Wednesday is the International Day of Democracy. “Let us commit ourselves to building a future in which we recognize human rights and the rule of law as fundamental elements of democracy,” said UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres in his message on this occasion. He also noted that “silencing women, religious and ethnic minorities, indigenous communities, people with disabilities, human rights defenders and journalists is making it difficult to build healthy societies.”
Celebrated on September 15 each year, International Democracy Day was established by a resolution of the United Nations General Assembly on November 8, 2007. Its purpose is to protect and promote democratic principles among all states and societies. The resolution also points to the universality of democratic principles.
Message from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres
A few days before the International Democracy Day, the UN Information Center in Warsaw published a message from UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres on this occasion.
“The world is struggling with the COVID-19 pandemic and its devastating consequences. We must learn from the last 18 months to strengthen democracy in times of crisis. We must develop and use good practice in emergency management in terms of public health, environment and financing.” – we read.
According to the UN chief, “this means working to tackle the gross injustices exposed by the crisis in the world – from pervasive gender inequality and inadequate healthcare systems to unequal access to vaccines, education, the internet and online services.” “The most deprived people pay the highest price. These persistent historical inequalities already pose a threat to democracy in themselves,” he assessed.
UN head: democracy cannot survive or flourish without civic space
“Strengthening democracy also means genuinely participating in decision-making. For example, traditionally excluded individuals and communities can express their voices in peaceful protests. Silencing women, religious and ethnic minorities, indigenous communities, people with disabilities, human rights defenders and journalists makes it difficult to build healthy societies “- emphasized Guterres.
He pointed out that “democracy simply cannot survive or flourish without civic space.”
“Finally, protecting democracy means gradually phasing out emergency powers and regulations as the pandemic subsides,” he said.
“Some states and security sector institutions, taking shortcuts, rely on extraordinary powers. Over time, these powers can enter the legal framework and remain there permanently, undermining the rule of law and violating the fundamental freedoms and human rights that underpin democracy.” we read further in the message.
“As I emphasized at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, any crisis poses a threat to democracy because the rights of people, especially the most vulnerable, are too easily ignored,” wrote the head of the UN. As he added, “for this reason, the protection of rights in times of crisis is a key element in my call to act on human rights.”
“On this International Democracy Day, let us look beyond the COVID-19 pandemic, let us commit to building a future where we recognize human rights and the rule of law as fundamental elements of democracy. Let us commit to protecting the principles of equality, participation and solidarity so that we can better weather the storm of future crises. “Antonio Guterres summed up.
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