The International Day of Democracy, observed on September 15th, was officially designated in 2007 via a resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). The establishment of the International Day of Democracy can be traced back to the Universal Declaration on Democracy, which was formally adopted on September 15, 1997, by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The IPU is an international organization that comprises national parliaments from various countries.
The theme for 2023 is ‘Empowering the Next Generation’, which the UN says is to encourage young people to get involved in democratic processes so they can have their voices heard.
The International Day of Democracy is observed every year with the purpose of promoting and upholding the principles of democracy. The hay offers an occasion to assess the global state of democracy. It emphasizes the fundamental values of freedom, human rights, respect, and the regular conduct of authentic elections by universal suffrage as vital components of democracy. Democracy serves as the natural framework for safeguarding and ensuring the effective fulfillment of human rights.
There’s no gainsaying talking about why democracy is crucial in the world we find ourselves in today. In a country where only one person has the power, rules can be made that people are not happy with, and have no choice but to follow them.
However in a system where everyone has a say, such as in a democracy, there are ways in which people can express their feelings and views and force change.
President Biden of the United States of America said democracy remains humanity’s most enduring means to advance prosperity, security, and dignity for all. According to him, American democracy has shown that it can tackle the challenges that matter most in peoples’ lives.
Biden also believes that the sustained democratic rule America has enjoyed from the days of its founding fathers laid the foundation for the prosperity and global standing the country enjoys today. He highlighted the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act —an act designed to deliver safe roads, clean water, and high-speed Internet to communities across the country and the Inflation Reduction Act—a historic law that lowers healthcare, prescription drug, and energy costs, and takes the most aggressive action to confront the climate crisis in history.
President Biden also touched on some democracies abroad starting with the ongoing conflict between Ukraine and Russia. When Russia launched its brutal assault against Ukraine, The United States, according to him, helped rally the world to stand with the people of Ukraine as they defended their liberty. The revitalization of the G7’s commitment to drive inclusive economic growth—including by launching the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment, which aims to mobilize $600 billion for quality infrastructure projects in low and middle-income countries by 2027 was also touched upon by Biden as a testament to the benefits of a democracy.
True, while the American democratic model is an aspiration for a lot of countries, it’s worth pointing out that just as it is with other countries, it is also not perfect. American democracy has arguably produced some of the greatest freedom, science, technological advances and innovation that the planet has yet seen.
It has also withstood a civil war, struggles over civil rights, waves of immigration that have always been met with intolerance — but the melting pot eventually did its job. This system has produced wealth and stability and a march toward fairness, however uneven. Its benefits may not be distributed equally, more often than not it bends toward justice.
U.S. Secretary of State, Antony Blinken in a statement released by the U.S. State department said “Democracy is more than a form of government; it sets the foundation for a society where everyone is free to be who they are, express what they think, and practice their beliefs. The United States is committed to upholding democratic values worldwide and strengthening democratic institutions as we work toward a world in which all people can fully and freely exercise their universal human rights”.
Unspoken in either the messages from Biden or Blinken is this reality. Democracy in the United States and abroad is under attack by elements that refuse to believe that the entire rule of law applies to them and their candidates or leaders; not just the parts they want to espouse.
Trying to manipulate elections, encourage voter suppression, gagging the media, blatant disregard for international law and the borders of a sovereign nation are all antithesis of democracy. How the global community intends to fix all of these promoting the democratic norms they claim to imbibe remains to be seen.