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In celebration of the 2018 International Day of Democracy

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This year’s International Day of Democracy is an opportunity to look for ways to invigorate democracy and seek answers to the systemic challenges it faces. It includes tackling economic and political inequalities, making democracies more inclusive by bringing the young and marginalized into the political system, and making democracies more innovative and responsive to emerging challenges such as migration and climate change.

With this year’s 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Day of Democracy is also an opportunity to highlight the values of freedom and respect for human rights as essential elements of democracy. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government” (Article 21.3), has inspired constitution-making around the world and contributed to global acceptance of democratic values and principles. Democracy, in turn, provides the natural environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development addresses democracy in Sustainable Development Goal 16 recognizing the indivisible links between peaceful societies and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.

“It means making our democracies more inclusive, by bringing the young and marginalized into the political system,” United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said at the official International Day of Democracy on Saturday.  “It means making democracies more innovative and responsive to emerging challenges.”

The UN chief encouraged everyone to look for ways of invigorating democratic systems and values, calling on people everywhere to seek answers to the challenges facing democratic governments the world over.

Lamenting that democracy “is showing greater strain than at any time in decades,” he stressed that working for a future that leaves no one behind, requires everyone to consider essential questions, such as:

  • What impact will migration or climate change have on democracy in the next generation?
  • How do we best harness the potential of new technologies while avoiding the dangers?
  • How do build better governance so that democracy delivers better lives and fully meets the public’s aspirations?

Democracy is particularly close to the current Secretary-General’s heart. In his 20s, Mr. Guterres was part of the Carnation Revolution of 1974, in which Portugal overthrew its authoritarian dictatorship. He went on to become Prime Minister of his country, between 1995, and 2002.

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