CCD and UNITAR Co-Organize Democracy Education Panel at United Nations
September 24, 2012
By: Chris Brandt
The Council for a Community of Democracies (CCD) partnered with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) and the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) to organize a panel discussion on democracy education on September 17. The event commemorated the UN’s International Day of Democracy and took place at UN Headquarters in New York. Ban Ki-Moon, Secretary General of the United Nations, issued a statement that emphasized the importance of democracy education as a crucial element of democratic development.
In his remarks, Roland Rich, Executive Head of UNDEF, discussed the inherent messiness of democratic systems and the tendency for politicians to manipulate the political process for short term gains, which is why democracy education plays a crucial role in equipping citizens with the ability to grapple with those complexities
Robert LaGamma, CCD’s President, spoke about the fragility of democratic institutions that lack the sustained support of their citizenry. LaGamma also discussed the need to engage all stakeholders to advance democracy education:
“If we are to make progress in advancing the extent and quality of democracy education so essential for fragile democracies and countries undergoing democratic transitions, we must engage the energetic support of stakeholders from among educators, civil society, parents and officials in each country since every country’s program will depend on its own history and culture.”
The Permanent Representatives of Mongolia and Poland to the United Nations, Ambassadors Od Och and Ryszard Sarkowicz were featured speakers. Both discussed the role of the Community of Democracies (CD) in advancing democracy education. Poland and Mongolia co-chair a CD Working Group on Democracy Education. At an Ulaanbaatar seminar in May, the Working Group issued a Communique and Action Plan for stakeholders at the intergovernmental, national, and local levels to promote and expand democracy education. Mongolia, as chair of the CD, announced earlier this year that it is working with India to hold a conference for policymakers in New Delhi in January 2013. The Mongolian and Polish Permanent Representatives announced that they will introduce a resolution into this year’s session of the United Nations General Assembly, calling on members of the world body to work to advance democracy education around the world, and imploring delegations attending the event to support the initiative.
CCD’s LaGamma noted that his organization received a grant from the United Nations Democracy Fund for the purpose of supporting democracy education initiatives within the framework of the Community of Democracies. CCD will produce a Handbook of best practices, provide experts for the New Delhi conference, and conduct pilot projects in countries seeking help in developing democracy education programs.
Other speakers included Yvonne Lodico, Head of the UNITAR office in New York, who moderated the event; Roland Rich, Executive Head of the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF); and Philippe Kridelka, Director of the UNESCO Liaison Office in New York. In her remarks, Garcia discussed the OAS’s broad range of activities related to education for democracy.
For the full text of LaGamma’s speech, please click here.
For more information about CCD’s democracy education activities, please click here.