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U.S. Department of State

Diplomacy in Action

Launch of Inaugural Democracy Photo Challenge

Media Note
Office of the Spokesman
Washington, DC
July 7, 2010


Department of State and its partners are expanding the global Democracy is… conversation on July 7 with the launch of the inaugural Democracy Photo Challenge. The contest asks people around the world to complete the phrase “Democracy is…” through digital photos submitted online. The Democracy is… conversation leverages social networks and creative challenges to engage people around the world to share, consider, debate, and learn from diverse perspectives on democracy, ultimately reflecting the voices of all of the world’s citizens.

Photo entries will be accepted at from July 7 through midnight GMT July 28, 2010. Democracy is… partners worked with Google’s Picasa Web Albums team to create the contest platform, the first of its kind, specifically to power the Democracy Photo Challenge. An independent jury will select 36 finalists, and the public will choose 12 winning photos through a global online vote beginning August 19, the International Day of Photography and continuing through midnight GMT August 26. The winners will be announced on the United Nations’ International Day of Democracy, September 15, 2010, with the winning photographs exhibited at the UN in New York and in other venues.

Finalists will represent each of world’s six geographic regions: Western Hemisphere, East Asia Pacific, Europe, Africa, Near East and South and Central Asia. The jury co-chairs are:
  • Phil Borges, documentary photographer and founder of the nonprofit Bridges to Understandin
  • Willis Hartshorn, Ehrenkranz director of the International Center of Photography
  • Louie Psihoyos, Academy Award-winning documentary director (“The Cove”), photographer and executive director of the Oceanic Preservation Society

The Democracy is… global conversation, created by a unique public-private partnership, leverages social networks and various creative tools to engage people around the world to share, consider, debate, and learn from diverse perspectives on democracy. The Democracy Photo Challenge was inspired by the Democracy Video Challenge, an annual contest launched in 2008 asking young people to complete the phrase “Democracy is…” through short online videos. Over the last two years, more than 1,600 people from 111 countries submitted entries and spurred the online engagement of nearly 3.5 million people. In addition to the 2010 Democracy Video Challenge, the Democracy is… project spawned a Twitter challenge in which more than 1,400 people from 30 countries participated.

People around the world can track updates and join the real-time democracy conversation online at: and

For more background information please send an email to

PRN: 2010/903

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