New York Democracy Forum

New York Democracy Forum

A forum for the world’s most important struggle in the world’s most important city.

The Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen has written that the most important development of the last one hundred years was “the emergence of democracy as the preeminently acceptable form of government.”

Since the devastating attacks of 9/11, commentators have labeled the times in which we live as “The Age of Terrorism.” But a compelling case can be made for a more hopeful label: “The Age of Democracy.”

Thirty-five years ago, there were 40 democracies. By the end of the 20th Century, that number had tripled. Nevertheless, democracy has not triumphed everywhere, and emerging democracies face many obstacles.

Because the successful spread of democracy around the world holds the key to addressing many of the world’s most serious problems, including terrorism and nuclear proliferation, it has been placed at the top of the foreign policy agenda in Washington, D.C. The state of democracy in the world has serious implications for the increasingly global marketplace as well. Democracies do not fight one another, they foster healthier trade relationships, and they create an international climate that facilitates open markets and the efficient transfer of capital and technology.

Democracy is the fundamental struggle of our time, and therefore it is critical that the world’s leading commercial center engage with those who are part of that struggle.

The idea behind the New York Democracy Forum, a joint venture of the Foreign Policy Association and the National Endowment for Democracy, is to bring to New York audiences key figures in the democracy movement who are leading the way in the advance of democratic values and institutions around the world. These individuals, whether they are activists, scholars, or decision makers, are influential democratic figures because of the impact of their work and the power of their ideas.

There are no two organizations better placed to link New York and Washington in this important undertaking. Since its founding in 1918, the New York-based Foreign Policy Association has been at the forefront of efforts to educate the public about the critical issues that shape America’s involvement in world affairs. Through its World Affairs Councils, Great Decisions series, and publications, it serves as the leading public foreign policy forum for national and international leaders.

The National Endowment for Democracy is a bipartisan institution located in Washington, D.C. that supports grassroots democratic initiatives in over 80 countries around the world. The Endowment, which through its grants program has assisted every major democratic movement in the world since its founding two decades ago, has become an international center for the dissemination of democratic ideas through its Journal of Democracy, the Reagan-Fascell Fellows Program, and the World Movement for Democracy, an international democracy network that it founded in 1999.

In addition to garnering support for the worldwide democracy movement from New York’s civic, educational, and financial leaders, the New York Democracy Forum will create opportunities for networking with some of the world’s current and future leaders. The Forum will additionally help to raise the public’s awareness of the two sponsoring organizations and enable them to increase their support for ongoing programs.

Past Events

May 9, 2012

Carl Gershman, “The Arab Revolts: A Fourth Wave or an Ebbing Tide?”


March 1, 2011

Carl Gershman, “Democracy’s New Moment: A Forward Strategy for Advancing Freedom in the World”


June 16, 2010

Robert B. Zoellick, “Prospects for Economic Growth in the Evolving Multipolar World.” 


October 7, 2008

Lodi Gyaltsen Gyari, “For Tibet and China, The Clock Is Ticking”

October 2, 2008

Cheol Woong Kim

May 14, 2008

José Miguel Insulza, “Advancing Democracy in Latin America: The Role of the OAS”


September 24, 2007

Michelle Bachelet

April 18, 2007

Alejandro Toledo, “Democracy or Populism: Responding to the Crisis in Latin America”

March 14, 2007

Christopher Cox

February 12, 2007

Garry Kasparov, “The Prospects for Russian Democracy”


November 27, 2006

Esther Dyson, “A Virtualist Tours the World: The Internet and the Emergence of Democracy”

October 30, 2006

Dr. Jorge Castañeda

May 22, 2006

H. E. Kemal Dervis

March 8, 2006

Richard Holbrooke


December 1, 2005

Anwar Ibrahim

November 3, 2005

Larry Diamond

October 6, 2005

Mark Malloch Brown

May 24, 2005

Francis Fukuyama

April 20, 2004

Azar Nafisi

March 22, 2004

Richard Gephardt

March 9, 2004

New York Democracy Forum Launch