Better Democracy NZ is a non-partisan, non-profit organisation.

Our mission is to foster the improvement of New Zealand's democratic system and encourage the use of direct democracy through the

Veto, Citizens' Initiated and Recall referendum.

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Friday, 20 February 2009

International Week of Democracy 2008 - Aarau, October 1-4


IRI Europe is co-hosting the first global theme week on modern direct democracy to take place in Aarau/Switzerland on October 1-4. This international conference will

focus on global experiences and transnational potentials and among other issues deal with the challenges to participative and direct democracy in Europe after the Irish "No" to the new EU Treaty.

In recent years, many states around the world introduced direct-democratic procedures; in Europe, there has been a massive increase in the use of popular rights since 1989, and within the framework of the European Union, consideration is being given to the first ever implementation of a transnational instrument of direct democracy – the European Citizens’ Initiative.

Since 1990, initiative and referendum procedures have been introduced in nearly all the countries of Latin America; in Asia, too, citizens are now able to take part in decisions on substantive political issues in more and more countries.

As a result, there is a growing focus, not only within politics, but also in the fields of administration, academia, the media and civil society, on the qualitative aspects of modern democracy and questions are being asked about the legal potential and limits of modern direct democracy.

The autumn 2008 “International Week of Democracy”, hosted by the newly formed Aarau Center for Democracy at the University of Z├╝rich, together with IRI, the specialist European think-tank on citizens’ rights at the University of Marburg, and its partners, offers a global platform for an exchange of experience and expertise for practitioners and specialists from politics, administration, civil society and academia.

The event in the capital of the Canton of Aargau has a number of goals

1. to launch a public debate on the potential and the limits of direct democracy within the process of European integration (public event on October 2)
2. to present the latest and most significant research findings on citizens’ rights within the international context (academic forum organised by ZDA on October 3)
3. to prepare a global inventory of the procedures and praxis of citizens’ rights (global seminar on October 1 and 2)

One of the highlights during the International Week of Democracy will be a public event on October 2 at which the issue of the (in)compatibility of direct democracy and European integration in the context of the current debate after the Irish ‘No’ to the EU’s Lisbon Reform Treaty will be opened up for discussion.

At the heart of all the events will be the question of the compatibility of citizens’ rights and globalisation in general, and of direct democracy and European integration in particular: What, for example, is the development potential for participatory forms of democracy in so-called ‘transition’ countries? What role should be played by political education and research?

Another first for the Aarau International Week of Democracy will be the exploration by pro-democracy organisations from around the world of the possibility of creating a global network – within the framework of a “World Democracy Forum” – designed to facilitate an improved exchange of information and practical experience on direct democracy.

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