The Community of Democracies celebrates the International Day of Democracy

September 18, 2013

September 15 marks the International Day of Democracy, established in 2007 by the United Nations' General Assembly. This year the day was celebrated under the slogan of “Strengthening voices for democracy”. The Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies in Warsaw dedicated a week of events to the occasion, opeining its doors to friends and partners in the democratic journey.

On Tuesday, September 10, representatives of embassies of the Community's Governing Council member states kicked off the celebration. They participated in a special briefing at the Permanent Secretariat, in preparation for the upcoming meetings of the Governing Council, the Executive Committee and the U.N. Democracy Caucus.

Later that evening, members of the Women Diplomats of Warsaw convened at the Permanent Secretariat to take part in a special meeting, hosted for ths first time by the Community of Democracies, in cooperation with the Austrian Embassy in Warsaw. Club members listened to a discussion led by the Community's Secretary General, Ambassador Maria Leissner; the Ambassador of Bosnia and Herzegovina to Poland, Ambassador Kovilijka Spiri?; the President of the European Institute for Democracy, Dorota Mitrus; and the Director of the European Academy for Diplomacy, Katarzyna Pisarska. The four spoke about the role of women in democratic transitions, the special perspectives they bring to the transition, their needs, and the unique difficulties they face during the transition period- combining leadership with motherhood, facing traditional opinions on the role of women in the public sphere and promoting equal rights and participation were only some of the topics broached by the panelists and the club members.

On Wednesday, September 11, young professionals active in Warsaw gathered at the Permanent Secretariat for a special screening of the movie "A Whisper to a Roar". Representatives of embassies, civil society organizations, think tanks and government offices came to see, for the first time in Poland, the inspirational movie that tells how democracy activists in five different countries around the world battle for the establishment of democratic practices in their countries. The movie screening was followed by an empowering conversation on how to monitor democratic developments in the portrayed countries.

The following day, the Permanent Secretariat hosted the Warsaw Democracy Club for one of the most relevant democratic debates of the moment: the recent local elections in Russia. The Warsaw Democracy Club is a hub for leading democracy activists operating in various pillars of society in Poland. Ambassadors, government officials and well-known civil society figures listened to presentations by prominent figures in the Russian Political scene, who discussed the outcomes of the elections held on September 8. Lilya Shabanova, Director of the Golos Association for Electoral Rights, and Vladimir Milov, chair of the Democratic Choice party, joined the Club members at the Permanent Secretariat, while Vladimir Ryzkhov, co-chair of the RPR-PARNAS party, and Ilya Yashin, campaign manager for the party, joined by video conference. The four speakers were all deeply involved in the electoral campaign, and provided valuable insights. They also gave the Warsaw Democracy Club members the optimistic message that despite difficulties, and with a lot of hard work, the democratic opposition in Russia is on the rise. Indeed, it was a great way to top off the events celebrating International Democracy Day.