Report by Coral Condeco

UNA Edinburgh alights the topic of Global Democracy in City
Chambers conference.

By Coral Condeco

The United Nations Association of Edinburgh celebrated World Democracy Day by hosting a conference in the City Chambers on the 15th of September.

Lishia Erza-Evans, convener of the working group for Democracy coordinated the event with a smile on her face making it look easy.

`Professor Jan Scholte gave a riveting and diverse talk titled ‘Reinventing Global Democracy,’ and the audience in attendance gave interesting and often posing questions.

The United Nations Association Of Edinburgh’s aim is to build a safer, fairer and sustainable world. They have six different subject areas that they arrange events for. These are climate, Environment and Bioscience, International Development, Iran Middle East, Nuclear NPT & NATO and of course today’s topic, Democracy, Government and Humanities.

The Deputy Lord Provost, Rob Munn was in attendance at the conference and gave a short speech on Edinburgh and the United Nations Association work. He was filling in for the Lord Provost George Grubb who unfortunately could not be in attendance on the evening but gave his sincere apologies and best wishes for the event.

Gari Donn, Convener of United Nations Association of Edinburgh said “The Lord Provost was extremely sorry he could not be here tonight. He is very interested in the work we do and would have liked today’s conference.”

The Deputy Lord Provost began by opening with ‘Edinburgh is a city of great diversity,’ a statement of which can be confirmed simply by looking around the room.

The conference is filled with people from different backgrounds, cultures, Universities and Countries; something which shows  the impact of the UNA Edinburgh incredible work.

He continued, “Edinburgh is the UK’s only ideopolis outside of London.  It’s a city of knowledge and creativity.” He continued, “On behalf of the Lord Provost, I would like to welcome you all to the celebration of Global Democracy Day here in Edinburgh’s city chambers.”

This is the beginning of an inspiring, interesting and dynamic evening discussing the effects of Global Democracy and how it can be achieved.

Professor Scholte took to the stage with the wonderful statement “Congratulations Edinburgh.”

He then went on to explain how the UNA Edinburgh had managed to change the International Day for Democracy to “Edinburgh’s day for Global Democracy.” Something that the organisers and volunteers do not take lightly.

Lishia said later, “We aim to get people talking about things, we have started blogs and we want people from all over the world to post articles and get talking.”

Scholte then went on to talk about the struggle for Global Democracy and the framework for building it in the future. The room listened intently as he discussed how little Global Affairs are mentioned in Politics and how we can get people connected. He said “The young generation are interested in Global Democracy – That’s exciting.”

Scholte’s main point was that there could be other ways to try to implement Global Democracy, not just the traditional. He went on to say that he thought it was time to re-distribute Global Democracy from the countries who do it well to those that don’t. A Point made by visiting Dabir Tehrani who is on the UNA Committee for Edinburgh and Scotland. He told of a recent internet index that allows viewers to see where countries rank in their use of democracy. Norway came out on top, closely followed by Iceland, with the UK coming in 19th in the index.

Scholte then went on to describe Democracy as an Indispensable quality of society. It’s not enough to be locally democratic.” A point that Edinburgh Napier’s Masters student Kat McManus picked up on in her question, She asked “What can countries do to help Global Democracy?”

Scholte answered that unfortunately they often aren’t ready to use their local democracy skills on a global scale but that “Nothings impossible.”

Beginda Pakpahan an International Relations students from Edinburgh University also asked a question, “Do you think that the UN is still needed – where will we be in the future?”

Scholte admitted “The UN is not in the same position as it was in 1910, however there is still a need for it. We are looking to the future.”

Gari Donn ended the conference perfectly saying “It’s an exciting talk. Many people here today may have thought democracy and human rights talks would not be exciting – but it was.”

She made special mention to previous volunteers and in particular Napier student Paula O’Connell who was receiving a certificate of gratitude for her work with the UNA Edinburgh. Although she could not be in attendance, organizer Lishia collected the certificate on her behalf.

The UNA Edinburgh have many other events coming up in the future, Lishia said “At the end of November we are hoping to take this into the Universities to help with the dissertation topics. Many students don’t feel their topics are diverse enough so we are aiming to help.”

The crowd were left to circulate and you could hear the buzz of excitement and exchange of stories between the attendees.

Amongst these was Teaena Lynn McCreary who is organizing the International Red Carpet Ball to raise money for the orphan justice centre. She is the International student rep for Queen Margaret University and hopes that her event can mirror the success of this and previous events. “Tonight went great.”

The success of this event can be seen in the conversations of the attendees as they chat amongst themselves, enjoying the refreshments. They are talking about Global Democracy, the effects and how they can get involved.

Lishia summed up saying, “Tonight was great. I was a bit worried people wouldn’t turn up but they did and it went very well. We just want to get people involved and let people know the many works of UNA Edinburgh.”

I would say that’s a job well done.