“The idea of human rights and freedoms must be an integral part of any meaningful world order.”
Vaclav Havel, president of the Czech Republic, was honored today in Philadelphia for a lifetime of struggle in the cause of freedom.
Like the Czech Republic, a number of other countries that once imprisoned political activists like Havel are now abandoning their former governments and writing new constitutions. They’re adopting the principles of democracy and the rule of law.
None of these new constitutions is a “copy” of ours, exactly. Many of them look to European parliamentary systems too. And each country draws on its own traditions as we once drew on ours.
But there’s still a powerful connection between these new constitutions and our old one.
The “fundamental ideas of modern democracy,” Havel said as he stood in front of Independence Hall, were “first declared in this building”—the idea of inalienable rights, and “the principle that all power derives from the people.”