Along with the 11th Bali Democracy Forum (BDF), two more conferences, the second Bali Democracy Student Conference (BDSC) and the Bali Civil Society and Media Forum (BCSMF) are going to be held simultaneously. The idea behind the parallel forums is to promote an inclusive and comprehensive dialogue on democracy from multiple perspectives.
Minister of Foreign Affairs Retno Marsudi said that it is hoped BDSC will inspire today’s youth the pillars of the country’s democratic future to not indulge in political apathy. “We need the millennial generation's energy to sustain our democracy,” Ms. Marsudi said.
She went on to say that the millennial among today’s generation of students should be empowered to develop creative economy by making use of their expertise in information technology and digital communication, she went on to say. “The millennial can lend more colors to our democracy with positivity and creativity that drive their innovations,” the minister said.
The young generation, she said, are more capable of communicating their aspirations and criticisms, thus helping the government to more effectively understand and cater to the people’s needs.
She also urged youth groups to appreciate differences and exercise tolerance to create a better world for future generation.
“Democracy needs to be fought for and carefully cultivated, just like peace,” Ms. Marsudi said.
Democracy, she said, comes with tough challenges, especially given the rising populism, narrowly interpreted nationalism, xenophobia, and anti-pluralism, even in democratically mature countries. She said that it is by implementing the principles of democracy and fostering the culture of dialogue that the young generation can steer clear of conflicts.
The Minister's statement found a supporter in Afghan student Parwiz Mosamin. He said that democracy must be built on the basis of mutual understanding and respect.
“A country without democracy will find it difficult to grow, because it will always be torn by conflict,” said the twenty four year old.
This year’s BDSC will be attended by 138 students from 57 countries. The agenda for the conference includes two panel discussions with the themes “Technology, Innovation and the Future of Prosperity” and “Making Democratic Institutions and Inclusive Prosperity”, respectively.
The panelists leading the discussions are university students from countries such as Sudan, Argentina, Afghanistan, Belgium, Singapore, and host country Indonesia. On the second and final day of the conference, the delegates will be invited to a presentation on follow-up projects from last year’s BDSC, which are the Indonesian School of Young Democracy in Pekanbaru, Riau and the Expression Park in Ponorogo, East Java.
Emphasizing on concrete outputs, following the presentation the BDSC delegates are expected to kick-start a discussion for their next projects.
During its first BDSC last year, the Conference was attended by 150 students from various countries including Indonesia. The focus of the conference had been the theme “From Campus for Democracy”, which resulted in the Voice of the Youth document as its output.
Role of community and the media
BCSMF, on the other hand, was organized to analyze the role of civil society and the media as a "check-and-balance" and complementary element to the development of democracy. A pre-conference meeting, the BDF Berlin Chapter, was held earlier this year in Berlin, Germany and another one, BDF Tunisian Chapter, in Tunis, Tunisia, in 2017.
“Why did we do [the chapter meetings]? The goal is to provide the opportunity to exchange ideas on democracy and its challenges, not only in Asia Pacific but in other parts of the world as well, to further enrich democracy itself,” said Ms. Marsudi. (Tes/OL/Ant/S-2)