The International Day of Democracy was observed across the world on 15 September 2017. The day was celebrated this year with the theme ‘Democracy and Conflict prevention’.
This year’s theme focuses on the critical need to strengthen democratic institutions to promote peace and stability.
• These are societies that are able to mitigate disputes through mediation, dialogue and a reasonable degree of legitimacy of their institutions.
• However, in order to create and foster such resilient societies, effective and inclusive democratic governance is required that not only has respect for human rights but also for the rule of law.
How to achieve it?
• Developing effective conflict prevention mechanisms and infrastructures provide a foundation to resolve grievances and sustain peace.
• Processes, such as peace agreements, elections and constitutional reforms, also help maintain equilibrium between competing interests and reduce fragility and the likelihood of organized violence.
• Strong leadership that helps strengthen civil society, empower women, supports democracy and upholds the rule of law, is also fundamental to preserve peace and stability.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which was adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at a historic UN Summit, also addresses democracy in Sustainable Development Goal 16.
• The International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world.
• Democracy is both a process as well as a goal and can only be made a reality if it has full support and participation by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals.
• The essential elements of democracy include values of freedom, respect for human rights and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections by universal suffrage.
• These values are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
• Democracy too, in turn, provides the natural environment for the protection and effective realisation of human rights.