• Warsaw Dialogue for Democracy



  • Democracy 2.0


    Session 1: Social media - potential or threat? [European Endowment for Democracy]


    The invited panelists will provide a critical look at the role of social media in society, especially in the wake of fake news and wide-spreading disinformation campaigns. These new phenomena affect general public’s access to a verified and reliable information and as such pose challenges to democracy – hence the authorities’ temptation to regulate this matter in a stricter manner, which may further restrict the full enjoyment of human rights.


    The panel will thus also reflect on freedom of expression and obligations of journalists particularly in the light of 21st century’s convergence of social media and democracy. An open conversation on the potential pitfalls of the Internet era will lead to a set of recommendations on how to sharpen the ‘social media literacy’.


    Session 2: New tools of civic and public responsibility [Community of Democracies]


    The panelist will reflect on the new form of civic life in the information age. Technology enables human rights defenders and NGOs to be more successful and effective in their work, assuming in parallel new responsibilities for the public actors. New means of participation in old institutions stimulate a new civic life but at the same time force us to face unprecedented challenges. The question of civic control, transparency and the role of whistle-blowers in the era where anyone claims their right to control need to be redefined.


    New communication and media technologies have made it easier for adolescents to participate in the public debates and shape public policy. Younger generation - the main users and beneficiaries of the rapid technological acceleration - is currently assuming new leadership positions, therefore their involvement in the public sphere may take a new form. Whilst states must respond to those newly voiced needs by providing adequate and affordable civic education, they ought to ensure they do so by utilising attractive methods if the youth is to be fully engaged.


    The discussion will explore possible implications for civic life and public sphere, bearing in mind that the skills of citizenship are evolving along with technological advancement.


    Session 3: Free elections in modern times [Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights]


    Free elections have always been perceived as a primordial condition of all democracies. This direct exercise of democracy has always faced challenges which justify the continuous commitment to election monitoring undertaken by the international socjety.


    Relatively young Polish democracy with its post-communist electoral experience could provide with an unique input to the discussion about new legislative solutions in modern times. This will serve as a starting point for a discussion of new electoral tools that are becoming increasingly popular in the world, whether electronic voting, voting by proxy or via the Internet.


    New technologies enabling inclusiveness and participation of the broader parts of society, together with algorithms influencing the debate online mark the birth of the new democracy 2.0. The panel will explore new factors that affect deliberation process and could serve as a potential leverage in the democratic debate.


    Session 4: Innovative approach to conflict prevention [Polish Institue of International Affairs]


    The changing scope and nature of today’s conflict pose a significant challenge to the universal commitment grounded in the UN Charter to “save succeeding generations from the scourge of war”. Seemingly local violent conflicts and wars often cross national borders and spill over into regional and international levels. Internal and international security is interlinked, and, hence the effective and comprehensive conflict prevention activities also improve security at national level.


    Besides, the evolution of conflicts unveiled loopholes of the international law and faced the international community with a challenge to adjust mechanisms created a few decades ago. The modern world, plagued by asymmetrical and hybrid threats as well as underdefined conflicts, confronts us with necessity to find practical and legal solutions to such problems. However, current dynamic international situation cannot let us forget principles – right of people to self-determination, rule of inviolability of borders, obligation to observe international humanitarian law. Our attachment to the international legal order is essential to build, for us and for future generations, the world based on the force of law and not on the law of force.


    As a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council Poland attaches particular importance to conflict prevention and mediation. It is also cohesive with the vision and efforts of the United Nations Secretary General António Guterres to streamline conflict prevention and sustaining peace as a UN priority and to implement holistic approach to sustaining peace agenda covering the pillars of security, human rights and development. 


    In the context of conflict prevention, there is also an urgent need to realize the potential of 1,8 billion young people globally to benefit from their support and contribution to peace. Empowerment and participation of youth are indispensable to enhance inclusivity and equality of our societies. Young people are the cornerstone of sustainable development and lasting peace since they are agents of innovation, development and change.


    Practical workshop 'The intersection of youth and the influence of modern technologies and social media on democracies around the world' [ODIHR]


    The current narrative in many places in Europe is that young people are disengaged from civic and political life, expressed through a kind of “political apathy.” Low voter turnout rates, extremely low rates of political party membership, and/or lack of knowledge to make informed electoral decisions are often cited as evidence of such apathy. However, conventional metrics used to measure political engagement do not typically include non-electoral/formal political engagement, such as volunteering, information-sharing, and other issue-based activism and advocacy. These “non-formal” engagement methods are typically favored by young people, many of whom are seeking creative engagement tools in order to share their perspectives and influence policy- and decision-making. New information and communication technologies (ICT), including social media and online platforms, offer a range of civic engagement opportunities for young people, from the ability to identify and research issues of importance, to information-sharing and connecting with like-minded peers on any given subject. These tools represent an avenue for public participation, ensuring multiplicity of voices in the public sphere.


    Approximately 65% of the population in the OSCE region is online, and as global mobile-cellular penetration approaches 100%, we are witnessing how new technologies’ further challenge traditional democratic institutions to reinforce democracy and accommodate these new tools vis-à-vis constituent service delivery and functional mandates. Of particular significance during this transition is the role that new technologies can play in the relationship between democratic institutions and citizens, as these platforms open new avenues for communication, advocacy, and accountability.            


    This provocative and interactive workshop will explore themes related to the intersection of young people and the influence of modern technologies, most notably social media, on democracies in Europe and beyond. The invited discussants will provide examples of successful modern engagement tools in light of various barriers to youth political engagement.


    Full concept note and workshop programme is avaialbe here.


    Community of Democracy’s side-event related to the publication “Best practice in Community of Democracies’ member states engagement with and protection of civil society”


    In an effort to lead by example, and in support of the principles outlined in the Civil Society Standards, the Permanent Secretariat of the Community of Democracies (PSCD) developed a publication on “Best practice in Community of Democracies’ member states engagement with and protection of civil society”.


    This publication was funded by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office of the United Kingdom, within the framework of the project: “Designing new guidelines by which citizens, civil society organizations and governments can work better together”.


    The event will consist of the presentation of the publication and a panel discussion on best practice and challenges for the protection of and engagement with civil society.


    The side-event will serve as an opportunity to discuss the findings of the publication. Tentative points of discussion may include:  

    • General trends in civil society space in CoD Governing Council member states.
    • Examples of enabling civil society legal frameworks.
    • Specific steps that have been taken by states to create a safe and enabling environment for civil society.
    • Particular challenges faced by civil society organizations, and steps that states can take to protect civil society organizations.
    • Further recommendations and areas of future research on engagement and protection of civil society.

    Full concept note and event programme is avaialbe here.

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