Democracy, as a form of governance relying on the consent of the governed and as a means of fulfilling individual lives and pursuing common purposes, is a universal value. Indeed, democracy expresses human aspirations which are judged to be universal. But each democratic culture is unique and emerges from civil society not in a singular way. Democracy is nurtured from within, and in this sense it requires national ownership, understanding and support. Each country experiences in its own way the passage toward the democratic form its citizens choose as most suitable for their own society. To appreciate the contribution and culture of democratic processes, however, requires learning inter alia about governance, constitutions, electoral systems, and civil society.
But many of the challenges in achieving and consolidating democracy are shared, especially when a country transitions from a non-democratic society toward democracy. Questions arise such as: “Why should I vote?” “How can I influence my leaders?” “What can I reasonably expect from my elected officials?” “Why doesn’t my democratic government provide me with a better standard of living than the dictatorship we overthrew?” “What are my constitutional rights?” Answers to these questions need to be provided in the union halls, through civic institutions and the in the free press, but especially in the classrooms. It is only by educating the citizens about a sustainable culture of democracy can emerge.
To this end, on the occasion of the International Day of Democracy, the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) New York Office, in collaboration with the Council for a Community of Democracies and the UN Democracy Fund, along with the support of the Permanent Missions of Mongolia and Poland, is organizing a panel discussion to further advance democracy education at the United Nations and beyond.
This event will be televised through the UN webcast, as well as distributed through the UN Department of Information Centers worldwide.
At the end of the panel, participants will have:
- Understood the importance of a culture of democracy;
- Discovered ways to broaden peoples’ commitment to democratic values and ideals;
- Analyzed best practices in democracy education in other countries.
The event will feature expert presentations followed by an interactive discussion. It will be webcast via http://webtv.un.org/
This panel is designed for the members of Permanent Missions. UN staff and interested representatives of non-governmental organizations, academia and the private sector are also welcome to attend. Applicants are requested to regard their registration as a firm commitment.
The event will be held at the United Nations Headquarters, Conference Room 4 (NLB) in New York, on Monday, 17 September, from 1:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.