The Tenth Global Assembly
The World Movement for Democracy proudly announces the 2021 Global Assembly! With the theme “Towards Successful Transitions: New Opportunities and Emerging Challenges,” the World Movement is convening a series of conferences to:
- Empower civil society actors to make democratic transitions successful
- Mobilize global solidarity with those in severely restrictive environments
World Movement Assemblies gather the world’s leading experts on democracy movements, civil society activists, scholars, parliamentarians, thought leaders, journalists, and funders to discuss how we can help democracies thrive and grow. As they have since 1999, our Assemblies allow attendees to exchange practical knowledge and innovative approaches that they can use in their work, network with colleagues, and learn from each other.
Although the COVID-19 pandemic made it impossible to organize in-person gatherings as we had in the past, it did also give us an exciting opportunity to reimagine our Global Assembly. This year’s Assembly, running from April to July 2021, includes:
- 6 national-level discussions in countries such as Mali, Sudan, Tunisia, and Ukraine
- 5 regional virtual dialogues in Africa, Asia, Eurasia, Europe, and Latin America
- A virtual Global Exchange (July 7 & 8, 2021)
These activities will be facilitated by the World Movement Secretariat and a diverse set of World Movement participants. Through this locally driven approach, the World Movement aims to make the Global Assembly more dynamic and connected to our work on the ground.
Throughout the many events this year, we will examine our perennial topics of focus:
Transitions: In recent years many countries have successfully transitioned from unrepresentative forms of government into democracies, yet many of these transitions remain fragile. By exchanging lessons learned, the Global Assembly will help civil society activists develop strategies to overcome challenges and to ensure successful transitions.
Solidarity: Solidarity is at the core of what we do. We amplify the voices of democracy activists from many parts of the world and express unflinching support for those under threat. The Global Assembly will provide an important opportunity for democracy activists around the world to express their solidarity with each other collectively.
Global Exchange Agenda
July 7 -8, 2021
July 7: Democratic Transitions (8AM – 12:30PM, Washington DC Time)
Welcoming Remarks – Jose Ramos-Horta, Chairman, World Movement Steering Committee
Session 1: The Role of Youth in Democratic Transition: Building a Democratic Future
Objective: To discuss how young people project and implement their vision for democracy by consolidating democratic gains and strengthening institutions during a critical transition period.
Moderator: Risham Waseem, Maati TV, Pakistan
- Ruaa Bakri Mohamed Senada, Waey Association, Sudan
- Anna Bondarenko, Ukrainian Volunteer Service, Ukraine
- Margarita Maira, Ahora Nos Toca Participar (It’s Our Turn to Participate), Chile
Session 2: Innovative Project : Anna Dolidze – Eurasia Democratic Security Network, Georgia
Session 3: 10 Years After the Arab Spring: Tunisia’s Transition to Democracy
Objective: To understand Tunisia’s success and challenges (fostering the post-Arab-Spring political transition and safeguarding freedoms while addressing economic stagnation)
Moderator: Bassma Kodmani, Institute Montaigne, Syria (Steering Committee Member)
- Lobna Jeribi, Solidar Tunisie, Tunisia
- Ines Jaibi, Tunisian Youth Leaders, Tunisia
Session 4: DemocracyTalk with Jose Ramos-Horta, Former President of Timor-Leste & 1996 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, and Carl Gershman, President, National Endowment for Democracy (USA)
Session 5: Bringing Democratic Transitions Back on Track
Objective: To explore civil society strategies to overcome the challenges facing current transitions: socio-economic development, corruption, legal/institutional reforms, and malign foreign influence.
Moderator: Sook Jong Lee, Asia Democracy Research Network, South Korea (Steering Committee Member)
- Haykuhi Harutyunyan, Corruption Prevention Commission, Armenia
- Mauricio Alarcon, Fundacion Ciudadania y Desarrollo, Ecuador
- Ibrahim Suffian, Merdeka Center, Malaysia
Session 6: Innovative Project : Moussa Kondo, Accountability Lab, Mali
Session 7: Protecting Democracy from Backsliding
Objective: Freedom House’s Freedom in the World 2021 report observed “the 15th consecutive year of decline in global freedom.” During this period, illiberal forces have increasingly limited freedom of expression, freedom of religion, and minority rights, while consolidating their political power. This incremental erosion of democracy has been witnessed even in countries that were once considered consolidated democracies. By bringing together perspectives from leaders in political society, civil society, and independent media, the session will highlight innovative efforts for reversing this negative trend.
Moderator: Larry Diamond, Stanford University, USA
- Maria Ressa, Rappler, The Philippines
- Zoltán Kész, Civitas Institute, Hungary
- Medeni Sungur, Digimar Institute, Turkey
Session 8: Music Performance
- Cill, Nigeria
July 8: Solidarity Mobilization (8AM – 12:30PM, Washington DC Time)
Welcoming Remarks – Jose Ramos-Horta, Chairman, Steering Committee, Timor-Leste
Session 1: DemocracyTalk with Karen Bass (US Congresswoman) and Nicholas Opiyo, Chapter Four, Uganda
Session 2: Identifying Opportunities for Building International Solidarity in the Changing Global Political Context
Objective: To understand limitations in today’s global political environment and to identify new opportunities for stronger international solidarity
Moderator: Anita Vandenbeld, Member of Parliament, Canada (Steering Committee Member)
- Hakima El Haité, Liberal International, Former Minister of Environment, Morocco
- Conny Reuter, Progressive Alliance, Germany
- Jose Manuel Ormachea, Citizen Community, Bolivia
Session 3: Understanding and Designing the 21st Century Solidarity
Objective: to understand contemporary strategies for facilitating effective solidarity
Moderator: Glanis Changachirere, Institute for Young Women’s Development, Zimbabwe (Steering Committee Member)
- Antoine Bernard, Reporters Without Borders, France (Steering Committee Member)
- Daria Kaleniuk, Anticorruption Action Centre, Ukraine
Session 4: Presentations of Democracy Courage Tributes
Opening Remarks: Jose Ramos-Horta, Chairman, Steering Committee, Timor-Leste
Music Performance: Emel Mathlouthi, Tunisia
Remarks by the Hurford Foundation
Tribute Presentation: Independent Journalists in the Middle East and North Africa
Tribute Presentation: Advocates for Democracy in East Turkistan, Hong Kong, and Tibet Working to Build Solidarity and Resilience
Tribute Presentation: Artists Fighting for Freedom of Expression in Cuba–The San Isidro Movement
Tribute Presentation: Pro-Democracy Journalists in Burma
Regional and National Events
Since April 2021, the World Movement for Democracy has held a number of national and regional online discussions. Here are some highlights:
- Tunisia national online conference : Tunisia is the only Arab country that has succeeded in building democracy since the Arab Spring of 2011. However, Tunisia’s experience in this transitional period has not always been easy. This two-day event explored how Tunisians can keep their political transition on track while facilitating socio-economic development to deliver improvements in people’s lives. Discussion participants emphasized the importance of citizens’ engagement in developing a national development plan. They also discussed how corruption has significantly contributed to the current economic stagnation, a low level of the public’s confidence in government, and youth disillusion toward their country’s democratic future. To facilitate the discussion, participants shared the following:
- The Center for Insights in Survey Research, a project of the International Republican Institute (IRI), presented an analysis of an extensive survey of 1,200 respondents. The survey results provided a close look at Tunisian’s views on corruption in particular. View the survey report here.
- The Tunisian Institute for Training for Elected Public Offices made a short documentary film, which includes footage of Tunisians providing their firsthand account of corruption in their country. Watch it here.
- Ukraine national online conference: On April 28, 72 Ukrainians gathered to discuss civil society strategies to fight corruption: a main challenge to the country’s ability to become a stable democracy. The conference examined ways that anti-corruption civil society organizations, the business community, and pro-reform members of government can work together to reduce corruption. The example of a recent large infrastructure program which the Ukrainian government has embarked on, and the role of watchdogs in relation to it, was explored. Participants also discussed that media organizations need to improve their job at evaluating charges of corruption and shining a light on instances of it in a way that can produce change.
- Eurasia regional online conference: This three-day event gathered democracy activists and experts from Armenia, Georgia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and neighboring countries to discuss strategies and tools which have been effective in this region, as well as challenges. A regular theme was the impact of online media, as well as how citizen-responsive governance can contribute to reform processes at the local level.
On the first day of this discussion young activists from Armenia, Georgia, and Russia discussed how social media has been a double edged sword in the Eurasia region. On the positive side, it helped to facilitate the 2018 Velvet Revolution in Armenia and the Shame Movement in Georgia. On the other hand, it also has been used by authoritarian governments to spread fake news and defame civil society groups. Participants recommended that the public needs to be trained to recognize misinformation online, and that pro-democracy leaders must acquire the tools to more effectively combat disinformation online.
In the second day activists and experts from Georgia, Armenia, and Kazakhstan discussed how after many years of prolonged street protests there is a need for more constructive dialogues between governments and civil society actors, otherwise patterns will just be repeated. Each country has its own dynamic: for example, in Georgia, there are signs of state capture of civic space and in Armenia civic education is increasingly becoming a divisive political issue. But many participants stressed that in order to effect change, young people will need to become part of advocacy and deeper civil dialogue, not just members of street protests.
The third day examined mechanisms to improve accountability in the legislative process and multiple levels of government, and how to overcome cultural resistance to progressing on this issue. It was explored how the Soviet Union’s legacy on this region still impact the region’s political culture and how the region can find ways to ensure citizen-responsive policies reduce corruption, heighten inclusion of under-represented groups, and grow the national economy.