Lebanon to host UN conference on democracy in Arab world

Protesters in Arab countries have been demanding wide reforms

BEIRUT - Lebanon will host this month a UN conference on democracy in the Arab world, with a slew of high-level dignitaries, including UN chief Ban Ki-moon, due to attend, organisers and Lebanese officials said Tuesday.
The two-day conference entitled "Reform and Transitions to Democracy" will be held January 15 and 16. It is organised by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA).
Some 50 high-level Arab and international policymakers, academics and development experts have been invited to the meet but the list of those attending has not been finalised, organisers said.
"The aim of this meeting is to provide decisions-makers in emerging democracies in Arab countries with an opportunity to interact with leaders who encountered similar challenges during their countries' transitions to democracy," according to an outline of the conference.
Officials from Poland, Argentina, Sierra Leone, Uruguay and other countries have been invited to speak.
Some of the themes that will be addressed will be how countries that have been part of the so-called Arab Spring can transition from autocracy to democracy, how to strengthen democratic institutions and how to reintegrate former combatants into society.
The UN chief, who will be visiting Lebanon next week to meet with officials and members of the UN peacekeeping force in southern Lebanon (UNIFIL), will be among the keynote speakers at the conference.