The 2030 Agenda embraces a transformative vision of peaceful and inclusive societies, access to justice and inclusive, accountable institutions that deliver sustainable development. Democratic transformations have marked the last 25 years in many ways and in many countries. None of them was inevitable. Each of them was deeply rooted in the local political, social and economic context. And yet, they coped with similar challenges that have emerged again during recent attempted transitions to democracy in the Arab world, Asia, Africa, and elsewhere.
With this in mind, International IDEA, the Permanent Mission of Chile to the UN and the Community of Democracies are co-organizing a Side Event within the margins of the General Debate of the 70th Session of the United Nations General Assembly on “Transitions to Democracy and Sustainable Development: Lessons from Country Experiences” on Wednesday, 30 September 2015 from 17:00 to 19:00 (EST). The Side Event will address whether lessons from successful experiences of democratic transition over the last decades are relevant to the current efforts of democratization in different regions of the world. The event will emphasize the trade-offs between short-term political reforms and long-term sustainable development gains. It will also consider the important role of leadership in transitions by addressing the role played by leaders in concrete situations of political, economic and social change that in each national context characterized complex and intricate transitions to democracy.
Empirical findings of a new book edited by Abraham Lowenthal and Sergio Bitar,Democratic Transitions: Conversations with World Leaders (Johns Hopkins University Press, 2015) will provide the basis for an interactive debate on the recurrent challenges all transitions face. The research distilled lessons from a set of thirteen in-depth interviews with national leaders who played key roles in transitions to democratic governance in Brazil, Chile, Ghana, Indonesia, Mexico, the Philippines, Poland, South Africa and Spain.