“Doing Democracy Differently?”

Discussion Series 2017



Read the recap of last weeks debate on the opportunities of social media in doing democracy differently now!

This was the last debate in the Spring Doing Democracy Differently Series, we would like to thank all our speakers, guests and students who have participated in this series for their contributions! We hope to see you in the fall!










Time to meet our second speaker!
Dr. Nishant Shah is the co-founder and Director-Research at the Centre for Internet and Society , Bangalore, India. He is an International Tandem Partner at the Centre for Digital Cultures, Leuphana University, Germany and a Knowledge Partner with the Hivos Knowledge Programme , The Netherlands. In these varied roles, he has been committed to producing infrastructure, frameworks and collaborations in the global south to understand and analyse the ways in which emergence and growth of digital technologies have shaped the contemporary social, political and cultural milieu

Leuphana Universität Lüneburg: Nishant Shah

Prof. Dr. Nishant Shah Scharnhorststr.1, C5.329 21335 Lüneburgnishant.shah@leuphana.de

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The power of #hashtags in youth activism is on the rise. Find out how to create social change in the best way with these tips!

3 Ways to Use Hashtags For Activism

Social media has become the new black when it comes to platforms that are used by young activists to create positive changes in society. Some successful, spontaneous social movements that received attention around the world started on social media. Check out #YesAllWomen, #YouOKSis, and #BlackLivesMatter – do you notice a pattern?

The efforts of millennials in activism and social justice are spurred by social media outreach. The use of social media does create a debate on the engagement of giving a like to support a cause. Want to join in on this discussion? Register now for our debate on the Opportunities for social media, June 13th!

Social Media Is Undeniably Giving Power To Youth Activists

Young adults are often told that they cannot enact real social or political change. They are too young, too inexperienced, too naïve, or too idealistic for the serious work of activism. But as the millennial generation has shown time and time again, young adults hold wide potential in the realm of activism and social justice work.

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Get ready to meet one of our speakers for the next debate! Caroline Nevejan works at TU Delft and focusses on network society and digital culture

Dr. C.I.M. (Caroline) Nevejan

Dr. Caroline Nevejan is associate professor with the Participatory Systems Initiative at Delft University of Technology. This relatively new group is part of the section Systems Engineering in the department of Multi Actor Systems at the Faculty of Technology, Policy and Management.

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Last week, the debate on youth activism took place at ISS. Thanks for all that participated in the interesting discussion! Read the recap here  










Tomorrow, we will discuss the opportunities for youth activism!

Youth, Activism and the Power of Digital Media

As more and more young people find themselves drawn to the world’s issues, the question of how to go about addressing them becomes increasingly important. Tomorrow, we will discuss the opportunities for youth activism!

Those criticising online media often tell users to step away from the computer and go out to volunteer or donate, ignoring the fact that not everyone has lots of money to donate or time to spare, even if they care about the cause deeply.

Sign up for the debate on youth activism here

This video shows how the youth of Venezuala and Colombia are participating in society in new ways.

Web Serial – Youth activism in Latin America

Today’s edition of Web Serial looks at youth activism in Latin America. In Colombia, youth are seeking new forms of participation in what has been a very rigid and conservative society.

Sign up for the debate on youth activism here

This article provides an overview of the different youth revolts from the recent years, showing that youth all around the world is standing up and fighting for their causes.

Are activist youth our agents of real social change?

By Zukiswa Mqolomba Today’s youth are no longer the “lost generation” apathetic about the societies surrounding them. They are acutely conscious of their marginal structural position. Now, they no longer trust the state’s willingness and ability to find solutions to their problems. In their shared marginalisation, young people have developed a sense of common identity and a critical consciousness that leads them to challenge the established order.

Sign up for the debate on youth activism here


After the Arab Spring, are youth in the Middle East and Northern Africa more involved in politics? Listen to this podcast of the Brookings institute to find out more about the situation in Tunisia and the region at large.


Sign up for our debate on youth activism here.

Tunisian youth and their politics | Brookings Institution

Sarah Yerkes, fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and former nonresident fellow in the Center for Middle East Policy, considers the low youth participation in Tunisian politics and the implications for the country’s democracy. Also in this episode, David Wessel, senior fellow in Economic Studies and director of the Hutchins Center on Fiscal and Monetary Policy, provides his regular economic update.

Sign up for the debate on youth activism here

As preparation for our upcoming debate on youth activism, we look at the politics of youth organisations and initiatives in Belarus and what it means for its democracy. To know more, read:

Youth organisations in Belarus: oppositional vs. official

A BRSM gathering. Source: belsat.eu On 23 February, the administration of the Belarusian State University expelled the youth activist Yury Lukashevich. The former student claims that the reason behind his expulsion lies in his political activism and board membership in an oppositional party.

Sign up for the debate on youth activism here

The involvement of youth in different initiatives can be very succesful! Read some success stories here

Success Stories

These youth-led initiatives reveal that young people can be very influential with their peers, younger peers, parents, the press, the private sector, politicians and other policymakers. Some of these examples are ongoing campaigns; others occurred in the past. Please share your story with us so we can share with others by contacting us online.

Sign up for the debate on youth activism here!


Recap 18 April

Recap Doing Democracy Differently: Participatory Budgeting

Read the recap of the last debat here!

















How do youth in Africa look at political participation, and how do they feel about the systems that are in place? Read more about it in this recent research:

Civic Participation Across Africa – BusinessGhana News | Politics

GeoPoll found that despite an active and engaged youth, youth question the accountability of their governments and the role in which they can take as political participants. They do, however, identify and value governance-whether it manifests in service delivery, free speech, or voting.

Chicago extends ‘doing democracy’ to the schools and its youth, and this also entails designing and carrying out the process of participatory budgeting. Read on for more details.

Don’t forget to register here for the upcoming debate!

Democracy in the Classroom: A Hands-On Learning Experience Through Voting on School Budget Priorities

Democracy doesn’t just have to be something students learn in textbooks. It can also be taught through participatory budgeting, a system of direct democracy and power. In an era of cutbacks and attacks on democracy, the funds for teaching participatory budgeting need to be made a priority.

While participatory budgeting usually takes place on a local or regional level, Portugal announced a nation-wide plan last year. Read about the reasoning behind it here:

Don’t forget to register here for the upcoming debate!

Portugal announces the world’s first nationwide participatory budget

Portugal has announced the world’s first participatory budget on a national scale. The project will let people submit ideas for what the government should spend its money on, and then vote on which ideas are adopted.

With the spread of participatory budgeting, it also reaches rural parts of Africa. Watch this clip to learn more about participatory budgeting in the country side of Nigeria:

Don’t forget to register here for the upcoming debate!

Participatory budgeting takes place all around the world, so also in Africa. The article is an interview with Mamadou Bachir Kanouté who co-ordinates the activities of the Africa bureau of the International Observatory of Participatory Democracy.

Participatory Budgeting in Senegal: Interview with Mamadou Bachir Kanouté

Extract from an interview with Mamadou Bachir Kanouté, a town planner and Executive Director of non-governmental organisation Enda ECOPOP, based in Dakar. He is the author of Le Budget Participatif en Afrique – Manuel de formation pour les pays francophones (2007) and co-ordinates the activities of the Africa bureau of the International Observatory of Participatory Democracy.

Register here for the upcoming debate



Dutch example of participatory budgeting: the article explains how the city of Utrecht uses participatory budgeting in order to  respond quickly and flexibly to signals and initiatives from the neighborhood regarding the quality of life in a district, street or neighborhood. Furthermore, it seeks to encourage citizen and entrepreneur involvement in improving the livability of their own neighborhood.

Leefbaarheidsbudget Participatory Budgeting (Utrecht, Netherlands)

‘Leefbaarheidsbudget’ is a budget provided by the municipality of Utrecht for each of its ten districts. Similar processes exist in many other Dutch cities, but much of the pioneering work has been done in Utrecht, which remains the most important example. Translated literally, it means ‘livability- budget’.

Register here for the upcoming debate


Experiences from Chicago show that there is no one-size-fits-all formula for participatory budgeting. The process must be adapted to the unique needs and culture of each district if it is to resonate with locals. Read more on these local experiences here

Is Participatory Budgeting Real Democracy?

Drawing from a practice pioneered 25 years ago in Porto Alegre, Brazil, participatory budgeting cracks open the closed-door process of fiscal decision-making in cities, letting citizens vote on exactly how government money is spent in their community.

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Brazil was one of the first countries to implement participatory budgeting on a large scale. Read this article for a look at the developments in Brazil and the future of participatory budgeting.

Register here for the upcoming debate

Budgets for the People

At a time of record low trust in public institutions, thousands of new channels for citizen involvement in government are opening across the world. They go further than electoral participation; they increase citizens’ ability to monitor, regulate, and, in some cases, directly affect political decision-making.

Tiago Peixoto of the European University Institute has developed an interactive map in which participatory budget initiatives are shown on a global scale. The map makes clear that participatory budgeting is taking place all over the world.

PB Map & Process List

The Brazilian city of Porto Alegre started the first full PB process in 1989, for the municipal budget. In Porto Alegre, as many as 50,000 people have participated each year, to decide as much as 20% of the city budget. Since 1989, PB has spread to over 1,500 cities in Latin America, North America, Asia, Africa, and Europe.

Do not forget to sign up for the debate here.


The first two countries that come to mind when one says ‘participatory budgeting’ are the United States of America and Brazil. In light of the coming debate on 18th April, take a look at the process and its working in New York City.

Do not forget to sign up for the debate here.


From Budget Cuts to a People’s Budget: Participatory Budgeting in NYC

This video documents the first year of New York City’s Participatory Budget. Produced by the International Studies Film Collective at Marymount Manhattan College. Watch for a longer documentary in the coming months.

Recap SID-ISS-NIMD Debate ‘Doing Democracy Without Political Parties?’


Want to know more about participatory budgeting? Take a look at this clip:

Don’t forget to sign up for our upcoming debate!

Asia’s newest democracy is voting for a new president. 8 candidates are in the running to become the new leader in the poorest nation of the region. The process of voting in new democracies is often accomponied with disruptions in society.

To know more about the debate or register, click here.

East Timor, Asia’s Youngest Democracy, Votes for President

East Timor is voting for a new president in an election that will test Asia’s newest and poorest nation. Francisco “Lu Olo” Guterres, a former guerrilla leader from the leftist Fretilin party, is up against seven other candidates Monday. He and the Democratic Party’s Antonio de Conceicao, the minister of education and social affairs, are the front-runners.

On April 16, Turks will vote in a referendum over a package of constitutional amendments meant to concentrate more power in the office of the presidency, the position currently held by Erdogan. This raises question on the state of democracy in Turkey. Read more here:

Is Turkey Still a Democracy?

To know more about the debate or register, click here.


Some food for thought for the coming debate on ‘Doing Democracy Without Political Parties?’ on 21st March. Read the essay here:



To know more about the debate or register, click here.

On the 21st of March, SID-NL organizes the debate ‘Doing Democracy Without Political Parties?’ As a prepartion to this debate, useful information on democracy and political parties will be provided. This second post is on how Africa got its first female president.

‘Vote for Woman’: How Africa Got Its First Female President

To know more about the debate or register, click here.

In light of the coming debate on ‘Can we have democracy without political parties?’ organized by SID-NL, NIMD and the ISS on 21 March, here is a point of view that underscores the role and importance of political parties in Kazakhstan.
To know more about the debate or register, click here.

Constitutional reforms should recognise important role of political parties

“A Financial World without the Traditional Financial Institutions?”

Discussion Series 2016


Recap Member Event November 2016



An area that has seen significant expansion with no signs of slowing down, fintech is transforming banking as we know it – bringing it firmly into the digital arena where we increasingly spend more of our time. Here, representatives from international law firm Bird & Bird help break down the key trends in fintech for 2016.

Biggest developments in fintech in 2016

What happens when the way we buy, sell and pay for things changes, perhaps even removing the need for banks or currency exchange bureaus? That’s the radical promise of a world powered by cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum. We’re not there yet, but in this sparky talk, digital currency researcher Neha Narula describes the collective fiction of money — and paints a picture of a very different looking future.

How can we apply  technologies to providing accessible and affordable credit to those in immediate need, or to ensuring urgent benefit payments are as swiftly available as possible?
Tech must offer hope to all, not a privileged few

Millions of people around the world have – for various reasons – no access to formal financial services. FinTech may be the answer to this problem of financial exclusion. Read here how:

Technology Is an Answer to the Problem of Financial Exclusion

Our next debate on November 22nd will focus on FinTech. What is FinTech exactly? And what is its impact? Read this article for some insights on the development and meaning of FinTech:
What you should know about fintech and its positive powers


Forum organized by the Barinu Institute for Economic Development, an organization in special consultancy status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). It covers the evolution of the monetary system, financial engineering & fintech, micro-finance, the role of entrepreneurs in promoting social development efforts, and how countries can leverage contemporary financing avenues to fund infrastructure and social development projects.

The Convergence of Financial Inclusion, Infrastructure Development and Social Development

 Community Currencies are distinct from the wider field of financial innovations because they are set up with the involvement and backing of the people and organizations that will ultimately use them.

Community Currency

Could cash-free lifestyles work across a whole economy? What if – instead of owning things – people shared them? Listen to this debate from the BBC on whether sharing is just traditional capitalism wrapped up in a few warm words.

Alternative Economies, Business Daily – BBC World Service


Currency — the bills and coins you carry in your wallet and in your bank account — is founded on marketing, on the belief that banks and governments are trustworthy. Now, Paul Kemp-Robertson walks us through a new generation of currency, supported by that same marketing … but on behalf of a private brand. From Nike Sweat Points to bottles of Tide (which are finding an unexpected use in illegal markets), meet the non-bank future of currencies.


What sorts of money will encourage admirable human behavior? What sorts of money systems will encourage trust, reenergize local commerce, favor peer-to-peer value exchange, and transcend the growth requirement? In short, how can money be less an extractor of value and more a utility for its exchange?


Three Experimental Systems for Making Money About Trust, Not Wealth

Today, conditions are such that alternative currencies could be poised to proliferate, says Chris Tittle, director of organizational resilience at the Sustainable Economies Law Center, an Oakland-based nonprofit. He’s noting sprouting signs of a “new generation of currencies,” he says, which leverage technology and online networking.


Why Local Currencies Could Be On The Rise In The U.S. — And Why It Matters

The G20 Financial Inclusion Indicators were designed to assess the state of financial inclusion and digital financial services, and aim to support countries in achieving their financial inclusion goals. They measure access to, use of, and quality of financial services.

G20 Financial Inclusion Indicators | Home | The World Bank

Oxfam Novib  talks about transparency and public accountability of the financial sector as a challenge for development.  Together with  SOMO, they work on strengthening the power of Civil Society Organizations to promote fiscal and financial justice, monitor government spending and hold governments, the private sector and international institutions to account. Read more about their projects on their webpage.


Solidarity economy and alternative currencies sprung up in Greece in response to the financial crisis of the past years. Is this the future of the financial sector?
Mixed fortunes as solidarity economy takes root in Greece

Lending  money where it has the most impact? That approach provided the Rotterdam crowdfunding platform Lendahand first prize at DFT Financial Product of the Year.

Crowdfunding with interest | Lendahand

More than nine million investments and donations were made through crowdfunding in 2013 , but how does it work? Watch this video from the BBC to learn more about it.

The ability to pitch a business plan online and receive funding, in return for either equity or rewards, is an enticing idea for entrepreneurs that need investment. But entrepreneurs must understand that crowdfunding is not easy money. There are significant costs and responsibilities involved and success is far from guaranteed.
Crowdfunding: the boom and buzz explained

“Understanding the Other”

 Discussion Series 2015-2016

Complex Wars: How does the Peace Movement Respond?

Hands Up for Peace

The peace movement has a long history in dealing with interstate wars. However, traditional conflicts have been replaced by complex wars within states involving a range of stakeholders. This new warfare trend is increasingly victimizing civilians in conflict areas. Do drone strikes, air bombings or boots on the ground really bring alleviation to civilians? This debate will explore the new role of the peace movement . How does it respond to the use of military force used in interventions? Are peace movement initiatives affecting military interventions? And what does the peace movement see as viable solutions to establish long-lasting peace?

afbeelding recap

West Africa’s Lake Chad region: the World’s widest gap between human suffering (caused by Boko Haram’s indiscriminate violence, wide spread poverty and increasing desertification) and humanitarian relief, what is going on?
Lake Chad Basin is world’s most neglected humanitarian crisis – U.N. aid chief

PAX Policy Brief: why the Netherlands should focus on human relief instead of air bombings (text is in Dutch).
Waarom ISIS bombarderen onverstandig is en bescherming van burgers de inzet zou moeten zijn

This Aljazeera documentary provides an insight in the changing role of humanitarian aid organizations: how should they respond to the growing complexity of conflicts? How to deal with the increasingly malicious circumstances? How to negotiate with antagonistic non-state actors and belligerent governments without losing face? Three speakers share their thoughts on the latest movements of the Red Cross and Red Crescent.

20 leading international aid organizations released the report “Failing Syria” in January of this year. In it, they review the effects of the UN Secvurity Council’s decisions. Watch this clip to learn more about the reportand the issues international organizations are dealing with:

In relation to our upcoming debate on June 14, read about the dilemma faced by NGOs in conflict areas:
Does Providing Aid in War Zones Do More Harm Than Good? – FPIF

Stereotypen en Media: de Kracht van Zwart-wit Denken

suggestion 5



Memberspecial: “Interact, Inspire, Innovate”

picture poster

Recap Def SM

Syria: Alternative Roads to Peace?

marijn 1.0

Whilst the formal Syrian peace process has barely started, it is clear this will be a long and challenging road. Many Syrian citizens have fled their homes and are often trying to survive, meanwhile hoping that peace will come soon. If the formal peace talks are not really moving forward/making progress, what about alternative ways of realizing peace in Syria and neighboring countries? What are these initiatives that Syrian citizens take/What are the initiatives Syrian citizens take, at home as well as abroad? And how can we possibly/positively support these activities? Two Syrian women will share their perspectives on peace and peace processes as a kick-off for the conversation.        

Syria recap

Faces of the Syrian War

Interview – Rajin Alqallih

Rajin Alqallih is joining the upcoming debate “Syria: Alternative Roads to Peace”. Alqallih is a Syrian masters student at the International Institute for Social Studies, The Hague. She is majoring in social justice, conflict, gender and human rights. Alqallih worked for UNHCR in Syria and Sudan for several years mainly in the field of Refugee Resettlement. This interview will give you a preview of the debate.
1) Why do you think the Syrian Revolution ran so out of control?
Because of external intervention and external non-intervention. On one hand, some external parties -including the governments of some countries- intervened by weapon supply and more. On the other hand, none of the international justice mechanisms was used at an early stage of the conflict to prevent more human rights violations.
2) Do you think the actions of the international community fostered the peace process in any way?
So far not that efficiently because when some efforts are made towards peace, there are other actions taken to feed into the conflict.
3) In your opinion, what are the options for an (alternative) road to peace?
I think dialogue with genuine intentions towards peace is important between every party whether inside or outside Syria that is taking direct or indirect role in the conflict. Dialogue based initiatives and activities among Syrian people with different views about the conflict is also crucial to rebuild trust and peace among people. This kind of initiatives exist already inside Syria but not on a large scale. These initiatives should expand and be supported and spoken about.
“We asked a man ‘Will you please give us your opinion?’
He asked, ‘Why?’
We said, ‘Because you are a Syrian citizen.’
He said, ‘Finally someone considers me a Syrian with a legitimate voice.”
– Report from a regional collection leader
(Source: http://www.free-syria-foundation.org/freedom-charter.html)
4) In reference to this quote, who should take the lead in creating long-lasting substantial peace in Syria? What could be the role of young Syrians in this process, in your view?
All Syrians are tragically affected by this war. The majority wants this war to end but their voices are not heard. Each and every Syrian can and should be part of creating long-lasting substantial peace in Syria by promoting it in our daily life. Young Syrians play an important role in this because they are the ones who would build the future of Syria. We need to find ways to live again in harmony together despite the harm caused by some of us. This is not an easy process but it cannot also easily start if there are still areas under siege and under bombing. The current ceasefire agreement should be effective and a political change should take place as a start of a substantial peace process.

Wondering what happened in the past few years in Syria? See our timeline for an overview of major events:

Understanding the Other: Religion as Dialogue? 

Flickr - lostintheredwoods

Religion is nowadays often portrayed as the cause of tension and conflict. However, religion can also be seen as an adequate way to deal with polarization and disagreements. As part of the monthly debate series on ‘Understanding the Other’, this session will explore the role of religion as dialogue. What type of experiences are we referring to? Under which conditions can religion serve as a tool for dialogue? Three introductory speakers will highlight their experiences with religion as dialogue from various backgrounds and contexts. The objective is to trigger an interactive discussion, opening up avenues for dialogue and understanding.


Colombia: peace at last? 

flags military

After more than fifty years of civil war, the Colombian peace talks in Havana are approaching their very last phase. The Colombian government and the rebel movement FARC are likely to sign a peace agreement by the end of March. Why did it take so long before an agreement could be reached? What are the dilemmas that had to be tackled? How is justice done to the victims of the conflict? What lessons can be learned from these peace negotiations, and from ending one of the longest and most complex conflicts in the Latin American region? And what are actually the prospects for a durable peace?