call their own, with neither authority nor social standing; and despite all previous cases pointing toward bloodshed and violent revolutions, they decided to lead with peaceful resolution and determination. The typical difficulty facing young revolutionaries is the perceived inability to persuade and engage the older generation. But history will regard Mongolia highly because of the support and solidarity given by the older generation to the changes desired by the youth. Prominent politicians at the time, religious citizens, pastoral nomads, the business community, and intellectuals – people of all walks of life and generations – understood one another and stood together in such a short time. This is an achievement that is a testament to the intellectually charged nature of Mongolian democracy.
Eight. Democracy in Mongolia facilitated a dynamic system that encourages the cultivation of many.
 Since the early days of democracy, many new associations, movements, and parties were instituted. The Democratic Association of Mongolia, New Progress Association, Socialist Democratic Movement, Mongolian Student Association, Movement for the Sovereign Border, People’s Business Association, Mongolian Religious Association, et cetera, are all entities that voiced their own promotion of democracy, reflecting their own unique values and visions. In today’s Mongolia, creation of nongovernmental organizations to voice issues, or coalition of parties is the norm rather than an exception that continues the dynamic tradition of democracy. In many cases pertaining to history, similar democratic movements either forced the removal of established parties or the barriers to new entry. In other words, the creation of multidimensional systems is not always wholesome nor without challenges. The uniqueness of the dynamic Mongolian system lies with maintaining the status quo without hindering the introduction of new establishments. Especially allowing the old communist party to transform, rather than completely removing it, has become a trademark, quintessentially Mongolian solution that is a valuable lesson in political studies. 
Nine. Mongolian democracy constitutes and promotes a person’s political rights, social and economic rights, and rights to freedom.
 Ever since the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, socio-economic rights and political rights have been separately constituted. Political rights include freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression, rights to a fair trial, and rights to an attorney, but many Asian democratic models have often neglected these because of their priority on economic development. On the other hand, social and economic rights were promoted by the Soviet Union and other socialist nations. Thus, classically modeled capitalist nations in the West have put less emphasis on the right to employment, right to study, right to healthcare, and cultural rights. Mongolians, informed of their social and economic rights and envisioning the promotion of political rights, have promulgated Mongolian democracy, thus creating a unique space that fulfills human rights and freedom. Mongolia continues to be a role model for the proponent of the United Nations’ human rights covenants.
Ten. Dissemination of information regarding Mongolian democracy was broad and swift in its reach to the people.
 Since the inception of Mongolian democracy, it has been debated, lectured, and its proponents continue to expand rapidly. In Eastern Europe, few became prominent leaders of revolution, few engaged individuals, and few sources came to be recognized, as opposed to Mongolia, where proliferation of democracy was more akin to that of the American revolution. Even now, Americans are proud to have many intellectual leaders, writers, and information venues, and the Mongolian revolution was inexplicably the same way. Journalists, lawmakers, economists, philosophers, teachers, and others were born in every corner of the nation. Society as a whole became a learning ground for new ideas, perspectives, and approaches. Learning became the new norm and people of all ages and profession had to learn anew. Through learning, these men and women transitioned. The broad participation in the process of learning continues to this day. What is truly impressive about Mongolian society is its ability to swiftly broadcast information and propagate education to others. Today, this particular ability of ours is studied by aspiring democracies. Mongolian democracy will continue to evolve and be a promoter of learning and informed decision-making in its broadest form.
Democracy is the cornerstone of social justice, existence, and independence. Nevertheless, it requires care, protection, and reason for its sustenance. Therefore, we will always be guardians and promoters of our democratic values.
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