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

Lebanese Media Unite to Support Palestinians in Gaza

Joint newscast billed as Arab world’s first unified news bulletin in support of Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip More

Photogallery Australian PM Alleges ‘Coverup’ at MH17 Crash Site

Meanwhile, Russia's ambassador to Malaysia denies plane's black boxes were opened before they were handed over to Malaysian officials More

Despite Advances in AIDS Treatment, Stigma Lingers

Leading immunologist tells VOA that stigma is often what prevents those infected with disease from seeking treatment More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Formi
X
July 22, 2014 10:26 AM
Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Relic of Saint Draws Catholics Worried About Immigration Issue

A Roman Catholic saint who is a figure of devotion for those crossing the border into the United States is attracting believers concerned about the plight of undocumented immigrants. Mike O'Sullivan reports from Los Angeles, where a relic of Saint Toribio has drawn thousands to local churches.
Video

Video Ukraine Rebels Surrender MH17 Black Boxes

After days of negotiations, a senior separatist leader handed over two black boxes from an airliner downed over eastern Ukraine to Malaysian experts early Tuesday. While on Monday, the U.N. Security Council unanimously demanded that armed groups controlling the crash site allow safe and unrestricted access to the wreckage.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.
Video

Video Nature of Space Exploration Enters New Age

Forty-five years ago this month, the first humans walked on the moon. It was during an era of the space race between the United States and the Soviet Union. World politics have changed since then and -- as Elizabeth Lee reports -- so has the nature of space exploration.
Video

Video Chicago’s Argonne Lab Developing Battery of the Future

In 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Science awarded a $120 million grant to a new technology center focused on battery development - headquartered at Argonne National Laboratory in suburban Chicago, Illinois. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there scientists are making the next technological breakthroughs in energy storage.
Video

Video In NW Pakistan, Army Offensive Causes Massive Number of Displaced

Pakistan’s army offensive in North Waziristan has resulted in the large-scale displacement of the local population. VOA's Ayaz Gul reports from northwest Pakistan where authorities say around 80 percent of the estimated 1 million internally displaced persons [IDPs] have settled in Bannu district, while much of the remaining 20 percent are scattered in nearby cities.
Video

Video Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong. VOA’s Jeffrey Young went out with the Peshmerga and filed this report.
Video

Video Malaysia Reeling: Second Air Disaster in Four Months

Malaysia is reeling from the second air disaster in four months involving the country’s flag carrier. Flight 340 vanished in March and despite an extensive search, no debris has been found. And on Thursday, Flight 17, likely hit by a surface-to-air missile, came apart over eastern Ukraine. The two incidents together have left more than 500 people dead. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Kuala Lumpur.

AppleAndroid