PHNOM PENH, 15 SEPT 2009: Democracy in Cambodia is founded on the right of its citizens to take part in shaping the future of the country. Integral to upholding this democracy is tolerance and commitment by all, including a country’s elected representatives. This was the message of today’s celebration of International Day of Democracy at the Cambodian National Assembly.
To mark the second annual International Day of Democracy, the Cambodian Parliament invited international parliamentarians and local Ambassadors to lead discussions on the day’s theme: Democracy and Political Tolerance.
Speakers from both Houses of Parliament, civil society, the international community, Senate of the Philippines and the media examined individual and collective roles and responsibilities in ensuring the country continues to deepen its democratic practices and procedures.
“Today provides an opportunity to reflect on how far the nation has come since its first democratic elections in May 1993. It is also a time to consider our individual and collective roles and responsibilities in ensuring the country continues to deepen its democratic practices and procedures,” UN Resident Representative Douglas Broderick said at the seminar.
The Inter-parliamentary Union chose the theme of this year’s International Democracy Day because the “lack of political tolerance is a problem everywhere… Political tolerance means accepting and respecting the basic rights and civil liberties of persons and groups whose viewpoints differ from one's own. All citizens, including political leaders, have a responsibility to practise political tolerance in their words and actions.”
The seminar included a discussion led by Phillipino Senator Aquilino Pimentel and moderated by the German Ambassador to Cambodia Frank Mann on political tolerance and freedom of speech. Panellists include representatives from five different political parties: The Cambodian Peoples’ Party, Sam Rainsy Party, FUNCINPEC, Norodom Ranarridh Party and Human Rights Party.
Other discussion topics included: Cambodia’s democratic journey, the role of the Cambodian Human Rights Committee in promoting democracy in Cambodia, and managing diversity and promoting inclusiveness in decision making. Malaysian MP Fuziah Salleh also presented a paper on the role of Parliament in strengthening democracy.
A Democracy Day Fair showcased the work being done by civil society organizations, NGOs and UN agencies towards strengthening democracy in Cambodia.
This celebration of International Day of Democracy was supported by the UNDP Legislative Assistance Project (LEAP), Konrad Adenauer-Stiftung and the Inter-parliamentary Union throughthe Technical Coordination Secretariat (TCS) of the Cambodian Parliament.
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- Related topics: Democratic Governance