The World Forum for Democracy, an initiative of the Council of Europe, will be held in Strasbourg from 5 to 11 October 2012 on the theme "Bridging the gap: democracy between old models and new realities".
What forces will be shaping democratic societies in the future? Will the emerging voices of the Arab Spring bring about lasting stability? And can they be a source of inspiration for reforms in established Western democracies? These are amongst topics that will be debated by over one thousand people from about one hundred countries in an attempt to determine how democracies can respond to citizens' expectations, while respecting their diverse values and traditions. Leading public figures, political and academic experts, national and European parliamentarians and local elected representatives will participate in the discussions alongside civil society activists, bloggers and members of the public.
The Forum will be opened by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Nobel Peace Prize winner for 2011 Tawakkol Karman and Tunisian President Moncef Marzouki. Immediately after the opening addresses, Morocco's Head of Government Abdelilah Benkirane, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble and a number of other international figures will discuss the relationship between democracy and the economy. The closing session, on Thursday 11 October, will be addressed by Nawal El Saadawi, the Egyptian writer and winner of the North-South Prize for 2004.