Institutions and beyond: Making democracy sustainable

11 July 2006
Fukuoka, Japan

Today, more people than ever before are governed by elected representatives.

Democracy – the idea that people have the right to control their government and that a government is legitimate only if and when it is controlled by the people – has acquired an almost unique global hegemony, hardly matched by any other worldview in modern history. It transcends cultures, religions and languages; it takes multiple forms and survives in the most inhospitable environments.

Democracy is an expression of the very basic human quest for freedom and dignity and of the understanding that these values need to be shared. The uneven propensity to share, and the need to define rules by which one’s freedom is limited by the freedom of all others, is what makes democracy-building so complex and time-consuming. Yet, the need and the willingness to share freedom are also what make the process of democracy-building possible.

About the Speaker

Secretary-General of International IDEA (2006-2013)
Vidar Helgesen

Vidar Helgesen is a former International IDEA Secretary-General.