3rd and 4th of December, 2013, New-York, United States - UNITAR and International IDEA held a Workshop on Democratic Governance, with emphasis on sustainable development in the context of the post-2015 development agenda.   As 2015 draws closer, the international community has to replace the Millennium Development Goals in consideration for new and emerging issues such as climate, gender empowerment and in particular, democratic governance. The post-2015 agenda needs to address sustainable development goals by incorporating social, economic and environmental conservation and protection issues.  While democracy is not specifically mentioned in the post-2015 agenda, the transformative aspects of sustainable development involve democratic processes.  

Ms. Yvonne Lodico, Head of the UNITAR New York Office, opened the seminar by emphasizing the importance of democratic governance as an enabler for sustainable development in the post-2015 context.  Following this, Dr. Massimo Tommasoli, Permanent Observer to the United Nations International IDEA, spoke of democratic governance in terms of public participation and encouraged the need for social and political dialogue as an effective way to achieve sustainable development.   Mr. Patrick Keuleers, Officer-in-Charge of the Democratic Governance Group at the United Nations Development Programme, highlighted the importance of accountability and transparency in ensuring governance is effective and democratic, both of which allow for greater respect for human rights and more equitable input from civil society.

His Excellency Mr. Od Och, the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary and Permanent Representative of the Permanent Mission of Mongolia to the UN led the first panel discussion on the integration of social, economic, environmental and political dimensions of sustainable development with attention to Mongolia’s incorporation of the Milennium Development Goals at the national level, Mrs. Tuti Wahyuningish Irman, Minister Counsellor (Political Affairs) for the Permanent Mission of Indonesia to the UN, discussed the transformative nature of development goals and the need for them to be universal in their application as well as useful for developed nations.   Dr. David Yang, Director of the Center of Excellence on Democracy at USAID, moderated discussion focusing on the importance of the rule of law in allowing for both representative and democratic governance to achieve sustainable development.  

In the afternoon session, Dr. Roland Rich, Executive Head of the United Nations Democracy Fund, furthered the discussion on indicators,  highlighting the robustness of civil society as a key measure in determining a country’s level of development.  Dr. Tommasoli noted the need for the post-2015 development agenda to take into account areas of improvement in developed nations, recognizing the need for greater overlap between national policy initiatives and development goals.   Dr. Sahar Aziz, Associate Professor of Law from Texas A&M University concluded the discussion focusing on the situation in Egypt as an example of the participation of youth and women in post-conflict development initiatives.

On the subject of linkages between governance, with peace, human rights and good governance as core elements of development, Her Excellency Mrs. Simona Mirela Miculescu, Permanent Representative of Romania, considered democratic governance and relisient communities  in relation to the resolution that Romania sponsored in the Human Rights Council.  Ms. Eugenia Piza-Lopez, Crisis Governance Adviser, Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery for the UNDP in New York spoke of her belief that democracy is an inherent value in all forms of society which should be emphasized in the development agenda.  Dr. Yang concluded the session citing the UN Secretary-General Report on the rule of law, and questioned whether there should be a narrow or broader application of the rule of law, and its implications for sustainability.

In the afternoon, Vincent Pinheiro, Deputy Director of the International Labor Organization Office for the United Nations emphasized the importance of providing social protection floors for the unemployed and addressed the correlation between a loss of dignity and social and political instability.  Dr. Azza Karam, Senior Adviser on Culture for the United Nations Population Fund debated the extent to which the UN should recognize religion in sustainable development and incorporate it into its diplomacy. As last speaker for the panel, Mr. Nicholas Leader, Governance Advisor from the Democratic Governance Group at the UNDP made delegates aware of the fact sustainable development is contingent upon social inclusion, recognizing the youth as the excluded generation.

Delegates and participants greatly benefited from this workshop, which addressed challenges related to the post-2015 development agenda and the relation between democratic governance and sustainable development.