Thanks for visiting the blog of the World Movement for Democracy’s Seventh Assembly. This year’s theme is Democracy for All: Ensuring Political, Social, and Economic Inclusion.
Gustavo Ceratti, músico argentino de la banda Soda Stereo, al final de un mega recital (y emocionado ante la respuesta de la gente) se despidió de público diciendo: “Gracias totales!”. Para los argentinos (jóvenes y no tanto) y muchos latinoamericanos fanáticos de la banda, ese “gracias totales” pasó a ser santo y seña de una muestra superlativa de agradecimiento.
Hoy, quiero decir “Gracias totales” al WMD, por la maravillosa oportunidad de compartir esta Asamblea. A su staff, por el trabajo preciso y comprometido que han realizado. A los activistas de todo el mundo, por haber compartido sus experiencias. A los peruanos, por su cordialidad y simpatía.
Anoche, durante la cena, mirando a todas las personas que estábamos reunidas bajo un mismo techo con un fuerte compromiso democrático, pensaba: ¿de qué color será la energía que nos está rodeando en este momento? Y creo que la respuesta es: del color que tenga (cual fuera que sea) la democracia y los derechos humanos.
Una vez más: ¡gracias totales!
The Russian opposition’s plan to hold an online election for a new Coordinating Council on October 21 may be democratic, but it could also prove divisive, says a leading member of the World Movement for Democracy’s steering committee.
“Instead of discussing what is important, it is being proposed to discuss who is important,” says Vladimir Ryzhkov right). “And, as we know from Russia’s history, when this question begins to be asked, everything collapses.”
The proposed cyber-poll is “part of a plan to gain public legitimacy and consolidate the protest movement,” writes analyst Amy Knight:
They see this online election as a parallel to the local and regional elections and hope that anywhere between 50,000 to 100,000 voters will participate. For its supporters, the council is supposed to be a way to narrow the gap between those running the opposition movement and the millions of citizens who are dissatisfied with the Putin regime because of rampant official corruption, deteriorating living standards, and declines in education and healthcare, as well as with the Kremlin’s dominance of the political process.
Russian democrats can also take heart from new revelations that President Vladimir Putin’s election in March was of questionable legitimacy, Knight notes:
Although concerns were raised at the time, many observers of the March presidential contest concluded that, unlike in the December Duma elections, there was not large-scale fraud. However, a new study in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, using a statistical model that looks for areas of unusually high turnout, suggests there may in fact have been widespread manipulation of votes. This calls into question Putin’s alleged majority—and makes it harder to discount the possibility that the Kremlin might interfere at the polls again in the future.
Discontent with Putin is likely to grow, according to an August poll from the Levada Center which found that only 37 percent of respondents expressed confidence in the president, and only 41 percent felt Russia was moving in the right direction. Putin’s approval rating of 63 percent was due less to his popularity than to the perceived absence of a credible alternative.
“This situation may change,” writes Knight, “especially if more people like Evgeniya Chirikova, whose program now embraces a range of democratic demands, emerge on the scene.”
The Levada Center receives support from the National Endowment for Democracy, the Washington-based democracy assistance group.
The cultural evening and reception hosted by the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima and Mayor Susana Villaran de la Puente in Parque de la Reserva, Lima was an amazing evening for the democracy activists.
At this event the Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell, Chair, WMD Steering Committee and Former Prime Minister of Canada was honoured as a “Distinguished Citizen of Lima” by the Mayor Susana Villaran de la Puente. “I am extremely overwhelmed by this honour”, said the Rt. Hon. Kim Campbell when receiving the award.
Prior to the award ceremony, participants were welcomed like state hosts with welcoming dances and a band.
”Being treated with the cultural music of Peru was another unforgettable memory in my stay in Peru“, said a participant.
The event concluded with an unforgettable laser light show.
Peruvians are extremely hospitable. They accept and greet you from the bottom of their hearts. The laser display by the fountain was extraordinary, something which I have never seen elsewhere. “They opened up their hearts, and home too”, said Prof. David McQuoid-Mason, Prof. of Law at the University of Kwazulu Natal, Durban, another energetic and charismatic participant.
The assembly will be concluding this evening [October 17] with the John B.Hurford memorial dinner and the presentation of democracy courage tributes.
Another participant commented on the beautiful evening, “It is an event that is difficult to describe in words, but all you have are very pleasant memories. During the laser light show, most of the participants became transfixed like temporary sculptures as it was awesome.”
I want to share couple of pictures from the first day. Other pictures are coming soon!
Has civil society played a critical role in Egypt’s current transition or is Western media to blame for creating a ‘myth’ that the Facebook generation of media-savvy youth leaders brought down Hosni Mubarak?
The 25th January revolution was sparked by spontaneous actions that no political actors had either foreseen or planned – on that much at least the panelists at the World Movement’s 7th assembly agreed.
Pro-democracy and human rights activists were solely focused on removing President Hosni Mubarak and gave no thought to the post-Mubarak transition or contesting for political power, said Esraa Abdelfattah Rashid (right) of the Egyptian Democratic Academy.
Egypt’s fractious secular liberal and leftist groups now have “no choice” but to cooperate and coordinate if they are to challenge for power. The objectives of civil society must be to organize coalitions to challenge the Islamists’ draft constitution and even to develop an alternative, she said.
The revolution resulted in “qualitative change,” reflected in a totally different political landscape and a new set of inexperienced actors that defy attempts to analyze or predict future trends, said veteran rights advocate and publisher Hisham Kassem (left). The new political matrix sees the well-organized Muslim Brotherhood; new radical Islamist (Salafist) groups on the political stage for the first time; a weak, fragmented secular opposition; and a huge surge in peoples’ political consciousness and rights-awareness that has the government “terrified” because of its questionable ability to deliver on people’s demands for jobs, economic security and stability.
Western journalists and commentators created the myth of social media’s transformative impact and also elevated so-called youth leaders who have since proved to be incompetent, naïve or totally marginalized, said Kassem, a member of the World Movement’s steering committee. But openings are likely to emerge for civil society and secular parties because the Muslim Brotherhood tends to pursue an entirely sectarian, self-interested and opportunistic agenda.
The Brotherhood has been an electoral success but a political failure, as demonstrated by its failure to turn its 40% election score into valuable political leverage by forming a coalition.
Egypt will follow neither the Turkish nor the Pakistan model, but its own path, said Kassem, a recipient of the National Endowment for Democracy’s 2007 Democracy Award. The post-Mubarak transition has been plagued by Murphy’s Law – everything that could go wrong did go wrong – and governance has been marred by the replacement of an entirely corrupt and incompetent political class with a merely incompetent political class that needs to “learn on the job,” he said.
How did Burma go from a military-dominated authoritarian state to a quasi-civilian government so quickly while avoiding a backlash by hard-liners and recruiting oppositionists into legitimating the reforms? This is no doubt one of the questions that will be raised in tomorrow’s session on the role of civil society in Burma’s transition at the World Movement for Democracy’s 7th assembly.
The same question is addressed in the latest issue of the Journal of Democracy in which the National Endowment for Democracy’s Brian Joseph (one of the assembly panel speakers) and Min Zin, a doctoral researcher at the University of California, argue that the shift that now appears to be underway in Burma raises questions not only of motivation and timing but also of management.
Key to the reforms’ success (or at least survival) have been constitutional guarantees for the military and hard-liners combined with a series of shrewd personnel assignments that have placed ex-generals in competing positions of institutional authority.
Those competing positions exist because Thein Sein’s predecessor Than Shwe had been anxious to forestall the kind of power concentration and palace intrigues at levels just below the top that had led to the imprisonments and eventual deaths of both his immediate predecessors.
For a half-century after the military took over in 1962, the prospects for political change in Burma appeared remote at best. The regime was one of the world’s most rigidly authoritarian, and it oversaw one of the world’s least developed countries. On virtually every index by which human development is measured, this country of 56 million people has lost ground and now sits near the bottom of world rankings.
As if to make the picture even gloomier, Burma’s soldier rulers have long followed isolationist policies that have guaranteed continuing economic and political stagnation, even as many other nondemocratic countries in Asia have embraced economic reforms and foreign policies that have helped to integrate them into the global community and in some cases made them less authoritarian. Despite the efforts of a prodemocratic opposition movement and its best-known figure, Nobel laureate Aung San Suu Kyi (above), Burma seemed fated to remain unfree and poor in the military’s iron grip.
Much to the surprise of observers, however, that picture began to change in early 2011. Despite retaining a firm hold on power and facing no urgent domestic or international threats, the military began to shift course. Oddly, what turned out to be the curtain-raiser to the new direction was more of the “same old same old”: On 7 November 2010, presidential and parliamentary elections had taken place under highly fraudulent conditions, and had produced resounding wins for 65-year-old premier and former general Thein Sein and the military-backed Union Solidarity and Development Party (USDP).
The success of the reform effort will also depend in large measure on how Burma’s political leadership—including the current government, the military, the NLD, and ethnic leaders—handles the structural and political issues that have eroded any sense of national unity or identity and led to a highly contested state. The old question of the state’s fundamental nature cannot be avoided. Is it a Burmese-speaking Buddhist country with a large minority population but with ethnic Burmans more or less in the driver’s seat? Or is it a multiethnic country in which everyone has an equal claim on what it means to be Burmese? Failure to face this question will not only guarantee more human-rights abuses in the ethnic areas, but also undermine any prospect of creating a just and enduring democratic state.
The main challenge now, therefore, is less democratization per se than the building of a state in which democracy can take root and grow. For the substantive democratization process, the real test will be how the transition proceeds in the aftermath of the 2015 elections.
Those elections, unlike the April 2012 by-elections, have the potential to significantly alter Burma’s basic power structure. Thus they represent a far greater threat to the military and other hard-liners than the by-elections did.
Religious conviction can be a source of inspiration for those struggling for freedom and justice or, in its most debased forms, provide a toxic rationale for perpetrators of the most egregious rights violations.
Aware Girls, an audacious Pakistani NGO, organized a discussion on freedom of religion and social inclusion at the World Movement for Democracy’s 7th assembly today, alongside its co-sponsor, the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom. The group aims to empower young women in the face of fierce hostility from the Pakistani Taliban and other fundamentalist Islamist groups, a threat that attracted the world’s attention with the October 9 attack on 14-year-old Malala Yusufzai.
The attempted killing of Malala “should open the eyes of all those who have been looking for ways to avoid fighting these barbarians,” writes Husain Haqqani, a professor of international relations at Boston University and a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.
“In 1996, soon after the Taliban stormed Kabul, one State Department official described them as ‘Pashtun nationalists,’ an error that helped consolidate Taliban power in Afghanistan until 9/11 changed American minds and plans,” he notes in The New York Times. It’s time for the West to “really grasp the nature and totalitarian ideology of the Taliban,” says Haqqani, Pakistan’s former ambassador to the U.S.
This young girl is the latest casualty in a clash of contrasting visions. Others, notably former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, Punjab Governor Salmaan Taseer and Minorities Minister Shahbaz Bhatti, have been killed for advocating enlightenment against the obscurantism represented by the Taliban and its Islamist allies.
The Taliban’s claim that Malala was targeted because she “was promoting Western culture in Pashtun areas” is a red herring, aimed at framing the issue in terms of Islam versus the West. Unfortunately, several Westerners fall for the ruse, given their desire to avoid military conflict in a far-off region. Many of Pakistan’s leaders have acted as apologists for the Taliban as part of their political strategies, causing even more confusion about the Taliban’s motives.
An ideological battle against the Taliban’s beliefs is already being undertaken by many Afghans and Pakistanis. The international community can strengthen the hands of these local groups with training, equipment and economic support. External support does not delegitimize the local effort as Taliban apologists would have us believe. The Taliban will not change if the West disengages. After all, its members have dug out centuries old graves of Sufi saints because they oppose their beliefs in religious tolerance.
For the first time in my life I am that far from home, from Belarus! It was 27 hours long sleepless and endless day in the planes and airports, I tired of listening music, reading and then… I “caught” an idea out of the space on the height of 11.000 meters somewhere above the equator! I started writing… and I filled around 5 pages of my notepad with a words, and charts, and further questions, and I couldn’t stop writing! I wrote down couple of thoughts to develop, noted a couple of observations and made some new plans for the next months of my life. It was amazing feeling: this is how meetings like WMD Assembly make me think in a creative and new way for me!
La tecnología móvil tiene un gran rol en que desempeñar en la democracia; puede transformar la relación entre gobernados y gobernantes de manera positiva, empoderando a los ciudadanos mediante la utilización, por ejemplo, de tecnologías móviles. En esta sesión de trabajo en la 7° Asamblea, durante la mañana del martes 16, hemos estado analizando estas cuestiones y conociendo casos exitosos de organizaciones que trabajan la temática.
La red Omidyar (http://www.omidyar.com/), organización que ha efectuado su presentación en primer lugar en este workshop, fue fundada por Pierre y Pam Omidyar (los creadores de e-bay).Esta organización de inversión filantrópica apoya a empresarios sociales porque considera que todos los individuos tienen la capacidad de hacer una diferencia y las empresas tienen un rol poderoso que jugar en la comunidad, impactando a millones de personas.
Para llevar a cabo su misión, Omidyar busca lograr impacto social utilizando el tipo correcto de capital y empoderando a las personas con la tecnología para que puedan saber como trabaja el gobierno.
La tecnología crea conexión, compromiso colectivo y escala con costos bajos: un ejemplo es la tecnología móvil. La tecnología puede permitir la transparencia de la información y la participación de los ciudadanos, empujando la rendición de cuentas.
Global Integrity (http://www.globalintegrity.org/), otra de las organizaciones que llevaron adelante el panel, trabaja en gobierno abierto en Washington. Ellos utilizan la plataforma Endava (http://www.endava.com/) y trabajan aplicaciones customizadas para los inversionistas.
Sunlight Foundation (http://sunlightfoundation.com/)tiene 7 años de existencia y está localizada en Washington. Proveen nuevas herramientas para ciudadanos y medios de comunicación para la transparencia. Como la tecnología se inserta en la sociedad hoy y hacerla funcionar para todos. La información es poder y quieren mejorar el acceso a la información (y al poder por consiguiente). Han desarrollado aplicaciones muy exitosas que ayudan al acceso a la información (http://sunlightlabs.com/).
Ciudadano inteligente (http://www.ciudadanointeligente.org/), de Chile, también ha presentado una serie de aplicaciones interesantes para promover acceso a la información y transparencia: Vota Inteligente, Inspector de Intereses, Acceso inteligente, Del Dicho al Hecho, Desarrollando América Latina, Desarrollando el Caribe, El Vaso, Señal Aló, Hay acuerdo?, Globo Ciudadano, Candideit. Todo tiene que ver con la acción colectiva.-
Janaagraha (http://janaagraha.org/), de India trabaja con gobierno y ciudadanos, potenciando el poder de la información y la tecnología. Comienzan con casos pilotos y luego van escalando. Tienen el sitio web Ipaidabribe (Yo pagué un soborno, http://www.ipaidabribe.com/) que hace crowdsourcing de información y crea una red que comparte y resiste.
Co-Creation Hub Nigeria (http://cchubnigeria.com/), es un centro de innovación social para acelerar la utilización del capital social y la tecnología para la prosperidad. Está conformado por personas que viene del área de la tecnología, los emprendimientos sociales, gobierno, empresas, inversores. Es un laboratorio viviente para catalizar ideas innovadoras vinculadas a la tecnología y los emprendimientos sociales. Sus pilares son Comunidad, Laboratorio abierto , Pre-incubadora e Investigación. En la presentación de la organización se mostró el sitio web Budgit (http://yourbudgit.com/) que presenta de manera amigable el presupuesto federal y la aplicación Constitution for All (http://constitutionforall.com.ng/).