The challenges facing democracies to spur economic growth, protect human rights and improve people’s lives was the subject of the first plenary session at the 2008 World Movement for Democracy (WMD) Assembly, held in Kyiv, Ukraine, in April.
NDI organized the plenary, which featured a panel discussion involving Alejandro Toledo, former president of Peru and president of the Global Center for Development and Democracy; Roland Rich, executive head of the United Nations Democracy Fund; and Ayo Obe, chairman of the WMD. NDI President Kenneth Wollack was the moderator.
Toledo said that political democracy is vital – people must be free to express what they believe. But for political democracy to be sustainable, for leaders to recapture the faith in democracy, democracy must be responsive to peoples’ needs. Good economic performance is important, he said, but if wealth is not distributed fairly, people lose faith in their government. The institutions of democracy must also be strong, and must be made to work for the poor.
Wollack noted that making democracy work means making existing political systems more democratic by increasing government responsiveness to citizens at all levels, removing obstacles to effective political participation, reducing distortions in a democratic system caused by corruption, and developing an educated electorate that has access to information regarding policy-choices and trade-offs. It also means developing complementary partnerships between economic growth and democracy promotion organizations.
In addition to the opening plenary session, NDI ran a panel discussion on norms and standards for political parties and a skills-sharing workshop on iKNOW politics (the International Knowledge Network of Women in Politics).
Established by the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) in 1999, WMD is a global network of democrats, including political and civil activists, practitioners, political party representatives, trade unionists, business leaders, academics, policy makers, and funders who come together to cooperate in the promotion of democracy.
A full summary of the plenary may be found here:
Pictured above: NDI President Kenneth Wollack, left, with Alejandro Toledo, former President of Peru and President of the Global Center for Development and Democracy.
Published on Apr. 24, 2008