Tag Archives: human rights

Democracy reloaded – radical reform of our broken governments

Bolivian students in one a Democracy in Practice project administer a lottery to select their student government representatives

Bolivian students in a Democracy in Practice project administer a lottery to select their student government representatives

I’ve spent enough time beefing about our failed government systems – now it’s time to go on the offensive with some positive proposals.

Below is my reworked list of the 10 things I’d do to fix our dysfunctional representative democracies.

So it’s not perfect? What’s yours then?

“10 Steps to heal our broken democracies”

1. Recognising the problem

Representative democracy is broken on its most basic measure – it fails to represent citizens’ wishes. We need radically better alternatives.

2. Setting the bar high

Democracy campaigners should champion the ideals embedded in the original Greek term demokratia. That means the power to govern lies with all citizens.

3. Talking about better democracy

We need media who are fiercely loyal to citizens’ interests and no one else’s. Journalists must understand the systemic failures underlying day-to-day political stories.

4. Democracy as a global issue

Real democracy cannot exist only at nation-state levels – issues like climate change and financial crises extend to the whole planet.

5. Democracy innovations

Even though the perfect democracy doesn’t yet exist and maybe never will we need multiple experiments to explore how best citizens can govern themselves.

6. Making democratic excellence everyday

Excellent governance involves learnable skills. We need an all-of-life learning programme, at home, in schools, in workplaces, in our communities and at all levels up to global.

7. Sharing best practices

We need journalism and social media to share stories about democracy experiments that work and how to do them elsewhere.

8. Taking a look at ourselves

Most people have entrenched ideas about democracy. We need to examine our own prejudices to see just how truly “democratic” we are so that we can all become better democrats.

9. Democracy as a universal right

Democracy champions should respect all people’s different religions, spiritual practices or ethical and moral codes. They should avoid dogmatism and help others renounce fanaticism.

10. Establishing democracy measures

Some representative democracies are better than others but none is good. We need measures to compare different versions so as to identify priority areas for reform.

@PatrickChalmers 23 September 2015                                                                          CC licence image

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under democracy, journalism

The Price of Sex


I’m set to interview Mimi Chakarova today, the maker of this film about the sex trafficking of East European women.

It’s a tough tale about how poverty makes young women in former Soviet bloc countries vulnerable to the promises of well-paid work as waitresses abroad, only for them to be trapped into prostitution.

I watched it last night, ending with a feeling of hopelessness. It’s hard to see how to make a difference in the face of so much misery, wrapped up in such shame and taboo. One quote that struck me particularly came from a male human rights campaigner in Dubai, one of the more blatant destinations for those inadvertently trapped into sexual slavery.

“This is about capitalism – you invented it, you brought it into the world we are just being the latest students of the system,” he said of his country’s lax approach to the sex trade.

The film’s great strength is that it goes beyond the personal stories of those women who are brave enough to speak up, striking as they are. It also points a lens at the systemic, economic, cross-border factors that keep a constant supply of new women arriving on the streets of Athens, Moscow, Dubai and countless other cities where money is easier than in the victims’ native lands.

We shouldn’t turn our heads away.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under democracy, journalism, video activism