Strasbourg 5-11 October 2012

World Forum for Democracy


Palais de l'Europe : Hémicycle

9:00 am

Official opening of the Forum

by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Mr Thorbjørn Jagland

Welcome by the Senator-Mayor of Strasbourg, Mr Roland Ries, on behalf of the local authorities

Statement by Mr Bernard Cazeneuve, Minister Delegate for European Affairs of France


Keynote addresses by:
  • Mr Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations
  • Ms Tawakkol Karman (Yemen), Nobel Peace Prize winner 2011

Plenary session

Palais de l'Europe : Hemicycle

10:30 am / 1:00 pm

Do markets need democracy and vice-versa?

The American then worldwide financial crisis of 2008 had effects that spread to a good many countries now caught in lasting recession. Hundreds of millions of people are directly affected by the consequences of the decisions taken without democratic oversight by financial institutions whose heads evade all sanction. The process of European integration is challenged as regards its most emblematic achievement, the single currency, and a return to the pre-euro national currencies is advocated in some quarters.

Despite successful experiences such as Brazil and India, which have managed to pair economic development with democratic consolidation, for over a decade we have witnessed the growing dominance on the world stage of countries that do not identify with democratic values while adopting the principles of liberal market economy.

Thus the idea has taken shape that economic development and winning of markets are not necessarily linked with the democratic character of the public institutions. Can the western model, linking economic development and pluralist democracy, evolve to meet the challenges of the 21st century? How to meet the expectations of the peoples subjected to the law of rampant liberalism only benefiting an elite? How are relocations to be forestalled and contained, generating growing unemployment as they do, and how are we to prevent the social dumping that distorts free competition? Are new rules of world trade founded on democratic ethics utopian, or quite conceivable in order to confirm democracy as a common asset of mankind?

  • Mr Jean-Claude Mignon (France), President of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
  • Mr Daniel Tarschys (Sweden), Professor of political science at Stockholm University, former Secretary General of the Council of Europe
  • Mr Sali Berisha, Prime Minister of Albania, on behalf of the Chairmanship of the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe
  • Mr Abdel-Ilah Benkiran, Head of the Government of Marocco
  • Mr Othmar Karas (Austria), Vice-President of the European Parliament
  • Mr Masahiro Kawai (Japan), Dean and CEO, Asian Development Bank Institute
  • Mr Alexey Kudrin, Former Minister for Finance of the Russian Federation
  • Mr Gérard Latortue, Former Prime Minister of Haiti
  • Mr Aristides Mejía, Former Vice-President of the Republic of Honduras
  • Mr Wolfgang Schäuble, Minister for Finance of the Federal Republic of Germany


Palais de l'Europe : Blue Restaurant

1:15 pm / 2:45 pm

Lunch debate (upon invitation)
"What democracy after the Arab Spring?"

Lunch debate hosted by the Secretary General of the Council of Europe and the President of the European Parliament

Introduction by:

  • Ms Asmaa Mahfouz (Egypt), activist and blogger
  • Mr Ahmed al-Senussi (Libya), member of the National Transitional Council
  • Mr Ali Ferzat (Syria), political cartoonist
Debate moderated by:
  • Ms Sylvie Kauffmann (France), « Le Monde »

1:15 pm / 2:45 pm


Lunch at the restaurant of the European Parliament for the participants


Thematic conferences

Palais de l'Europe : Hemicycle

A: Democraty: A universal value?

3:00 pm / 6:00 pm

Two decades after the fall of Communism in Europe, the bipolar world has given way to a multipolar world with the emergence of new players who may not necessary identify with the traditional values of pluralist democracy.

The democratic reform movements in hand on the southern shore of the Mediterranean and other parts of the world take their course in specific cultural environments which do not necessarly share western democratic values and models, without any clear alternatives really having emerged.

The place of Islam in society, and relations between religion and the State generally, secularity and separation of the public and private spheres, are more and more a subject of debate. Social mix of growing proportions, the ethnic and religious pluralism that characterise all our societies, create tensions fuelled and exploited by political forces of every allegiance. The economic crisis has merely aggravated social tensions, and some people advocate a societal model placing economic development before the rights and freedoms of the individual.

In the face of these phenomena, should the essential principles of individual rights be revisited? Are the values on which western democratic societies lie still current? Might not respect for everyone's identity, cultural traditions or religious convictions destabilise the very foundations of the democratic models? Are there intangible principles and values that transcend diversities? What might be the parameters of a putative model for democratic society in which everyone could see themselves irrespective of social, cultural and other differences?

  • Sir Nicolas Bratza, President of the European Court of Human Rights
  • Mr Boris Akunin (Russia), Writer, Co-founder of the Voter's League
  • Souhayr Belhassen (Tunisia), President of the International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH)
  • Mr Titus Corlatean, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Romania
  • Mr Alvaro Gil-Robles (Spain), Former Commissioner for Human Rights of the Council of Europe
  • Mr Vladimir Lukin, Human Rights Ombudsman of the Russian Federation
  • Mr Pietro Marcenaro (Italy), Chair of the Committee on Political Affairs and Democracy, Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe
  • Mr Federico Mayor (Spain), President of the Foundation for a Culture of Peace, former Director General of Unesco
  • Mr Pierre Morel (France), Director of the Observatory "Pharos" for the pluralism of cultures and religions, Paris
  • Mr Diego Garcia Sayan, President of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights

Palais de l'Europe : Room 5

B: Virtual values? Democracy and new social networks

3:00 pm / 6:00 pm

The 20th century went by in expectation of the advent of McLuhan's global village. The 21st century has commenced with the emergence of Facebook which has radically altered communication practices between individuals. The technological explosion of the media has become a major factor of political change. The "SMS" revolutions have arguably taken the place of tanks?

Each individual becomes a player in the global media sphere and a purveyor of information. Citizen journalism has developed considerably on the web, challenging the traditional media.

Twitter and the other social media have opened up a new area of freedom in which all can express themselves. The totalitarian regimes have been shaken by these new media which have often precipitated and furthered political changes by uniting civil society.

At the same time, this totally subjective and immediate information, lacking detachment or analysis, may be prone to all forms of exploitation or manipulation.

Should this new freedom be regulated? Or rather should the development of the blogosphere be given free rein at the risk of going off the rails and overstepping the mark? Can and should the actors of the blogosphere be subjected to a code of conduct? What is the attitude to take when political leaders censure or manipulate these new media? What stance should the economic players adopt, between collusion and compromise for the sake of preserving commercial interests, and resistance on the ground of democratic values and principles?

After the "2.0 revolutions", how can peaceful protest move on to management of affairs? How are the burdens and responsibilities of power to be shouldered without betraying the values carried by these revolutions?

  • Ms Kim Campbell, Former Prime Minister of Canada, Chair of the World Movement for Democracy
  • Mr Pavol Demeš (Slovakia), Transatlantic Fellow, German Marshall Fund
  • Ms Denise Dresser, Professor of Political Science, Mexico Autonomous Institute of Technology
  • Ms Barbara Lochbihler (Germany), Chair of the subcommittee on Human Rights of the European Parliament
  • Ms Asmaa Mahfouz (Egypt), Activist and blogger, Sakharov Prize winner 2011
  • Mr Krzysztof Olendzki (Poland), historian and diplomat, former Vice-Minister of Culture and National Heritage
  • Ms Ana Maria Rodriguez Rivas (Spain), Professor of Journalism and Communication, King Juan Carlos University, Madrid
  • Mr Luca Volontè (Italy), Member of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Chair of the Group of the European People's Party
  • Mr Aalam Wassef (Egypt), blogger and video producer
  • Mr Mikhail Zygar (Russia), Editor in Chief, "Dozhd" TV channel

Palais de l'Europe : Room 1

C: One size fits all? Democracy and globalisation

3:00 pm / 6:00 pm

The model of democracy founded on freely elected representation of the people, forged through the centuries, is increasingly confronted with new realities that dispute its foundations – and even legitimacy in some cases. The higher and higher rates of abstention in elections, the emergence of dissenting – and sometimes extremist – political forces bear witness to growing discredit of the traditional forms of democratic representation.

At the same time participation in the common destiny is avidly sought with citizen enlistment in all kinds of associations and interest groups, and with an explosion of communication through the social networks. Will Twitter supplant the ballot paper?

Longing for participation in civic life is a positive factor to be encouraged and sustained. However, gathering together the individual interests expressed in civil society cannot supplant representation of the public interest, a responsibility of the public institutions which must transcend personal interests.

How can the democratic debate be redirected towards the institutions of democratic representation? How are these institutions to adapt in order to meet the new challenges?

Are the institutions of democratic representation equipped to meet the new challenges of globalisation? How are these institutions to adjust to the transnational dimension of the problems and the interests at stake? Does the national (and even European) framework still suffice to tackle and solve the problems? Which structures and mechanisms are needed to reintroduce democratic choice at world level?

  • Mr Gianni Buquicchio, President of the Commission for Democracy through law (‘Venice Commission')
  • Mr Ashraf Ghani (Afghanistan), Chairman of the Institute for State Effectiveness
  • Mr Andreas Gross (Switzerland), Member of Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, Chair of the Socialist Group
  • Mr Willie Kwansing (Fiji), Secretary General, Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  • Mr Janez Lenarcic (Slovenia), Director of the OSCE Office of Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
  • Ms Jozefina Çoba Topalli (Albania), Speaker of the Parliament
  • Mr Keith Whitmore (United Kingdom), President of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe

8:00 pm


Dinner at the "Musée d'art moderne et contemporain de Strasbourg" (upon invitation)

1 Place Hans Jean Arp, Strasbourg


Under the auspices of the President of the French Republic

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