When the Warsaw Declaration was signed in 2000, the signing states confirmed their commitment to democratic values and practices. It was clear, however, that words are not enough, and that in order to validate this commitment, there is a need for action. This need was finally realized in the third Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies in 2005 in Santiago, when participating states pledge to widen their support to the activities of the Community through the establishment of working groups, which will embody and concretize the values expressed by the Warsaw Declaration. The Working Groups were founded to serve as a means for disseminating information and knowledge on best practices, coming up with practical initiatives to promote and support democracy at all levels.
Five Working Groups operate within the Community of Democracies, each one of them chaired by member states of the Community’s Governing Council:
The Permanent Secretariat participates in the Working Groups by providing them with necessary support in terms of input, logistical coordination and communication of the Groups’ output. Chairs of the Groups are responsible for the Group’s efficient and consistent work, sharing information with the Governing Council and the Permanent Secretariat, aiming to achieve consensus among the Group, and ensuring its adequate composition, aiming for balance of regional representation, scope of expertise, and participation of civil society.
So far, the different Working Groups have already put into action different norms supported by the Community of Democracies, through a number of initiatives:
The Working Group on Enabling and Protecting Civil Society, for example, activated a special alert mechanism, disseminating call for actions to an international contact group in cases when governments around the world amended restrictions on civil society;
The Working Group on Women and Democracy has launched the “Women in Democracy” website, promoting through virtual means the principles of gender equality in politics and highlighting important initiatives in the field;
The "Practical Approaches to Improve Electoral Processes" project was undertaken under the Working Group on Elections and resulted in a joint publication with International IDEA.