"The United Nations International Leadership
Institute's Democratic Governance initiative represents a meaningful
effort by the international community to support democratic capacity,
a culture of democracy, and a framework of democratic institutions,
in a region where the democratic deficit imperils the entire world,"
said Akaash Maharaj at the conclusion of the first day of talks.
"I am optimistic about our prospects, though I have no illusions
about the challenges we face."
The UN ILI is bringing together elected MPs
from across the Arab world, in a set of structured talks to help
them grow their countries into true democracies. The talks also
involve legislators and democratic leaders from western countries.
"Arab governments have an opportunity to
create peace, security, and prosperity in the Middle East and around
the globe, but only if they meet the challenge of enshrining democracy,
the rule of law, and respect for human rights into their political
structures and practices," said Maharaj. "It is no exaggeration
to say that the world is at a moment of destiny. The community of
nations must rally behind the democratisation of the Middle East,
because the global consequences of failure in the region are simply
too terrible to contemplate."
Maharaj was invited to participate in the talks
in his capacity as President and CEO of the Concordis Foundation.
His focus is on: freedom of expression and equality of citizens;
the development of strategies for the diplomatic resolution of international
conflicts; and peaceful co-existence between Israelis and Palestinians.
Michael Van Dusen
Office of Akaash Maharaj
telephone (905) 817 1245, mobile (416) 570 0203
(1) The Democratic Governance initiative is
being held under the authority of the United
Leadership Institute, part of the United
Nations University system.
(2) Participants from the
following states and governments are at the talks.