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Democratic challenges July 27, 2006

Posted by Mary Reid in Commentary, Reflections.

mary_reid.jpgI promised to add my own comments from time to time – can’t possibly match Griff’s mega-contributions.

By 2.30pm yesterday the reception was filling up with familiar faces. When we finally began Dylan Jeffrey, the symposium director, welcomed us all, told us where the toilets were (not the plant pots apparently) and how to get a drink after the event.

The highlight of the afternoon for me was a passionate account of the democratic deficit in Arab countries by Najat Rochdi, the United Nations representative in the Arab World, and a previous Minister in Morocco.

She asserted that citizenship and participation are both weak in most Arab countries, and that this deficit in democracy contributes to the other deficits of gender, freedom of expression, poverty and education. ICT offers transparency and can be an enabler for change, but the challenge is to decide which model of citizenship to adopt.

It rather put some of our arcane debates inthe UK into some perspective.

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