New technology – friend or foe of democracy?

Warsaw Dialogue for Democracy 2018 starts today! On Thursday and Friday in Warsaw this week, social activists and people from the world of science and the public sector from 30 countries will once again meet to exchange opinions and experiences related to the promotion of democracy in contemporary societies. This year's edition of the Warsaw Dialogue for Democracy will focus on the potential and challenges stemming from the growing role of new technology in contemporary politics.

For the seventh time Warsaw is hosting an international conference bringing together human rights defenders and experts from around the world. The main topic of their talks will be the impact of new media on democratisation and respect for human rights. On the one hand, new technologies are an accessible tool for accessing information and an effective channel of direct communication between voters and politicians, while on the other hand they are a tool for disinformation, whose influence on free elections in democratic societies is increasingly visible and harder to challenge. All this has a real impact on how modern societies live and it makes modern democracies take on a new form: Democracy 2.0.

Therefore, the focus of the speakers will be primarily social media users – especially in the context of fake news and free elections. The aim of the conference will also be to look at the growing role of new civil and public responsibility tools. Additionally, because Poland, as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council, attaches particular importance to the potential of new media in conflict prevention and mediation, an important topic of the conference will be an innovative approach to conflict prevention using tools provided by social media.

The agenda of the Warsaw Dialogue for Democracy 2018 includes: an open session with representatives of the Polish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, international organisations and human rights activists; four panel discussions that will complement the question and answer sessions with audience participation. Also, at the conference there will be workshops that will help participants develop practical skills.

One effect of the conference will be to catalogue experiences from different regions of the world. This will allow actions that governments, civil society and international organizations can undertake in the future to be identified. The sets of recommendations, based on conclusions from the discussions, will be forwarded to international fora devoted to supporting democracy and human rights.

The Warsaw Dialogue for Democracy has been organised since 2012. During the two-day conference, representatives of NGOs, public institutions and academia from over 30 countries, exchange views and share know-how on consolidating democracy, strengthening democratic institutions, supporting civil society and respecting human rights.