Bali Democracy Forum VII
Evolving Regional Democratic Architecture:
The Challenges of Political Development, Public Participation, and Socio-Economic Progress in the 21st Century
The Bali Democracy Forum (BDF) has advanced significantly since it was first established in 2008. The BDF has gained increasing support and recognition from countries in Asia Pacific and beyond as the premier regional forum to encourage cooperation and to share views and experiences, aimed to promote democratic principles. The preceding BDF meetings has effectively explored and identified common principles on various aspects relevant to the promotion of democracy at national level in the region.
People’s expectation towards democracy is that the system will bring greater freedom to their lives – freedom of religion, of association, and of expression – and prosperity. The previous BDF meetings had recognized that democracy, development and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. Those meetings have emphasized that the essence of democracy is the participation of the people in decision making process.
The inclusive nature of Bali Democracy Forum maintains that every political development should be a home-grown experience. It is something that must be constructed on the basis of a nation’s own historical experience and cultural conditions. Furthermore, those meetings have underscored that democracy should provide impetus towards a more sustainable economic development. Democratic values like people participation, inclusiveness, accountability and transparency should be put to work in order to achieve economic development. This can be done among others by empowering people through eradication of poverty, ensuring gender equality, food security and access to education and health services.
The reality of living in a democratic environment is to deal with the existence of diverse religious, cultures, ethnics, social groups, and political beliefs background within a pluralistic society. It is a challenge for democratic governance to be able to guarantee the involvement of all elements in the society, including mass media and civil society, in the democratic process. It is therefore the previous BDF VI discussed in depth on consolidating democracy in pluralistic society.
In ensuring the sustainability of the democratic process to meet people’s expectation towards democracy, it is therefore timely to consider enhancing further cooperation and engagement among democratic countries, countries aspiring for democracy and beyond in order to preserve the dynamics of the democratic process within the pillars of democratic principles as well as to bring forward possible concrete action and share best practices as lesson-learned from peers at the regional level.
Bali Democracy Forum VII
Following the success of six consecutive Forums, the BDF VII will take place in Bali on 10-11 October 2014. The Forum will bring together political leaders and representatives of international and regional bodies, of BDF Participants and Observers to explore further ways and means to cooperate and engage in the shaping democratic architecture in the region.
Bearing the theme “Evolving Regional Democratic Architecture: the Challenges of Political Development, Public Participation, and Socio-Economic Progress in the 21st Century”, the Forum will explore possible ways and means to shape a democratic architecture in the region that produce some concrete deliverables and has the capacity to maintain a peaceful democratic governance. The deliberations will further explore potential measures in the context of preventive mechanism and positive engagement in its process.
During the two-day Forum, a general debate on the main theme and two interactive sessions on the sub-theme of “the Dynamics of political development and socio-economic progress” and “Promoting active, effective and meaningful public participation in the democratic process” will be convened.
The Forum will adopt a Chairman Statement, capturing the aspirations, ideas and measures derived from the overall deliberations of the Forum. It will also propose prospective programs in enhancing regional cooperation on democracy.
The Institute for Peace and Democracy (IPD) as implementing agency of the BDF shall translate the outcomes of the Forum into program which will be implemented with the support of all participating countries.
The Dynamics of Political Development and Socio-Economic Progress
The symbiotic relationship between political culture, democracy and development is intertwined and mutually reinforcing. Democracy and economic growth are closely linked through the emphasis on the provision of literacy, education, and communication. Moreover, democracies resolve social conflict through non-violent political solutions; therefore, democratic regimes tend to be politically resilient and stable. Nations that have been able to create political stability have been able to grow much faster than those that could not, regardless of the type of political regime.
In Asia, similar trend applies. In addition, socio-political culture in Asia that is characterized by a unique social ethic and colonialism provides varied democratic experiences across nations. Therefore, nuance of this democratic experience in the region provides political development and socio-economic progress and vice versa.
Despite this nuance, countries in the region are committed and have the capacity to contribute to the evolving democracy architecture in the Asia Pacific that enables countries to share with and to learn from each other’s experiences for continued progress and mutual support within the corridor of democratic principles.
In this session, speakers and participants will discuss concrete examples on how various levels of political development and socio-economic progress at country setting will contribute positively to the evolving democratic architecture in the region.
Promoting Active, Effective and Meaningful Public Participation in the Democratic Process
Public participation is an integral part of democracy. The definition of public participation in the democratic process is not only limited to the exercise of the right of the people to choose their public official through a free and fair election but also extended to the exercise of the right of the people to take part in the decision-making process as well as to ensure accountable implementation of public policies.
Public participation is also closely related to the involvement and engagement of all segments of the people, equally and without discrimination, including women, people with disabilities and other vulnerable groups. This is instrumental to ensure that public policy could optimally reach out to the people from all walks of life.
Other aspect of public participation that is of importance in the democratic process is to build credible institutions, serve not only as a check and balance mechanism, but also to ensure enabling environment for public participation, at the national and regional level. Several countries have developed mechanisms to strengthen the public participation, both in the decision making process as well as in enabling people to give feedback on the policy or program.
With regard to general election and decision making process, social media and polling centers have shown growing potentials as the stimulus for the enhancement of public participation and a “watchdog” of public officials. Leaders and public officials in Asia Pacific have been effectively using social media as the main medium for direct communication with the people. It is a fact that the intrinsic characters of social media, the interactions between public officials and the people, and the interactions among people, constitute a dynamic contribution of social media in the context of democracy itself.
In this session, speakers and participants will discuss on how to promote active, effective and meaningful public participation in the democratic process and how it will contribute positively to the evolving democratic architecture in the region.
POINTS OF DISCUSSION
1. The role of political development in individual country in shaping the democratic architecture in the region.
2. The impact of socio-economic progress at country level to the consolidating democracy at the regional level.
3. Measures taken at the regional level for continued progress and mutual support within the corridor of democratic principles.
4. How the countries in the region could come up with the enabling environment for public participation at national and regional level ?
5. Measures taken to create or to maintain the existence of credible institutions for functioning check and balances mechanism and for ensuring public participation in the democratic process.
6. The role of women and vulnerable groups in the decision making process and in ensuring the accountability of the implementation of public policy.
7. The role of social media in the political process, including in the context of elections.
the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Indonesia