In collaboration with the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, the UN Alliance of Civilizations organized a symposium in Cairo July 27-28 2011 to compare the experience of democracy and democratic transitions in Turkey, Spain, and Portugal to the ongoing changes in Egypt.
Democracy is never made. Rather, it is always in the making. Each country is unique with its own specificities, against its own particular backdrop. But all cases are identical in their search to realize certain values and principles: human rights for all, through a form of government in which all citizens are equal, and have equal say in decisions that affect their lives. This is why an exchange of experiences on building democracy, between political leadership and the grassroots, is useful in finding answers to various dilemmas that societies face at such critical junctures.
Held at the Arab League’s Headquarters in Cairo from July 27-28 2011, this event brought together a number of high-level speakers—including Jorge Sampaio, former President of Portugal and High Representative of the UNAOC; the foreign minister of Egypt; and the Secretary-General of the Arab League, among others—alongside activists, lawyers, and experts from Egypt and elsewhere.
Based on the results of this first convening, a follow up session will likely take place around the time of the Lisbon Forum, which is a joint initiative of the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe and the UNAOC in Portugal on November 2-3 2011.
This symposium is an initiative put forward by a wide range of partners: the League of Arab States; the Ministries of Foreign Affairs of Egypt, Portugal, Spain and Turkey respectively; the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance; the Arab Forum for Alternative Studies; the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation; the University of Lisbon; the Internacional de Toledo para la Paz; the Portuguese Institute for International Relations; the Instituto de Defesa Nacional; the North-South Centre of the Council of Europe; the Canada-Egypt Business Council; and Cimentos de Portugal.