Democracy for the Future | Meeting of Civil Society Leaders on COVID-19 and Challenges to Democratic Values

June 11, 2020

The Covid-19 pandemic poses a grave challenge to democracy and civil society. Authoritarian leaders are taking advantages of the crisis to tighten their political grip by weakening checks and balances, restricting civil liberties, and expanding surveillance — suppressing the civic space. While democracy was already at risk prior to Covid-19, it may be further threatened by a crisis of this magnitude. Rather than doing nothing and expecting a deeper undermining of democracy, we should proceed in a way that protects and revitalizes a free and inclusive society. Civil society has an important role to play in sustaining democratic values, both through its direct actions and by drawing on the experience and knowledge of its leaders and their networks.

As part of its program on Expanding Support for Democratic Governance JCIE brought together a group of civil society leaders for an online discussion on the implications of the pandemic for civil society. The online dialogue featured civil society leaders from Taiwan and Indonesia as speakers, who both gave insights into their governments’ responses to the pandemic and the implications for civil society and discussed the role of civil society will have in safeguarding the future of democracy in Asia in the post-pandemic world.


Ketty W. Chen, Vice President, Taiwan Foundation for Democracy
Ichal Supriadi, Secretary General, Asian Democracy Network

OPENING  REMARKS | Akio Okawara, President and CEO, Japan Center for International Exchange
SPECIAL REMARKS | Yukio Takasu, Special Advisor on Human Security to the UN Secretary General; former UN Under-Secretary General for Management; Chair, JCIE Study Group on Democracy for the Future
MODERATOR | Maiko Ichihara, Visiting Scholar, Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law, Stanford University. Associate Professor, Graduate School of Law, School of international and Public Policy, Hitotsubashi University
EMCEE | Atsuko Geiger, Fellow, JCIE/USA



Dr. Ketty W. Chen is the Vice President of the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy (TFD). She is responsible for overseeing international affairs and general administration at the TFD. Dr. Chen is a political scientist by training and received her doctoral degree in political science from the University of Oklahoma, specializing in comparative politics, democratization, international relations and political philosophy. Dr. Chen also holds two Master’s degrees in political science and international relations from the University of Oklahoma and dual Bachelor of Arts degrees in political science and psychology from the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Dr. Chen also served as the Chair of the Women’s Rights Working Group for Liberal International and has been referenced in a number of publications and international media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, the Associated Press, Al Jazeera, LA Times, New York Times, Financial Times, Voice of America, BBC-World, Libération and Le Monde. Her book chapters on Taiwan’s social movement in “Taiwan’s Social Movements Under Ma Ying-jeou” and “Cities Unsilenced” were published in 2017.


Ichal Supriadi is currently the Secretary General of the Asia Democracy Network and is based in Bangkok, Thailand. Previous to his current position he worked as the Executive Director of the Asian Network for Free Elections (ANFREL). He has attended over 30 international elections observation mission in various Asian countries since 1998. He first engaged with the Indonesian student movement, and then joined the Independent elections monitoring committee (KIPP) as district coordinator in 1998, later he held the position as executive director on the province level in 2003 before he joined ANFREL in 2016. He actively engages in the democracy movement and is the co-founder of Democracy Watch Indonesia (2001), co-founder of INDEPT Indonesia (2012). He obtained MA at Human Rights from Mahidol University, Thailand.