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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs