The quiet fights

16 September, 2011

This week we celebrated the International Day of Democracy. It is a day which cannot be ignored or forgotten, not least because of the current international climate and recent events such as the Arab Spring, and not forgetting, the quiet fights; every-day battles that go on in the name of democracy – unpublished and unpublicised.

As history reminds us, fighting for democracy is not a new phenomenon and until it is achieved by all, the fight will remain. Freedom of speech, the right to fairness, equality, and political freedom, are things that we in the UK take for granted. Indeed once democracy is obtained it is easy to forget how hard the fight was to achieve it.

As we move on from the Arab Spring and witness revolution, this weeks International Day of Democracy allows us to remember not just protests but those extraordinary individuals who, with the aid of mass support, fought in the name of such democratic ideals: Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Morgan Tsvangirai and Aung Sang Sun Kyi to name but a few.

Groups formed in the name of democracy such as the Chartists and, most recently, the National Transition Council of Libya, are also testament to the power of the people. Britain, through its promotion of the Arab partnership is actively involved in building the blocks for more open, free societies, underpinned by vibrant economies especially in Egypt and Tunisia where revival of the economy it vital to democratic success. The list could go on, but thats what is so fascinating about democracy.

Democracy cannot be spread by bombs and bullets, but with free speech, open debate, activism and Soft Power. Here at Wilton Park we intend to discuss the power of soft power, in an upcoming meeting, inviting opinion formers, policy makers, government and non-governmental organisations. In a climate that is anxious yet excited about the future of democracy, the power of individuals and groups to speak out and speak up needs to be nurtured, supported and encourage. Is Soft Power the future?


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