Concluding Panel of the Seminar on Democratic Transitions: Valérie de Campos Mello (UNDEF), Bjoern Foerde (UNDP Oslo Governance Centre), István Gyarmati (ICDT), Magdy Martinez Soliman (UNDEF), Jorn Grunewald (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung) and Anita Orbán (ICDT)
23-24 April 2007
The expert meeting entitled “The experience of democratic transitions: Lessons learned from democracy assistance”, jointly organized by the United Nations Democracy Fund (UNDEF) and the International Centre for Democratic Transition (ICDT), took place on April 23-24 in the meeting room of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Hungarian Parliament in Budapest. The International Centre for Democratic Transition (ICDT) is an independent institute established by a non-partisan public foundation of the Hungarian government, with the mission to collect the experience of past democratic transitions and to share it with those who are determined to follow that path
The goal of the expert meeting was to offer a space to exchange concrete experiences and knowledge between democracy-assistance actors interested in working to support democratic transitions and to create an informal network among these actors. It also aimed at analyzing best transitions strategies implemented by national and regional actors and best practices in the assistance to these strategies.
The meeting was organized on the basis of geographic areas where transitions have had common trends: Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia, Latin-America, in particular the South Cone and Central America, and Africa. It discussed themes that have been considered critical for successful transitions such as transitions to a market-based system and the political evolution towards multi-party elections as well as the pressure of poverty on democratic institutions and the impact of inequality on democracy.
The meeting concluded with policy recommendations and lessons learned that will be published as a joint policy paper by the ICDT and the UN Democracy Fund.
Participants of the seminar included Mr. Albert Ramdin, Assistant-Secretary General of the Organization of American States, Mr. Vidar Helgesen, Secretary General of International IDEA, Mr. Rolf Timans, Human Rights and Democracy Director of the European Commissions Directorate for External Relations, Mr. László Szoke from the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as well as representatives of the Governments of Sweden, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Mali, Mongolia, Hungary, the German Friedrich Ebert and Konrad Adenauer Foundations as well as civil society organizations such as the Belgrade Fund for Political Excellence, the Open Society Institute and Freedom House. Several ambassadors also represented their nations at the event. The meeting was jointly funded by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation and the Konrad Adenauer Foundation.
At the occasion of the meeting, UNDEF and ICDT signed a partnership agreement. The ceremony took place at the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, where participants and guests were greeted by His Excellency Gábor Bródi, Hungary’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations. The partnership agreement was signed by István Gyarmati, Director of ICDT and Magdy Martinez-Soliman, Executive Head a.i. of UNDEF. The goal of the partnership is to create a general framework in which both parties can support efforts of democratization worldwide in light of their common interest. It encompasses various levels of cooperation such as exchanging information, performing continuous consulting, connecting the two organizations’ websites, circulating each other’s publications, and any further activities the parties agree on.
The meeting demonstrated that there is a high degree of interest in developing a practice of democracy support and that governments, civil society and academia turn naturally to the UN, and in particular to the UN Democracy Fund, to perform the role of convener and provider of strategic policy advice, recommendations and lessons learned. Participants expressed the wish to see this dialogue continue, including through the promotion and funding of similar practice-oriented meetings in the future.
[BUDAPEST SEMINAR FINAL PROGRAM] | [STATEMENT BY EXECUTIVE HEAD OF UNDEF] | [STATEMENT BY ASSISTANT SECRETARY-GENERAL (OAS)]