UNDEF marks International Day of Democracy in New York and Athens

UNDEF marks International Day of Democracy in New York and Athens

Day of Democracy in Athens

UNDEF co-organized events around UN Headquarters in New York and at the Ancient Agora of Athens on 16 September to mark the International Day of Democracy.

The New York invitation-only event, “Democratization at the Sharp End” brought together top-level UN officials who lead the UN’s work in the field, including Edmond Mulet, former Special Representative of the Secretary-General in Haiti and now Assistant Secretary-General in the Department of Peacekeeping Operations, Margaret Vogt, the outgoing Special Representative of Secretary-General in the Central African Republic, and Sanaka Samarasinha, UN Resident Coordinator in Belarus . They discussed the challenges and opportunities of integrating support for democratization processes in the day-to-day work of peacekeepers, special political missions, UN resident coordinators and their colleagues – all of whom must find ways to deliver on the UN’s normative foundations of democratization by contributing to it in practice in the field. Held at the International Peace Institute, the event was introduced by UNDEF Board Chairman Michael Doyle and hosted by the UN Working Group of Democracy and IPI.

The Athens Forum 2013: Democracy under Pressure , also by invitation only, was co-convened by the International Herald Tribune and Kathimerini in cooperation with UNDEF in the Ancient Agora of Athens -- the birthplace of democracy. The discussion, part of the Herald Tribune’s “The Global Conversation” series of high-level debates and panel discussions on key global issues, examined the state of democracy in the world and the pressure resulting from economic, social and religious factors. Participants included Antonis

Samaras, Prime Minister of Greece; Carl Bildt, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs and “the best connected world leader”, according to a new study of Twitter; Shashi Tharoor, Minister of State for Human Resource Development of India, the world’s largest democracy; New York Times columnist Roger Cohen; and Sultan Al-Qassemi, leading blogger and voice on the Arab Spring. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message to the Forum, the meeting place in the Agora reminds us that the practice of democracy is not a spectator sport – and that it is more like a marathon than a sprint.