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Declaration of Gwangju Democracy Summit (GDS) 2021

Adopted on 18 May 2021 during the Summit subject to the amendments and revision on 26 May 2021

We, the laureates of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights and Special Prize representing democracy and human rights movements in Asia and beyond,

  1. Having met virtually at the first Gwangju Democracy Summit (GDS) on 18 May 2021 on the 41st anniversary of the Gwangju Democratic Movement,
  2. Expressing our deep appreciation to the May 18 Memorial Foundation for hosting the first Gwangju Democracy Summit as part of the Gwangju Democracy Forum during the week of May 18 Democratic Movement (17 to 21 May 2021),
  3. Reaffirming the importance of the observance of international human rights law and democratic and humanitarian principles such as the rule of law, free and fair election, protection of minorities and accountable governance,
  4. Emphasizing on equal and effective access to justice through legislative, judicial and administrative measures implemented through functioning institutions,
  5. Emphasizing on the importance of transitional justice to address state violence, impunity and related past human rights violations in a timely manner to restore the dignity of and justice for the victims according to the applicable international law and principles,
  6. Deeply concerned about the worrying phenomenon of religious and violent extremism as well as emerging authoritarianism and totalitarianism in the forms of mafia and fascist states,
  7. Deeply concerned about the shrinking civic space and eroding democratic values and norms during the response and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic,
  8. Deeply concerned about the failure of many governments in Asia in protecting and respecting the human rights of human rights defenders and advocates from gross human rights violations such as torture, extra-judicial killings, enforced disappearances, denial of a fair trial, violent suppression of freedoms of speech, association and assembly, abuse of administrative detention, and other harsh measures,


  1. Condemning the military junta of Myanmar that has committed the brutal massacre of numerous civilians since the illegal military coup on 1 February 2021,
  2. Condemning also masculinity driven militarist traditions used as a weapon of war and conflict, especially all forms of violence against women and the crime against humanity like genocide against Rohingya people,
  3. Condemning also all other authoritarian governments that committed gross and systemic human rights violations, and failed to protect the citizens and specially vulnerable people and minorities against all forms of violence and discriminations, in particular, the rejection of holding the legitimate elections in Bangladesh, the ruthless extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, the denial of minority rights in India, judicial harassment in Thailand and the denial of Indonesian authority to solve the mass killings including the genocide in 1965/66,
  4. Urging all the countries, in particular those who have the capacity to produce vaccine against the COVID-19, to cooperate to waive intellectual property rights to allow equal and timely access to the vaccine by all peoples through the COVAX Facility, in particular to countries in need of urgent assistance,
  5. Urging democratic governments to work together more closely to play a collective leadership role by taking timely action to defend democracy and support civil society and democratic movements internationally,
  6. Urging international organizations and meetings such as the ASEAN, ASEAN+3 and Asia Europe Meeting (ASEM) to play their role for the defense and promotion of democracy and human rights in accordance with international norms,
  7. Urging the relevant bodies of the UN such as the UN Human Rights Council, Security Council and Peacebuilding Commission (PBC), as well as UN Secretary General to take appropriate actions according to their mandates to defend and promote democracy, human rights and peace,
  8. Reaffirming our solidarity with all democracy and human rights advocates in Asia and beyond, especially those who have continued to struggle for their basic human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as for democracy,
  9. Calling for international solidarity and support to provide protection to the victims of human rights violations economically, socially and medically,

Commit to defend and advance democracy to the best of our capacity in our own country, Asia and beyond in a more proactive way as a Network of the Laureates of the Gwangju Prize for Human Rights and Special Prize (NLG) in partnership with all democracy and human rights advocates and defenders as well as their organizations everywhere.

18 May 2021



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