“Democracy and Conflict” is the theme of this year’s International Democracy Day, and as the UN Secretary General has stated in his message ahead of the day: “The International Day of Democracy is an opportunity to recommit to a world defined by values enshrined in the United Nations Charter: peace, justice, respect, human rights, tolerance and solidarity. To work credibly for conflict prevention, we need to better support countries in their efforts to strengthen their democratic institutions and make their societies more resilient.”
DIPD’s Global Head of Programmes, Hanne Lund Madsen, explains how the institute’s work relates to this year’s theme: “As DIPD is supporting and strengthening dialogue between political parties and also between parties and Election Management Bodies, CSOs and the media, our engagements also help prevent conflict and polarization in many ways. Multiparty democratic practices are in themselves a peaceful manner of accommodating and settling conflicts of interests.”
As an example, DIPD is currently supporting the political party group in the Myanmar peace processes and dialogues. In the coming period, DIPD will work in support of and partnership with the party group to enhance dialogue and capacity development for parties, making them more effective participants in the process of re-imagining a democratic federal union for Myanmar. DIPD has supported the political parties of Myanmar in developing consensus-based policy proposals to the peace process in preparation for the third meeting of Myanmar’s Union Peace Conference, also known as the 21st Century Panglong Conference, which will be held later in 2017.
The link between democratization and conflicts
In several countries, DIPD supports multiparty dialogue mechanisms, enabling parties to discuss issues of common concern outside the limelight of the parliament and media, and thereby better find ways to tackle these issues. But as Hanne Lund Madsen explains, the processes are not always free from conflict: “We also experience internal party and leadership conflicts in our work, as for example in one of the opposition parties in Tanzania. It is therefore very useful for DIPD to be engaged with the research project CODE at Aarhus University.”
CODE is looking to understand the correlation between democratization and conflict and how it plays out on different levels – from an international level to the level of individuals. In collaboration with practitioners from NGOs and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Denmark, the researchers will focus primarily on factors that can be influenced by actors – including international ones – in the short and medium term. For instance, are some electoral systems less prone to conflict than others? And how are we to curb and possibly resolve escalating conflicts without undermining the perspective for democratization?
On a more concrete level, DIPD is ensuring that our international partners receive relevant education in conflict handling, as Hanne Lund Madsen explains: “To help address conflicts, DIPD is developing a dialogue and conflict training module that can facilitate better conflict handling both between and within parties. Moreover, we are cooperating with Danida Fellowship Centre and having several of our partners participating in the Centre’s Dialogue and Conflict Transformation course in Denmark in late November.”
Contact Senior Program Officer at DIPD, Martin Rosenkilde Pedersen at email@example.com