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H.H. the Aga Khan at the third Athens Democracy Forum

 
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 06, 2015 7:49 am    Post subject: H.H. the Aga Khan at the third Athens Democracy Forum Reply with quote

H.H. Aga Khan will be speaking at the third Athens Democracy Forum on September 15th.


His Highness The Aga Khan and Sir Richard Dearlove Join Speaker Line-Up for Athens Democracy Forum

08/06/2015

Additional expert speakers added to two-day conference about
the future of liberal democracy

LONDON, AUGUST 6th, 2015 - The International New York Times (INYT) announced that His Highness the Aga Khan as well as former head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, Sir Richard Dearlove KCMG, OBE have been added to the roster of leading figures speaking at the third Athens Democracy Forum on September 13-15th.

His Highness the Aga Khan will deliver a keynote address at the Stoa of Attalos. Sir Richard will participate in a panel debate about Islamist extremism and the threat it poses to Western democracies. Both will appear at the conference on Tuesday, September 15th.

Conference host and chair, New York Times Editorial Board Member, Serge Schmemann, also welcomes new speakers who include:

Kishore Mahbubani, Dean and Professor, National University of Singapore
Benny Tai, Associate Professor of Law, University of Hong Kong
Giorgos Kaminis, Mayor, City of Athens
Anna Diamantopoulou, Former Minister of Education and Former European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
Ed Husain, Author, Former Islamic Activist, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (New York)
Alan Rousso, Managing Director, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development

Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, President, International, The New York Times Company said:

“Democracy is based on the free and open involvement of individuals and organisations so we’ve strived to make sure our Forum represents that exact principle. It’s exciting to see even more high-calibre experts coming on board to engage in lively, informed debate about the challenges facing liberal democracies today.”

Coinciding with the UN International Day of Democracy in September 15th, topics under discussion will include:

The rise of regimes in states which reject the universality of liberal democracy;
The growing concentration of wealth and income inequality;
The rise of Islamist extremism;
New technologies: the opportunities they present and dangers they pose.

The UN International Day of Democracy will also see the world première of singer-songwriter and composer Rufus Wainwright’s “Prima Donna” opera. Performed in the ancient Herodes Atticus Theatre in honour of renowned American-born Greek soprano Maria Callas, the show will feature visual effects from photographer Cindy Sherman.

The International New York Times Athens Democracy Forum will take place at the Megaron, The Athens Concert Hall and the Stoa of Attalos of the Ancient Agora. It has been convened in cooperation with the United Nations Democracy Fund, the City of Athens, and Kathimerini.

Keep up to date with further speaker announcements at athensdemocracyforum.com and by following @NYTconf on Twitter.

-Ends-

Note to Editors:

Media accreditation for the Athens Democracy Forum is currently open. Accreditation requests must be submitted to press@athensdemocracyforum.com by Friday, September 4th. Please note that there will be no on-site accreditation. All accreditation requests are subject to final confirmation by the International New York Times.

The current speaker line-up, with more still to be announced, is:

High Highness the Aga Khan
Sir Richard Dearlove KCMG, OBE, Former Head of British Secret Intelligence Service
Paul Krugman, Nobel Prize winning economist and New York Times Op-Ed columnist
Paula J. Dobriansky, Former Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs (USA)
Valerie Plame, Writer, Member of the Global Zero Leadership Board and Former CIA Operative
Kishore Mahbubani, Dean and Professor, National University of Singapore
Eric X. Li, Venture Capitalist and Political Scientist
Benny Tai, Associate Professor of Law, University of Hong Kong
Alan Rousso, Managing Director, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development
Giorgos Kaminis, Mayor, City of Athens
Anna Diamantopoulou, Former Minister of Education and Former European Commissioner for Employment, Social Affairs and Equal Opportunities
Ed Husain, Author, Former Islamic Activist, Senior Fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations (New York)
Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, International New York Times President
Roger Cohen, New York Times Op-Ed columnist
Steven Erlanger, New York Times - London Bureau Chief
Alison Smale, New York Times - Berlin Bureau Chief
Liz Alderman, International New York Times Chief European Business Correspondent
Patrick Chappatte, International New York Times Cartoonist.

About the Athens Democracy Forum

Two years ago the International New York Times established the ‘Athens Democracy Forum’ under the auspices of the United Nations Democracy Fund. Through the UN Secretary-General’s endorsement it has become the principal global event of the International Day of Democracy which takes place every September at the Stoa of Attalos of the Ancient Agora – the birthplace of democracy - and other venues around Athens.

The New York Times Company

The New York Times Company (NYSE: NYT) is a global media organization dedicated to enhancing society by creating, collecting and distributing high-quality news and information. The company includes The New York Times, International New York Times, NYTimes.com, INYT.com and related properties. It is known globally for excellence in its journalism, and innovation in its print and digital storytelling and its business model. Follow news about the company at @NYTimesComm.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 07, 2015 10:17 pm    Post subject: More information Reply with quote

Aga Khan will give the Key note address in Athens on..
ENHANCING SOCIETY THROUGH BETTER GOVERNANCE ...

His Highness the Aga KhanConfirmed Speaker

At the site where the seeds of democracy were planted 2,500 years ago, the Athens Democracy Forum will reflect on the state of liberal democracies and the major challenges they face in the world today. The event will coincide with International Democracy Day and is presented in cooperation with the United Nations Democracy Fund and the City of Athens.
The 2015 Forum will focus on four of the most difficult democratic challenges: one is the rise of regimes in states like China and Russia which reject the universality of liberal democracy. Another is the growing concentration of wealth and income inequality, and the impact this is having on governance. The third is the rise of Islamic extremism and its vision of Western democracies as mortal enemies. The fourth is the rapid rise of new technologies; the great opportunities they present and dangers they pose. To assess these challenges and what they mean for democracy, the Athens Democracy Forum will convene scholars, diplomats, politicians, experts and journalists from around the world in ancient Agora, where statesmen, philosophers, artists and orators first proclaimed that people must be the ultimate source of governing power.
In addition to the conference, this year the Athens Democracy Forum will include a programme of affiliated enrichment events spread throughout the city.
MESSAGE FROM UN SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

The Athens Democracy Forum is proud to have the endorsement of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. View his message of support below.

Best Wishes
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2015 5:48 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

MESSAGE FROM UN SECRETARY-GENERAL BAN KI-MOON

The Athens Democracy Forum is proud to have the endorsement of United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon. View his message of support below.


http://www.athensdemocracyforum.com/pages/letter-from-ban-ki-moon
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 08, 2015 5:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote


Aga Khan to give key note speech 15 sept 2015


Aga Khan will give the Key note address in Athens on..

ENHANCING SOCIETY THROUGH BETTER GOVERNANCE

His Highness the Aga Khan

Confirmed Speaker

At the site where the seeds of democracy were planted 2,500 years ago, the Athens Democracy Forum will reflect on the state of liberal democracies and the major challenges they face in the world today. The event will coincide with International Democracy Day and is presented in cooperation with the United Nations Democracy Fund and the City of Athens.
>
> The 2015 Forum will focus on four of the most difficult democratic challenges: one is the rise of regimes in states like China and Russia which reject the universality of liberal democracy. Another is the growing concentration of wealth and income inequality, and the impact this is having on governance. The third is the rise of Islamic extremism and its vision of Western democracies as mortal enemies. The fourth is the rapid rise of new technologies; the great opportunities they present and dangers they pose. To assess these challenges and what they mean for democracy, the Athens Democracy Forum will convene scholars, diplomats, politicians, experts and journalists from around the world in ancient Agora, where statesmen, philosophers, artists and orators first proclaimed that people must be the ultimate source of governing power.
>
> In addition to the conference, this year the Athens Democracy Forum will include a programme of affiliated enrichment events spread throughout the city.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2015 10:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.un.org/democracyfund/sites/www.un.org.democracyfund/files/UU27.pdf

International Day of Democracy
in Athens and New York
UNDEF short list of over 50 new projects
The UN Secretary-General has approved a short list of 52 project proposals for UNDEF’s
Ninth Round of Funding, following recommendations by the United Nations Democracy
Fund Advisory Board. UNDEF has contacted those short-listed. Given the large volume of
proposals, UNDEF is not able to contact all applicants individually. Inclusion in the short
list is a significant achievement, but it does not in itself mean that the project proposal
will be approved for funding. Short-listed applicants are now required to complete the
final stage of the selection process -- negotiating a Project Document with UNDEF, which
is in effect a contract between the grantor and the grantee. Only on the satisfactory
conclusion of a project document, and its approval by the United Nations Controller, will
the proposed project be formally approved for funds disbursement. The next window for
project proposals is expected to open in mid-November. We encourage future applicants
to start preparing now by going to the UNDEF website and reading project proposal
guidelines, lessons learned for applicants, frequently asked questions and summaries of
existing projects.
To mark the International Day of Democracy on
15 September, the
Athens Democracy Forum
2015
will be be held for the third year by the
International New York Times in cooperation
with the UN Democracy Fund. The three-day
programme will include discussions at the Acropolis
Museum, the Old Athenian
Parliament Building, the
Megaron Conference Centre
and the Ancient Agora of
Athens -- the birthplace of
democracy. Speakers will
include His Highness the Aga
Khan; Sir Richard Dearlove;
Kishore Mahbubani; Paula
Dobriansky; Giorgis Kaminis,
Mayor of Athens; Paul
Krugman and Roger Cohen
of the New York Times; and
Annika Savill, Executive Head
of the UN Democracy Fund.
Themes will include the
question of whether liberal
democracy is universally
applicable; how the
widening wealth gap impacts
democratic governance; the
rise of fundamentalist movements; new media and
new access to public information.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a
message
of support that “gatherings like the Athens
Democracy Forum provide the much-needed
oxygen of dialogue... I am encouraged that you will
discuss many complex issues that are at the heart of
today’s democratic debate -- from multiculturalism
to modern media and the role
money plays in politics.”
At UN headquarters in New
York, UNDEF and its partners
in the UN Working Group on
Democracy will host a discussion
event on the theme “Space
for Civil Society”, in light of the
growing restrictions on civil
society organizations in a range
of countries.
Speakers will include the
Permanent Representatives
of Bhutan, Chile, Poland,
Sierra Leone and Sweden, as
well as representatives from
ActionAid International and the
International Center for Not-for-
Profit Law. The discussion will be
moderated by James Traub, columnist for Foreign
Policy and author of
The Freedom Agenda.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 19, 2015 5:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agenda Tuesday 15th - to add to website

6:30 PM
Opening Remarks

Stephen Dunbar-Johnson - President: International, The New York Times Company
Annika Savill - Executive Head, UNDEF: The United Nations Democracy Fund
Giorgos Kaminis - Mayor, City of Athens

VENUE: Stoa of Attalos
6:50 PM
Prime Minister's Address

Invited speaker: Alexis Tsipras - Prime Minister of Greece


VENUE: Stoa of Attalos
7:10 PM
Keynote speech
A keynote speech from His Highness the Aga Khan.



VENUE: Stoa of Attalos
7:30 PM
GLOBAL CONVERSATION: Paul Krugman and Sir Richard Dearlove, in conversation with New York Times Columnist Roger Cohen
VENUE: Stoa of Attalos
8:15 PM
Close of evening session
8:20 PM
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 10, 2015 8:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Follow the Live webcast at noon Toronto Time on 15th September 2015 on http://www.ismaili.net

Hazar Imam's keynote Speech will be 20 minutes but he may also participate in the Panel Debate.
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PostPosted: Mon Sep 14, 2015 8:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just learned this for the morning session tomorrow and it is of importance:

Canada’s former Governor General, the Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson will be the keynote speaker on Tuesday at the 3rd Athens Democracy Forum, organised by the International New York Times and Kathimerini.

Clarkson’s keynote address, which will focus on the crucial issue of migration, will be held on Tuesday, September 15 at 8:50 a.m. at the Athens Concert Hall.
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 15, 2015 11:23 am    Post subject: The speech in text Reply with quote

http://www.ismaili.net/heritage/node/31992


Bismillah-ir-Rahman-ir-Rahim

Former Prime Ministers
Ms Alkistis Protopsalti, Minister of Tourism
Your Worship, Giorgos Kaminis, Mayor of Athens
The Right Honourable Adrienne Clarkson, Former Governor General of Canada
Ms Annika Savill, Executive Head of the UN Democracy Fund
Mr Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, President, International, The New York Times Company
Excellencies
Distinguished Guests

I am grateful indeed for this opportunity to discuss with you the challenges facing democracy in our world – and to do so in such an appropriate setting. My warmest thanks also go to the people of Athens for their gracious welcome, and to my friends at the New York Times.

I have long admired – since my undergraduate days at Harvard – what the Times has meant to the pursuit of truth and justice in our world. And I have appreciated our opportunities to work together through our Diplomatic Academy in Paris for example, and also through the good counsel the Times provides for our media company in East Africa.

The topic of democracy and its challenges is one that I have followed closely for a long time, most intently in the developing world of South and West Asia, the Middle East and Africa, where so many members of the Ismaili community live and where so much of our development work takes place.

I assumed my role as Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims in 1957. It was a time when old colonial empires were crumbling and democratic hopes were rising. But too often, high expectations were not fulfilled. At the same time there was a crisis only a few years later, following the collapse of communist hegemonies.

It was expected that newly independent countries would be able to make huge economic and diplomatic choices between capitalism, socialism, alignment and non-alignment, even while they were fashioning new frameworks of governance. But it was a tough assignment. Often, when old autocratic orders yielded, new democratic orders were not ready to thrive or were walled in by political and ideological dogmas.

Today, all across the world, we continue to hear increasingly about “a crisis of confidence” in governments. While the pace of history accelerates, democratic governments often deadlock.

Scholars now count a growing percentage of countries as failed democracies. The Fund for Peace reports that in more than two-thirds of the countries regarded as the world’s most fragile, conditions have actually worsened this year. The enormous refugee crisis that now confronts us is one manifestation of that challenge.

I believe that the progress of democracy in our world is fundamentally linked to improving the quality of human life. The promise of democracy is that the people themselves best know how to achieve such progress. But if that promise is disappointed, then democracy is endangered. A UNDP survey of South American publics some years ago demonstrated that most people preferred an effective authoritarian government to an ineffective democratic one. Quality of life was the prime concern.

But what can we say then, about why democratic systems often fall short in their efforts to improve the quality of their constituents’ lives? Let me suggest four elements that could help strengthen democracy’s effectiveness in meeting this central challenge.

They are: improved constitutional understanding, independent and pluralistic media, the potential of civil society, and a genuine democratic ethic.

My first suggestion is that the current challenges to governance should be seen less as problems of democracy than as problems of constitutionality. There are more countries today than I can ever recollect before that are grappling with outdated constitutions – frameworks that seem unable to reconcile opposing factions, advance economic priorities, encourage civil society, or protect human rights.

But constitutional revision, especially in developing countries, is not easy. One problem is a poor understanding of comparative government systems. That subject is not part of most educational curricula, and in the countries I know best, the media rarely explain the logic or the options of constitutional change.

In some countries there actually is no clear constitutional means for constitutional change. Even when a referendum is held to validate such change, most people are neither prepared nor willing to express a considered judgment. The result is that governments in power often have an open field.

In my view then, a first step to better democratic governance is a better public understanding of constitutional principles.

It is easy for example, to say that we want government “of, by and for the people” – that governments should be servants of the people, and ultimately responsible to them. But that does not mean that most governmental decisions must be made by an enormous range of far-flung participants: by vast plebiscites, or popular referenda, or public opinion polling, or the number of hits on an internet blog. Such misapplied versions of democracy can produce irrational leadership choices and poorly informed policies. Sometimes, efforts to impose simplistic popular democracy can create voids of governance, which can be exploited to dangerous ends – and I have seen this in various countries in the developing world.

But then, who should make various governmental decisions? My response would emphasise the idea of balanced authority, including the concept of healthy federalism. For increasingly diverse societies, a constitution that divides and balances power is essential.

In discussing constitutional challenges, it is impossible to ignore the recent revival or creation of new theocratic political parties in the Islamic world. The question is how theocratic principles of governance can operate constitutionally in increasingly secular political environments. It seems essential to me that such principles should be regularly tested by the electoral process, if only so that the Muslim world can have a better understanding of the secularisation processes, which are inherent in western democracy. And democratic principles in turn, must respect the broad diversity of human faiths and cultures.

Finding the right constitutional balance is no easy matter, and we make a great mistake if we think that one size can somehow fit all. Effective constitutions must be adapted to a variety of cultural and demographic realities. But it can be done. One recent example is that of Tunisia, where after intense and arduous negotiation, a promising new constitution won broad public support. My central point, in sum, is that we cannot build better democratic performance over time without a better understanding of constitutional values.

A second key variable for enhancing democratic effectiveness is the critical role of competent and independent media voices. We often forget that ancient Greek democracy required a highly compact community living within the sound of a “crier’s voice,” as Aristotle said. Under such conditions, face-to-face dialogue could foster a sense of trust and political accommodation.

But these ideal conditions now obtain only rarely. Populations are much larger, more widely scattered, and more diverse. They can most easily be mobilised around vivid but superficial symbols and negative propositions. Often what counts most in our extended societies is not what one is for, but whom one is against.

In such circumstances, polarisation and impasse are constant risks.

Nor can we rely on advances in communication technologies to overcome the obstacles of distance and diversity. In fact, new media technologies have often made matters worse (and I don’t mean the New York Times!) From the development of written language to the invention of printing, to the development of electronic and digital media – quantitative advances in communication technology have not necessarily produced qualitative progress in mutual understanding.

To be sure, each improvement in communications technology has triggered new waves of political optimism. But sadly, if information can be shared more easily as technology advances, so can misinformation and disinformation. If truth can spread more quickly and more widely, then so can error and falsehood.

Throughout history, the same tools – the printing press, the telegraph, the microphone, the television camera, the cell phone, the internet – that promised to bring us together, have also been used to drive us apart.

The age-old promise of democracy is that social cohesion and public progress could be achieved by consensus rather than by coercion. But genuine democratic consent depends on dependable public information.

The danger in an age of mass media is that information also can be misused to manipulate the public. All around the world, authoritarian rulers increasingly use media to “coerce” the consent of the governed. Our hosts today, the International New York Times, recently published a remarkable description of this phenomenon under the headline, “The Velvet Glove.”

The power of a leader’s reasoning or the truth of his arguments, the report suggests, are often less important than his command of media influence. What results can be the illusion of democracy, but not its substance.

No, our technologies alone will not save us. But neither need they ruin us. It is not the power of our tools, but how we use them that will determine our future.

Among other things, this means prioritising the role of independent media, and indeed, of a multiplicity of independent voices. Demographic pluralism must be reflected in healthy media pluralism.

I mentioned earlier my own involvement in the African media scene – as founder of the Nation Media Group. It was launched at the time of Kenyan independence, and for nearly six decades media independence has been its watchword – a sine qua non for democratic health.

This leads me to my third observation. Government, while critical, can only take us so far. At a time of democratic disappointment, we must re-emphasise the immense potential of those non-governmental institutions that we call “civil society.”

Too often, our thinking is trapped in a false dichotomy. We talk about the public sector and the private sector, but we often undervalue a third sector – that of civil society.

Civil society is powered by private energies, committed to the public good. It draws on the ancient, classical link between democracy and the publicly-committed citizen.

It includes institutions of education, health, science and research, embracing professional, commercial, labour, ethnic and arts organisations, and others devoted to religion, communication, and the environment.

It seeks consensus through genuine consent. It can experiment, adapt and accommodate diversity. It can in the fullest sense be “of, by and for the people.” It can in the fullest sense be a remarkable support – but only on condition that is it sustained, accepted and encouraged by government.

Finally, let me mention a fourth concern that underlies this entire discussion – the central importance of fostering a “democratic ethic.”

At the heart of a democratic ethic is a commitment to genuine dialogue to achieve a better quality of life, even across new barriers of distance and diversity. This means a readiness to give and take, to listen, to bridge the empathy gaps as well as the ignorance gaps that have so often impeded human progress. It implies a pluralistic readiness to welcome diversity and to see our differences not as difficult burdens but as potential blessings.

One ultimate requirement for any effective democracy is the capacity to compromise. Social order rests in the end either on oppression or accommodation. But we can never find that balancing point – where the interests of all parties are recognised – unless competing leaders and their diverse followers alike, are committed to finding common ground.

That common ground, in my view, is the global aspiration for a better quality of life – from the reduction of poverty to quality longevity – built upon opportunities that will provide genuine hope for the future.

Democracy can only survive if it demonstrates – across the years and across the planet – that it is the best way to achieve that goal.

Thank you.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 6:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://www.dhakatribune.com/bangladesh/2015/sep/16/aga-khan-govts-must-improve-quality-life-democracies-succeed

Aga Khan: Govts must improve quality of life for democracies to succeed

Tribune Report

Improving the quality of life was the most important component of a successful democracy, said Aga Khan.

“I believe that the progress of democracy in our world is fundamentally linked to improving the quality of human life,” he said in a keynote address to the Athens Democracy Forum, an international gathering of diplomats, business leaders and opinion makers hosted by the International New York Times and the United Nations Democracy Fund Tuesday.

He cited the ability to understand constitutional systems, independent and pluralistic media, strong civil society and commitment to diversity and social dialogue as key elements in achieving the goal of improved quality of life.

“Democracy can only survive if it demonstrates, across the years and across the planet, that it is the best way to achieve that goal,” he said.

The Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network said political concepts and constitutional systems were often poorly understood to the detriment of democracy.

“One problem is a poor understanding of comparative government systems. That subject is not part of most educational curricula, and, in the countries I know best, the media rarely explain the logic, or the options, of constitutional change,” he said.

Aga Khan also argued that at a time when many citizens are losing faith in all forms of government, finding common ground around the global aspiration fora better quality of life is essential in providing genuine hope for the future.

While emphasising the need for pluralistic and independent media, he cautioned that quantitative advances in communication technology have not necessarily produced qualitative progress in mutual understanding.

“To be sure, each improvement in communications technology has triggered new waves of political optimism,” he said.

“But sadly, if information can be shared more easily as technology advances, so can misinformation and disinformation. If truth can spread more quickly and more widely, then so can error and falsehood. Throughout history, the same tools – the printing press, the telegraph, the microphone, the television camera, the cell phone, the internet – that promised to bring us together, have also been used to drive us apart,” he said.

He called for a renewed emphasis on civil society organisations, a sector that he felt was deeply undervalued and yet essential to democracy.

He argued that key elements of civil society ranging from education, to healthcare, to the environment cannot thrive and grow unless governments themselves support a healthy enabling environment.

Speaking at a time when society is witnessing increased polarisation, Aga Khan underlined the importance of fostering a democratic ethic, at the heart of which is a commitment to genuine dialogue about the means of achieving a better quality of life.

“This means a readiness to give and take, to listen, to bridge the ‘empathy’ gaps – as well as the ‘ignorance’ gaps– that have so often impeded human progress,” he said. “It implies a pluralistic readiness to welcome diversity – and to see our differences not as difficult burdens but as potential blessings.”
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 6:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

http://tribune.com.pk/story/958254/successful-democracies-aga-khan-urges-govts-to-improve-quality-of-life/

Successful democracies: Aga Khan urges govts to improve quality of life


By News Desk
Published: September 17, 2015


Prince Karim Aga Khan, the spiritual leader of the Ismaili community, has said that improving the quality of life is the most important component of a successful democracy.

“I believe that the progress of democracy in our world is fundamentally linked to improving the quality of human life,” he said on Tuesday in a keynote address at the Athens Democracy Forum, an international gathering of diplomats, business leaders and opinion makers hosted by the International New York Times and the United Nations Democracy Fund.

He cited the ability to understand constitutional systems, independent and pluralistic media, strong civil society and commitment to diversity and social dialogue as key elements in achieving the goal of improved quality of life, an official statement said.

“Democracy can only survive if it demonstrates, across the years and across the planet, that it is the best way to achieve that goal,” he said.

The founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network also said that political concepts and constitutional systems are often poorly understood to the detriment of democracy. “One problem is a poor understanding of comparative government systems. That subject is not part of most educational curricula, and, in the countries I know best, the media rarely explain the logic, or the options, of constitutional change.”

Prince Karim argued that at a time when many citizens are losing faith in all forms of government, finding common ground around the global aspiration for a better quality of life is essential in providing genuine hope for the future.

While emphasising the need for pluralistic and independent media, he cautioned that quantitative advances in communication technology have not necessarily produced qualitative progress in mutual understanding. “To be sure, each improvement in communications technology has triggered new waves of political optimism.”

But sadly, the Aga Khan went on to say, if information can be shared more easily as technology advances, so can misinformation and disinformation.

He called for a renewed emphasis on civil society organisations, a sector that he felt is deeply undervalued and yet essential to democracy.

The Ismaili community spiritual leader argued that key elements of civil society ranging from education, to healthcare, to environment cannot thrive and grow unless governments themselves support a healthy enabling environment.

Speaking at a time when society is witnessing increased polarisation, he underlined the importance of fostering a democratic ethic, at the heart of which is a commitment to genuine dialogue about the means of achieving a better quality of life.

Published in The Express Tribune, September 17th, 2015.
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PostPosted: Wed Sep 16, 2015 9:59 pm    Post subject: Re: The speech in text Reply with quote

mahebubchatur wrote:
The danger in an age of mass media is that information also can be misused to manipulate the public. All around the world, authoritarian rulers increasingly use media to “coerce” the consent of the governed. Our hosts today, the International New York Times, recently published a remarkable description of this phenomenon under the headline, “The Velvet Glove.”
The article being referred to:

The New Dictators Rule by Velvet Fist
http://www.nytimes.com/2015/05/25/opinion/the-new-dictators-rule-by-velvet-fist.html

But in recent decades, a new brand of authoritarian government has evolved that is better adapted to an era of global media, economic interdependence and information technology. The “soft” dictators concentrate power, stifling opposition and eliminating checks and balances, while using hardly any violence.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:46 pm    Post subject: Uganda: Democracy Key to Good Life, Says Aga Khan Reply with quote

allafrica.com/stories/201509181199.html

18 September 2015
The Monitor (Kampala)
Uganda: Democracy Key to Good Life, Says Aga Khan

Athens — The Aga Khan has said improving the quality of life is the most important component of a successful democracy.

"I believe that the progress of democracy in our world is fundamentally linked to improving the quality of human life," he said.

He cited the ability to understand constitutional systems, independent and pluralistic media, strong civil society and commitment to diversity and social dialogue as key elements in achieving the goal of improved quality of life

"Democracy can only survive if it demonstrates, across the years and across the planet, that it is the best way to achieve that goal," he said.

The Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network, made the remarks in a keynote address to the Athens Democracy Forum, an international gathering of diplomats, business leaders and opinion makers hosted by the International New York Times and the United Nations Democracy Fund.

The Aga Khan said political concepts and constitutional systems were often poorly understood to the detriment of democracy.

He also argued that at a time when many citizens are losing faith in all forms of government, finding common ground around the global aspiration for a better quality of life is essential in providing genuine hope for the future.

While emphasising the need for pluralistic and independent media, he cautioned that quantitative advances in communication technology have not necessarily produced qualitative progress in mutual understanding.

"Throughout history, the same tools - the printing press, the telegraph, the microphone, the television camera, the cell phone, the internet - that promised to bring us together, have also been used to drive us apart," he said.

He underlined the importance of fostering a democratic ethic.

Emphasis

The Aga Khan called for a renewed emphasis on civil society organisations, a sector that he felt was deeply undervalued and yet essential to democracy. He argued that key elements of civil society ranging from education, to healthcare, to the environment cannot thrive and grow unless governments themselves support a healthy enabling environment.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 5:50 pm    Post subject: Govts must improve quality of life for democracies to succee Reply with quote

pakistantoday.com.pk/2015/09/18/national/govts-must-improve-quality-of-life-for-democracies-to-succeed-says-aga-khan/


Govts must improve quality of life for democracies to succeed, says Aga Khan

September 18, 2015 BY Press Release



The Aga Khan has said that improving the quality of life was the most important component of a successful democracy.

“I believe that the progress of democracy in our world is fundamentally linked to improving the quality of human life,” he said. He cited the ability to understand constitutional systems, independent and pluralistic media, strong civil society and commitment to diversity and social dialogue as key elements in achieving the goal of improved quality of life.

“Democracy can only survive if it demonstrates, across the years and across the planet, that it is the best way to achieve that goal,” he said.

The Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslims and founder and chairman of the Aga Khan Development Network made the remarks in a keynote address to the Athens Democracy Forum, an international gathering of diplomats, business leaders and opinion makers hosted by the International New York Times and the United Nations Democracy Fund.

The Aga Khan said political concepts and constitutional systems were often poorly understood to the detriment of democracy.

“One problem is a poor understanding of comparative government systems. That subject is not part of most educational curricula, and, in the countries I know best, the media rarely explain the logic, or the options, of constitutional change,” he said.

The Aga Khan also argued that at a time when many citizens are losing faith in all forms of government, finding common ground around the global aspiration for a better quality of life is essential in providing genuine hope for the future.

While emphasising the need for pluralistic and independent media, he cautioned that quantitative advances in communication technology have not necessarily produced qualitative progress in mutual understanding.
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PostPosted: Sat Sep 19, 2015 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Democracy? YES! But what in situations where democracy destroys the life of "We The People"? What if Democracy allows foreign powers to plunder the treasures of the country under the garb of Democracy.

When we look at Irak (100% access to electricity, water, security, education, security, safety of national heritage) under the authoritarian rule of the dictator Saddam and we look at it today, one can but ponder on which Irak was better for the majority of the people and the country itself. Today there is a democracy that nobody wants nor respect, there is no peace, national heritage has been plundered, electricity and water are scarce, forget about education... All of the gold reserve of the then Irak central bank has been stolen by the American shouting "democracy, democracy" and the people have become miserable

The same has happened in Syria, When I went there in 2001, it was a beautiful country, Aleppo, Hama... all those places are nothing but ruble. Under the authoritarian Bashar al Assad, there was security, peace, education, respect of women... for women and men alike. All those values and assets have been lost in the attempted imposition of democracy. All the dreams and aspirations of the people of Syria have been shattered.

Under the "butcher" or at least this is how they portrayed him, Gaddafi's Libya was a self sufficient country with free Health care. When a person had to find Health care outside the country, Libya was paying the expenses for the family to take the citizen abroad and find cures. Education was guaranteed to all citizen, Today, there is no Libya, we have two failed states instead of one strong state and the flimsy dream of democracy is millions of years away. What was really Gaddafi's sin? Was it not to unite all of Africa? Was it not to unite Sunnis and Shias (his famous speech saying all Shias are Sunnis and all Sunnis are Shias)

Under the army rule of Musharaf, the Pakistan economy made more progress then under any so called democratic rules which only brought chaos with Mr 10% killing his wife, other democratically elected powers unable to tackle the terrorism problem and the corruption...

When Democracy is rigidly defined by cultures from outside the country, it can only bring destruction and despair. This is what we see in the world of today.

So today, we have to ask this question, Democracy Yes, but whose Democracy? What Democracy? Democracy at what cost?

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kmaherali



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 15, 2015 12:14 am    Post subject: Re: The speech in text Reply with quote

mahebubchatur wrote:

"I believe that the progress of democracy in our world is fundamentally linked to improving the quality of human life. The promise of democracy is that the people themselves best know how to achieve such progress. But if that promise is disappointed, then democracy is endangered. A UNDP survey of South American publics some years ago demonstrated that most people preferred an effective authoritarian government to an ineffective democratic one. Quality of life was the prime concern."(MHI Speech)

Half the Kids in This Part of India Are Stunted

Excerpt:

"India is a vigorous democracy that has sent an orbiter to Mars. Yet its children are more likely to starve than children in far poorer nations in Africa.

In a remarkable failure of democracy, India is the epicenter of global malnutrition: 39 percent of Indian children are stunted from poor nutrition, according to government figures (other estimates are higher). Stunting is worse in India than in Burkina Faso or Haiti, worse than in Bangladesh or North Korea.

Here in Uttar Pradesh, a vast state of 200 million people in India’s north, the malnutrition is even more horrifying. By the government’s own reckoning, a slight majority of children under age 5 in this state are stunted — worse than in any country in Africa save Burundi, according to figures in the 2015 Global Nutrition Report."

http://www.nytimes.com/2015/10/15/opinion/half-these-kids-are-stunted.html?emc=edit_th_20151015&nl=todaysheadlines&nlid=71987722
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