Lifting the Voices of Internally Displaced People

Refugee and asylum seeker rights rally in Melbourne, Australia. Credit: John Englart (Takver)

Nearly 60 million people around the world are refugees -- either displaced within the borders of their own country or living in countries not their own, according to a new UN study. Just this year, there were 14 million new internally displaced people, which is an all-time high.

World Refugee Day, which will be observed tomorrow, brings attention to this growing global crisis. While discussions about internally displaced persons (IDPs) often focus on immediate needs, such as food, medical aid and shelter, another need should not be overlooked: democratic participation.

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Four New Resources for Supporting Citizen Participation

Each week, NDI’s Citizen Participation team sends materials to staff around the world that offer practical tools and guiding concepts to consider in their programming. In a rapidly changing world, new ideas and strategies are constantly being developed by practitioners, funders and other organizations. By sharing a digest of our “Citizen Participation Weekly Resource,” we hope to highlight the most innovative and effective knowledge-based approaches to making democracy work.

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Solving climate change will require technological and political innovation

The earth faces unprecedented ecological challenges. Human activity has now pushed the earth beyond four of the nine planetary boundaries first identified in 2009 by Johan Rockström, a recognized expert on natural resource management from Stockholm University. Breaking through one or more of these boundaries, Rockström says, may be catastrophic because it triggers abrupt environmental degradation at a continental or even global scale.

Time to throw up our hands in despair, right? Wrong.

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Elections do not make a democracy, but they are still pretty important

In most countries, elections, even imperfect ones, provide channels for citizens to influence the political process in profound ways, beyond the act of voting. While casting a ballot allows citizens to express their dissatisfaction with their elected leaders by removing them from office, often enough, the new representatives do not perform much better than their predecessors. Fortunately, voting is only one way that citizens can use elections to influence decisionmaking on public policy and service delivery.

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New Politics in Bosnia-Herzegovina?

Bosnia-Herzegovina’s journey from the Dayton Peace Accords to sustainable democracy has rested on the notion that ethnic power-sharing and highly decentralized government would, over time, give way to more integrated forms of government and politics. Ethnic interests, though still primary, would cease to be the exclusive basis on which power is won and exercised. Other forms of association – environmental, business, labor, students and pensioners, etc. – transcending ethnicity would take their place in the political system.

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Civil Society Gets Role at April Summit of the Americas in Panama

The seventh Summit of the Americas will take place in Panama City on April 10. Unlike other summits, Panama 2015 will provide a structured opportunity for civil society leaders throughout the region, including independent voices from Cuba, to engage the assembled government leaders. Representatives of civic organizations and individual social actors who wish to attend need to register now on an Organization of American States website.

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