International Day of Democracy
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International Day of Democracy

Every September 15th, the world celebrates the International Day of Democracy. It’s an important day that highlights the role of the freedom of speech, choice, and human rights. However, it is also an opportunity to reflect on the challenges of modern democracy.

This year’s central theme for the day is “Democracy under strain: solutions for a changing world.” Additionally, it’s the 70th anniversary of the International Day of Democracy.

A Short History of Democracy

Democracy is by no means a new concept. In fact, it dates back to the ancient Greeks, or to about the 6th century BCE. That said, at that time, democracy only took into account the opinions of wealthy males. It did not consider the rest of the population in the decision-making process.

Modern democracy, on the other hand, came about in the 19th century. England, France, and the United States were the pioneers in creating democratic societies. And today, over 100 countries practice a democratic political system. Here is a neat video on the history of democracy.

Democracy and Human Rights

There are four main aspects that constitute the concept of modern democracy. These are freedom of speech and religion, universal right to vote, the separation of power among institutions, and the respect for human rights.

Therefore, democracy is the natural way to protect human rights. In fact, it’s an essential building block required to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. That’s because democracies typically work off a constitution adopted by the people. These allow for regular and free elections which then lead to effective and accountable institutions.

Democracy under Strain: Solutions for a Changing World

“Democracy is showing greater strain than at any time in decades. That is why this International Day should make us look for ways to invigorate democracy and seek answers for the systemic challenges it faces.”UN Secretary-General, António Guterres.

As Guterres states, modern democracy faces a number of challenges today. For example, how does democracy fare in the face of climate change and mass migratory crises? What happens with democratic states in the midst of mega-cities and globalization? And how will innovation and new technologies affect the way we practice democracy.

The International Day of Democracy 2018 is an opportunity to review democratic values and the state of democracy in the world today. It is also a chance to reflect on any issues that modern democracy faces, and how to promote more inclusive democratic societies, both economically and politically.

Organizations that Promote Democracy

Lets put a smile on faces around the world

The United Nations

The United Nations (UN) is one of the principal promoters of democracy around the world. The majority of countries belong to the list of UN members. And while not all of these are democracies, the organization makes a strong effort to promote democratic values.

The Organization of American States

The Organization of American States (OAS) focuses specifically on countries located on the American continent. One of the organization’s main pillars is democracy promotion. They do so through a variety of programs. For example, the OAS sends regular electoral observation missions. They also have a strong human rights department.

OECD

Another organization that sends regular electoral observation missions is the Organization of Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). Their principle members are European countries along with a number of developed countries around the world. The OECD promotes democracy and economic development in member states and others.

African Union

53 member countries constitute the African Union today. They are working together to create united policies in the region. One of the missions of the African Union is to promote democracy across the continent. This includes dialog, promotion programs, and electoral observation.

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