World leaders, including heads of state, foreign ministers, ambassadors, government representatives and civil society representatives gathered in Ulaanbaatar to participate in the VII Ministerial Conference of the Community of Democracies, an international network of more than 110 nations, whose purpose is to strengthen democratic norms and support burgeoning democracies around the globe.

A delegation from IRI, headed by President Lorne Craner, traveled to Ulaanbaatar to attend the three-day conference.  During the conference, Craner moderated a panel discussion entitled, “Civil Society in Emerging Democracies: Challenges and Opportunities.”  During the discussion, panelists from Asia, Latin America, Africa and the United States addressed the challenges posed to civil society at different stages of democratic development.  The panelists highlighted the strategies they adopted to deal with challenges such as weak rule of law, democratic backsliding and lack of funding.  These lessons learned offered valuable perspectives on opportunities that could serve to bolster civil society’s role in strengthening democracy around the world.

Delegates from IRI, including its president, also met with Mongolian President Ts. Elbegdorj; Tawakkol Karman, a women’s rights activist from Yemen and Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2011; Mongolian Foreign Minister L. Bold and Ulaanbaatar Mayor E. Bat-Uul.

More than 20 years after its peaceful democratic revolution, Mongolia was well-positioned to head the Community of Democracies. The Ministerial Conference, which marked the end on Mongolia’s two-year presidency, was comprised of five separate forums intended to highlight major Community of Democracies themes: Women, youth, civil society, parliament and business.  The conference explored priorities under the Mongolian Presidency, which included promoting democracy education, advancing regional cooperation, strengthening civil society around the globe and establishing a zero tolerance standard on corruption.   

At the closing of the conference, Mongolia handed over the reins to El Salvador, which will lead the Community of Democracies for the next two years.

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