Steve Griffin, Deseret News
Rep. Chris Stewart, R-Utah, holds a microphone for members of the media as they ask questions of House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif, during a press conference following the fifth annual Stewart Security Summit at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City on Friday, Aug. 2, 2019.

Last Friday, Aug. 2, Rep. Chris Stewart convened his fifth annual Security Summit in Salt Lake City. The summit featured experts including Susan Gordon, principal deputy director of national intelligence, Thomas Sheehy, distinguished fellow at the U.S. Institute of Peace and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif. While much of the discussion centered on data, cyber, intelligence, elections and foreign influence, there were also critical discussions on preserving and promoting freedom and liberty around the world.

The drivers of democracy are always worthy of attention.

One panel discussed the Warsaw Declaration, which was adopted by 106 states on June 27, 2000, at the opening of the Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies.

According to the Community of Democracies, the Warsaw Declaration defines the essential norms and practices for the effective establishment and consolidation of democracy and emphasizes the interdependence between peace, development, human rights and democracy.

These include:

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  • The right of citizens to choose their representatives through regular, free and fair elections, with universal and equal suffrage, open to multiple parties, conducted by secret ballot, monitored by independent electoral authorities, and free of fraud and intimidation.
  • The right of every person to equal access to public service and to take part in the conduct of public affairs.
  • The right of every person to equal protection of the law, without any discrimination as to race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.
  • The right of every person to freedom of opinion and of expression, including to exchange and receive ideas and information through any media.
  • The right of every person to freedom of thought, conscience and religion.
  • The right of every person to equal access to education.
  • The right of the press to collect, report and disseminate information, news and opinions, subject only to restrictions necessary in a democratic society and prescribed by law.
  • The right of every person to respect for private family life, home, correspondence, including electronic communications, free of arbitrary or unlawful interference.
  • The right of every person to freedom of peaceful assembly and association, including to establish or join their own political parties, civic groups, trade unions or other organizations with the necessary legal guarantees to allow them to operate freely.
  • The right of persons belonging to minorities or disadvantaged groups to equal protection of the law, and the freedom to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practice their own religion and use their own language.
  • The right of every person to be free from arbitrary arrest or detention, to be free from torture and other cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment; and to receive due process of law, including to be presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
  • The right of those elected to form a government, assume office and fulfill the term of office.
  • The obligation of an elected government to refrain from extra-constitutional actions, to allow the holding of periodic elections and to respect their results, and to relinquish power when its legal mandate ends.
  • That the aforementioned rights will be enforced by a competent, independent and impartial judiciary open to the public.
  • That elected leaders uphold the law and function strictly in accordance with the constitution and procedures established by law.
  • That government institutions be transparent, participatory and fully accountable, and take steps to combat corruption.
  • That the legislature be elected, transparent and accountable to the people.
  • That civilian, democratic control over the military be established and preserved.
  • That all human rights be promoted and protected.

Many of these rights are taken for granted by citizens in America. These rights have been proven to be fragile and easily forgotten.

We believe these rights are worthy of more of our attention and we are certain these rights will require vigilant protection from individuals, elected representatives and governments in the years ahead.