News / Asia

Heads of State Gather in Bali to Discuss Global Democracy

Leaders attending the Bali Democracy Forum pose for a group photo in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 8, 2012.Leaders attending the Bali Democracy Forum pose for a group photo in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 8, 2012.
x
Leaders attending the Bali Democracy Forum pose for a group photo in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 8, 2012.
Leaders attending the Bali Democracy Forum pose for a group photo in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 8, 2012.
Kate Lamb
Heads of state from Afghanistan to Australia gathered on the resort island of Bali Thursday for the opening of the fifth Bali Democracy Forum. Tensions in Syria and criticism of the United Nations Security Council are the hot topics of the day - as were scathing comments by the Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
 
Debate at Thursday’s forum centered on the relationship between democratic principles and global peace and stability.
 
Referring to the protracted conflict in Syria, the Indonesian president emphasized the obligations of the international community.
 
“In the case where central authority fails to protect their own citizens, we are left with the question as to who should protect them. In my opinion, the international community should step in to prevent further humanitarian tragedies, to fulfill its responsibility to protect," he said. "On the one hand, such steps should fully respect the territorial integrity and sovereignty of the country concerned."
 
But the president and several other leaders, also criticized the exclusivity of the U.N. Security Council.
 
Given the U.N.’s failure to end the humanitarian conflict in Syria, forum participants agree the United Nations must play a more effective and more multilateral role, in settling conflicts.
 
South Korean President Lee Myung Bak reminded leaders not to lose sight of rights abuses in North Korea, emphasizing the moral role of the global community in the oft-described rogue state.
 
But rejecting what he saw as rhetoric, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad argued that contemporary democracy leaves little to emulate.
 
“In practice, democracy has turned into the rule of the minority [over the majority] and most of the people are deprived of the rights to play a determining role in the fundamental decision of the society," he said.
 
Ahmadinejad - whose own re-election in 2009 was accompanied by accusations of fraud - drew on the recent U.S. presidential election to argue that a capitalist elite is hijacking democracy.
 
“Elections, which is one of the manifestations of people's will, has become a battleground for the capitalists and an excuse for hefty spending. That is why many of the independent and pure-hearted elements don't get a chance to be part of governance," he said. "Justice, freedom and human dignity have all been sacrificed for the interest of a group of minorities."

This is Ahmadinejad’s first time at the event, which is focused on promoting peace and democracy in the region and globally.
 
Other high-profile leaders in attendance include Thai Prime Minster Yingluck Sinawatra, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pallay.

You May Like

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video Survivor Video Testimonies Recount Horrors of Guatemalan Genocide

During a conflict that spanned more than three decades, tens of thousands of indigenous Mayans were killed More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs