Solutions for a Changing World


We are at a remarkable crossroads in history, where recent events are challenging the arc of progress and prosperity and upending fundamental beliefs about globalization, international cooperation and the enduring nature of democracy. Is the Western spirit of integration and openness being replaced by walls, both metaphorically and literally? What are the threats and opportunities within this changing social, political and economic environment? Can democratic systems be reformed, or is a complete overhaul the only option?

The New York Times Athens Democracy Forum has never been more urgent, relevant or important. This September 13-17, we will assemble leading policy makers, business leaders, scholars and other experts to define, assess and tackle the critical questions about the world at this moment.


Kofi Annan
Kofi Annan Foundation
Former Secretary General of the United Nations and Chairman
Kofi A. Annan was born in Kumasi, Ghana, in 1938. He was the seventh secretary general of the United Nations and is the founder and chair of the Kofi Annan Foundation. In 2001, he and the United Nations were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Mr. Annan was praised for being “pre-eminent in bringing new life to the organization.” He joined the U.N. system in 1962 as an administrative and budget officer with the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) in Geneva. He later served with the U.N. Economic Commission for Africa (U.N.E.C.A.) in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; the U.N. Emergency Force (U.N.E.F. II) in Ismailia, Egypt; the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (U.N.H.C.R.) in Geneva, and in various senior posts in New York dealing with human resources, budget, finance, and staff security. He also served as under secretary general for peacekeeping. In this role, Mr. Annan facilitated the repatriation of more than 900 international staff and other non-Iraqi nationals from Iraq in 1990. In addition, he served as special representative of the secretary general to the former Yugoslavia, and special envoy to NATO from 1995 to 1996. Mr. Annan was U.N. secretary general from January 1997 to December 2006. One of his main priorities during this period was a comprehensive program of reform that sought to revitalize the United Nations and make the international system more effective. He consistently advocated human rights, the rule of law, the Millennium Development Goals, and Africa, and sought to bring the organization closer to the global public by forging ties with civil society, the private sector and other partners. At Mr. Annan’s initiative, U.N. peacekeeping was strengthened in ways that enabled the United Nations to cope with a rapid rise in the number of operations and personnel. It was also at Mr. Annan’s urging that, in 2005, member states established two new intergovernmental bodies: the Peacebuilding Commission and the Human Rights Council. Mr. Annan likewise played a central role in the creation of the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, the adoption of the U.N.’s first-ever counterterrorism strategy, and the acceptance by member states of the “responsibility to protect” people from genocide, war crimes, ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity. His Global Compact initiative, launched in 1999, has become the world’s largest effort to promote corporate social responsibility. Mr. Annan undertook wide-ranging diplomatic initiatives. In 1998, he helped to ease the transition to civilian rule in Nigeria. In the same year, he visited Iraq to resolve an impasse between Iraq and the Security Council over compliance with resolutions on weapons inspections and other matters; an effort that helped avoid an outbreak of hostilities considered imminent at that time. In 1999, he was deeply involved in the diplomatic process that led to East Timor’s independence from Indonesia. He was responsible for certifying Israel’s withdrawal from Lebanon in 2000, and in 2006 his efforts contributed to securing a cessation of hostilities between Israel and Hezbollah. Also in 2006, he mediated a settlement of the dispute between Cameroon and Nigeria over the Bakassi peninsula. Mr Annan’s efforts to strengthen the U.N.’s management, coherence and accountability involved major investments in training and technology, the introduction of a new whistle-blower policy and financial disclosure requirements, and steps to improve coordination at country level. With the Kofi Annan Foundation, Mr. Annan mobilizes political will to overcome threats to peace, development and human rights. He believes that the expertise and evidence needed to solve pressing problems such as poverty, violent conflict, and poor governance in most cases already exists. Progress is held back too often due to a lack of leadership and of the political will to use it to identify and deliver solutions. He established the Kofi Annan Foundation in 2007 to mobilize leaders across all sectors to provide leadership where it is needed. The foundation works on the premise that there can be no long-term peace without development, and no sustainable development without peace. And that no society can long remain prosperous without the rule of law and respect for human rights. The foundation works to identify new threats to peace and security and supports Mr. Annan’s preventive diplomacy and mediation activities. He chaired the Global Commission on Elections, Democracy and Security from March 2011 to September 2012. In January 2013, he launched the West Africa Commission on Drugs, as a response to the surge in drug trafficking and consumption in West Africa and the negative impact on security, governance and public health. The foundation also works with select partner organizations to amplify Mr. Annan’s voice and catalyze effective action on the promotion of food and nutrition security, sustainable development, and support for good governance, the rule of law and respect for human rights. In early 2008, he led the African Union’s Panel of Eminent African Personalities, which mediated a peaceful resolution to post election violence in Kenya. Today, Mr. Annan devotes considerable time to supporting democracy and elections with integrity. From February to August 2012, he was the U.N.–Arab League joint special envoy for Syria, mandated to seek a resolution to the conflict there. Mr. Annan is the founding chairman of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), which works to improve food security and prosperity in Africa by promoting rapid, sustainable agricultural growth based on smallholder farmers. AGRA’s programs invest in soil regeneration and health, improved seeds, access to markets, and building capacity and investment throughout the agricultural value chain. He chairs the African Progress Panel, which advocates at the highest level for equitable and sustainable development in Africa. The panel includes distinguished individuals from the public and private sectors and publishes an annual Africa progress report. He is also an active member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights, and in 2013 was appointed its chair. Mr. Annan is currently chancellor of the University of Ghana, and has held a number of positions at universities around the world. He is also board member, patron or honorary member of numerous organizations, including the United Nations Foundation. Mr. Annan’s widely acclaimed memoir, “Interventions: A Life in War and Peace,” was published in 2012. He is married to Nane and between them they have three children.

Hyeonseo Lee
Author and Activist
Hyeonseo Lee is a North Korean defector and human rights activist currently living in South Korea. Her memoir, “The Girl With Seven Names,: A North Korean Defector's Story,” was published in 2015 and has so far been translated into 19 languages. Over nine million people have viewed Ms. Lee’s TED talk about her life in North Korea, her escape to China as a teenager, and her struggle to rescue her mother and brother, guiding them on a life-and-death journey to freedom. Ms. Lee has testified about North Korean human rights abuses in front of a special panel of the United Nations Security Council. She spends much of her time traveling across the globe to raise awareness about North Korean human rights and refugee issues. She has contributed to articles published in The New York Times, and The Wall Street Journal, and the London School of Economics Big Ideas blog, among others, and has been interviewed by major media organizations around the world. Ms. Lee is currently establishing an N.G.O. that aims to help North Korean victims of human trafficking, including women who have been forced into sexual slavery and marriage against their will.

Prof. He Jiahong
The School of Law, Renmin University of China
Director of the Center for Anti-Corruption and Rule of Law
He Jiahong was born in Beijing in 1953 and is a prominent scholar, renowned jurist and leading author. Over the last two and a half decades, he has occupied a number of positions at the School of Law at the Renmin University of China, one of Beijing’s most prestigious universities. These include professor of law, director of the Center for Anti-Corruption and Rule of Law, director of the Center for Common Law, and director of the Institute of Evidence. Prof. He has also served in a range of advisory capacities at the state agencies of legal supervision of the People’s Republic of China, including specially invited adviser of the Supreme People’s Court, and expert adviser of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate. In addition, he was seconded to the Department of Dereliction of Duty and Infringement of Human Rights of the Supreme People’s Procuratorate in 2006, where he served as deputy director general. He has published dozens of law books and five crime novels in Chinese. His law book, “Back from the Dead: Wrongful Convictions and Criminal Justice in China,” has also been published in English, French, and German. His crime novels have been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, and English. Prof. He received his doctor of laws degree (S.J.D.) from Northwestern University near Chicago in the United States in 1993.

Costa- Gavras
Film Director and Producer
Costa-Gavras was born in Arcadia, Greece in 1933. At 22, he left to study in Paris and enrolled at Paris-Sorbonne University before being admitted to IDHEC, France’s prestigious film school. After graduating he worked as an assistant director alongside eminent French directors René Clair, René Clément, Henri Verneuil, Jacques Demy, Marcel Ophüls, Jean Giono and Jean Becker. His first release in 1965, “The Sleeping Car Murders,” brought together a multitude of famous French actors, including Yves Montand, Simone Signoret, and Jacques Perrin, and was praised by critics for its direction. This was followed by the release of “Shock Troops,” in 1967, a drama about the French Resistance during the Nazi occupation. Through the medium of film, he has tackled a range of social and political issues. In 1969, “Z” was hailed as the first major political film. Based on the novel by Vassilis Vassilikos, the film is an account of the assassination of Greek politician Grigoris Lambrakis in Thessaloniki in 1963. Jean-Louis Trintignant plays the role of the judge, Christos Sartzetaki who, after the fall of the military dictatorship, become president of the Greek Republic. The film received numerous awards, including two Oscars and two awards at the Cannes Film Festival. Released in 1970, “The Confession” explores the Stalin-inspired purge within the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia. His 1972 film “State of Siege” is set in Uruguay and looks at the overt intervention of the United States in the political affairs of Latin American countries. In 1975, “Special Section” addresses the illegal conviction of the Resistance Movement by the Vichy regime during the Nazi occupation of France. Released in 1982, “Missing” explores the aftermath of Gen. Augusto Pinochet’s military coup and the role of the United States government in bringing down socialist president Salvador Allende. The film won an Oscar for best screenplay, as well as the Golden Palm Award and Best Actor Award for Jack Lemmon. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the topic of his 1983 film “Hanna K.” starring Jill Clayburgh. “Betrayed,” released in 1988 starring Debra Winger, deals with the activities of the Ku Klux Klan, while his 1989 film “Music Box” explores Nazi war crimes. In 1993, the film “The Little Apocalypse” with Jiří Menzel, is about the integration of former communist supporters with the ruling elite. In 1997, “Mad City” with Dustin Hoffman and John Travolta explores the problems of television journalism. His 2002 film “Amen” investigates the Vatican’s silence on the Holocaust. In “The Ax” in 2005, José Garcia stars as an unemployed senior executive who kills his job rivals in desperation. His 2009 release “Eden is West” is a modern odyssey about an illegal immigrant trying to get to Europe and his journey to Paris, the city where he hopes to find salvation. In 2012, he directed “Capital” exploring the instability and corruption of the financial system. He has held a number of positions in various associations in France. He was president of La Société des réalisateurs de films from 1971 to 1973, and president of the inaugural international festival, CinéMémoire in 1991. He was also president of the 40th Deauville American Film Festival. In addition, he served as president of La Cinémathèque Française between 1982 and 1987, and continues in this post following his re-election in 2007. He lives in France with his wife and three children.

Mark Thompson
The New York Times Company
President and Chief Executive Officer
Mark Thompson became president and chief executive officer of The New York Times Company in November 2012. Since that time, he has directed the Times Company’s strategy and presided over an expansion of its digital and global operations. Previously, Mr. Thompson served as director general of the British Braodcastin Corporation (BBC), where he ensured that it remained a leading innovator with the launch of services including BBC iPlayer. Mr. Thompson joined the BBC in 1979. He left for two years in 2002 to become C.E.O. of Channel 4 Television in the U.K. before returning to the BBC in 2004 as director general. His book, “Enough Said: What’s Gone Wrong With the Language of Politics?” based on his lectures as a visiting professor at Oxford University, was published in Britain and the United States in September 2016. Mr. Thompson was educated at Stonyhurst College and Merton College, Oxford.

Patrick Chappatte
The New York Times
Editorial Cartoonist
Patrick Chappatte is an editorial cartoonist for The New York Times. Formerly, he had been with The International Herald Tribune since 2001. He won the Overseas Press Club of America’s Thomas Nast Award for best cartoons on international affairs in 2011 and 2015. In the last 20 years, Mr. Chappatte has been exploring comics journalism. His latest project, with his journalist wife Anne-Frédérique Widmann, is a five-part graphic journalism series, “Inside Death Row” published by The New York Times website in May 2016. Through a series of collaborative initiatives called “Crossed Pens,” Mr. Chappatte gathers editorial cartoonists in conflict-ridden countries to foster a dialogue on human rights through cartoons. He also co-founded the Cartooning for Peace Foundation” in Geneva, whose honorary chairman is Kofi Annan. Born in 1967 in Pakistan to a Lebanese mother and Swiss father, and raised in Singapore and Geneva, Mr. Chappatte has lived in New York and Los Angeles and is now based in Geneva.


Roger Cohen
The New York Times
Op-Ed Columnist
Roger Cohen has worked for The New York Times for over 25 years as a foreign correspondent, foreign editor, and columnist. Prior to that he worked for The Wall Street Journal and Reuters. He is the author of four books. The latest, a family memoir entitled, “The Girl from Human Street: Ghosts of Memory in a Jewish Family,” was published by Alfred A. Knopf in January 2015. Raised in South Africa and England, and a graduate of Balliol College, Oxford, he is a naturalized American. Mr. Cohen also serves on the Athens Democracy Forum Advisory Board.

Katrin Bennhold
The New York Times
Staff Correspondent
Katrin Bennhold has been a correspondent for The New York Times since 2004. Based first in Paris and now in London, she has been writing on a range of topics from European politics and terrorism to gender and immigration. Previously, Ms. Bennhold was an economics writer for Bloomberg News and a presenter on Bloomberg Television. Ms. Bennhold was a Nieman fellow at Harvard University in 2012 and 2013. She has received various awards, including the Premio Luchetta in 2016 for her reporting on child migrants, and The New York Times Publisher’s Award in 2008 and again in 2010. Ms. Bennhold received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in economics from the London School of Economics. She was born in Germany and spent most of her career in Paris. She currently lives with her husband and three children in London.

Adam Bryant
The New York Times
Corner Office Columnist and Editorial Director, NYTLive
Adam Bryant conducts interviews with chief executives for Corner Office, a weekly feature about leadership and management that he started in 2009. In 2016, he was also named editorial director of NYTLive, The Times’s global conference enterprise. Mr. Bryant has had many roles at The Times, including deputy science editor, business reporter, deputy business editor, deputy national editor and senior editor for features. He is also a former senior writer and business editor at Newsweek magazine. Mr. Bryant is the author of “Quick and Nimble: Lessons from Leading CEOs on How to Create a Culture of Innovation,” published in 2014. His first book, “The Corner Office: Indispensable and Unexpected Lessons from CEOs on How to Lead and Succeed,” published in 2011 and was a New York Times best seller.


Agenda is subject to change

Wednesday, September 13, 2017
Registration Opens 10:00 AM  
Welcome Cocktail Reception and “The Aristotle Address” 6:00 PM
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Registration and Refreshments 8:30 AM  
Welcome Remarks 9:00 AM  
Lunch 2:00 PM  
Keynote Address and Global Conversation with Roger Cohen, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times 6:30 PM
Conference Dinner and Cocktail Reception 7:30 PM  
Concert at the Odeon of Herodes Atticus 9:30 PM  
Government for the People...or Government with the People?  
Keynote Address    
Is More “People Power” a Boon or Bane?  
Democratizing Democracy - A Better Way Forward?  
Coffee Break    
The Power of the Political Cartoonist  
What is Political Discourse in the Post-Truth Era?  
The Future of Polling  
Flat No More?  
Taking Back Control...And Better Off for It?  
Friday, September 15, 2017
Breakfast Panel with The New York Times 9:00 AM
Closing Keynote Address 11:30 AM  
Closing Remarks 12:00 PM  
Lunch 12:30 PM  
Bridging The Generational Gap  
Saturday, September 16, 2017
Film and Democracy Weekend at Costa Navarino  
Sunday, September 17, 2017
Film and Democracy Weekend at Costa Navarino  

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