Stronger Collaboration Needed to Strengthen Democracy in Asia

From 14 to 19 March 2024, Asia Centre’s Regional Director, Dr. James Gomez visited Seoul, the capital of South Korea, to speak at three separate panels during which he called for a stronger partnership for democracy in Asia. 

These panels were either organised or supported by the Global Democracy Coalition (GDC) during the week of the 3rd Summit for Democracy 2024. The GDC, convened by International IDEA, and supported by its democracy partners, aims to facilitate dialogue, exchange knowledge, and advocate for democracy, not only during the Summits for Democracy but also champion the democracy agenda at other international and regional gatherings.

On 14 March 2024, during the panel discussion “Narratives and Strategies for Democracy in Asia,” organised by the Asia Regional GDC Forum 2024 and held at the East Asia Institute (watch short video), Dr Gomez highlighted the inability of national governments across Asia to uphold democratic values and practices. Instead, he argued that democracy is held down by long-ruling authoritarian elites and their families. To overcome this situation, Dr Gomez suggested joint actions by local, regional, and international NGOs to strengthen the democratic fabric of the region.

Similarly, on 15 March during the panel discussion “Youth, Technology, and Democracy: A Regional Perspective” (watch short video), at an event organised by the Global GDC Forum 2024 and held at The Josun Westin, Dr Gomez recommended strengthening the state of democracy in Asia by empowering youth. In particular, he suggested equipping youth with media information literacy skills to navigate the fake news on democracy and human rights put out by authoritarian states and their supporters.

On 19 March 2024 at the COEX Convention & Exhibition Centre, at a panel,“Building Synergy and Intergenerational Solidarity: Asian Political Parties and Civil Society for Democracy (watch short video).” organised by Asia Centre and the Council of Asian Liberals and Democrats (CALD), Dr. Gomez mooted the idea of establishing a pan-Asian collaboration among CSOs to discuss the state of democracy in the region and to strategise a response. He stressed the importance of bridging the gap and promoting deeper understanding between CSOs and political parties as they share a common democratic agenda.

Dr. Gomez’s speeches during the week of the Summit for Democracy were well received and amplified later. For instance, 3 days after the Summit on 24 March 2024, the GDC tweeted that Dr. Gomez emphasised that, “ Discussion intergenerational solidarity between Asia political parties and civil society for democracy” as well as that he said, “States would find the Summit for Democracy hollow without CSO involvement”. On 29 March, a week following the Summit, the South China Morning Post published an interview in Dr. Gomez explained how “information integrity” can be used to counter countries that use “disinformation” as an excuse restricting regulations on speech. Additionally, Gomez urged that the content creators be allowed to provide truthful information “without interference, especially from freedom-repressing governments.”

However it was not all speeches and quotes. On the sidelines of the 3rd Summit for Democracy in Seoul, South Korea, Dr. Gomez also had the opportunity to meet and discuss future collaboration with officials from the Korean Democracy Foundation, Asian Democracy Network (ADN Asia) and Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL).


Overall, Asia Centre is committed to advancing and fostering CSO-to-CSO collaboration for a more democratic future in Asia and beyond.

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