Strasbourg 5-11 October 2012

World Forum for Democracy

Bridging the gap: democracy between old models and new realities

"Eighty hours of debate, several dozen encounters, more than 200 experts from around the globe and 1500 participants representing 120 countries". This is the assessment of the first Strasbourg World Forum for Democracy made by Senior Co-ordinator Jean-Louis Laurens, during the closing ceremony.

The aim of this first Forum was not to find global consensus on democracy, but rather to allow discussions and exchanges of experience between politicians, global leaders and members of the civil society to identify possible answers to challenges arising in today's societies.

What are the forces shaping democratic societies in the future? Will the emerging voices of the Arab Spring bring about lasting stability? And can they be a source of inspiration for reforms in established Western democracies? By confronting conventional concepts with new realities, the Forum gauged how democracies can satisfy the expectations of citizens and adapt to their different values and traditions.

During the closing ceremony, the writer and Egyptian militant Nawal El Saadawi took a troubling look at where democracy stands today, as it responds to the challenges of the present crisis. She called for innovation in the economic system and education and for a change in media behaviour and religious approaches. "Democracy is a daily commitment for each responsible citizen. Democracy is a way of living. It is impossible to establish and to make democracy alive without valuing justice, liberty, dignity and human rights".

Nawal El Saadawi expressed the wish that future Forums: "stop treating the symptoms, and rather search for the causes of the disease" of our democratic systems.

Official opening of the Forum

Thorbjørn Jagland: "Democracy is a guarantor of progress and prosperity"

thorbjorn jagland speaking in council of europe hemicycle

Thorbjørn Jagland, Secretary General of the Council of Europe


Roland Ries: "Strasbourg embodies a certain idea of Europe, the Europe of values, those of human rights, democracy and the rule of law"

roland ries speaking in council of europe hemicycle

Roland Ries, Mayor of Strasbourg


Bernard Cazeneuve: "Democracy is no static model, but reinvented and recreated"

bernard cazeneuve speaking in council of europe hemicycle

Bernard Cazeneuvre, French Minister in charge of European Affairs

Keynote addresses

Ban Ki-moon: "Thirst for dignity is today pressing and universal"

ban ki-moon speaking in council of europe hemicycle

Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations


Tawakkol Karman: "All we are asking is mercy"

tawakkol karman speaking in council of europe hemicycle

Tawakkol Karman, 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winner


Under the auspices of the President of the French Republic

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