First World Conference on Direct Democracy
Lucerne/Switzerland 22–24 May, 2008
Bringing in the People:
The Global Participation Challenge
Towards the first World Conference on Direct Democracy Lucerne/Switzerland 22–24 May, 2008
At the same time as modern representative democracy has become a global norm – based on a set of principles which include fundamental freedoms, basic political rights, the separation of powers, the rule of law and acceptance of international law – procedural forms of direct-democratic decision making have been extended to most countries across the world at the local, regional or national level.
Initiatives, referendums and recall votes – as a complement to elections – are thus playing an increasingly important role in involving citizens in the political process. However, discussions on the appropriate use of DD instruments, on the interactions and relationships between DD instruments and the forms of representative democracy, and on the ramifications of the process of the design,adoption and implementation of DD instruments are often not as well informed and inclusive as they could be.
In 2004, International IDEA, an intergovernmental organization founded in 1995 with member states from all continents, launched a global project to gather data, assess developments and raise awareness about the appropriateness, design and implementation of direct-democratic processes worldwide. International IDEA has developed an analytical structure for DD procedures, a global direct democracy glossary and a questionnaire on DD procedures worldwide. Using these new tools, a global database on DD procedures is under construction and a Global Handbook on Direct Democracy will be prepared.