THE SECRETARY-GENERAL -- MESSAGE ON THE INTERNATIONAL DAY OF DEMOCRACY
15 September 2010
This year's observance of the International Day of Democracy falls just days before the Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations in New York.
As world leaders gather to push for faster progress ahead of the deadline of 2015, we have an important opportunity to underline the pivotal role that democracy plays in reducing poverty and promoting human well-being.
Five years ago at the World Summit, all the world's leaders agreed that democracy, development and human rights are interdependent and mutually reinforcing. And in the Millennium Declaration in 2000, all the world's Governments resolved “to spare no effort to promote democracy and strengthen the rule of law, as well as respect for all internationally recognized human rights and fundamental freedoms, including the right to development.”
Transparency, accountability, and responsive governance are essential if our work for development is to succeed.
Robust oversight, a vibrant civil society, the free exchange of information and ideas, popular participation -- all these hallmarks of democracy are also crucial ingredients in generating economic growth and securing social justice.
Democratic advancement is neither a linear nor irreversible process. Recently, in many parts of the world, we have seen serious threats to the hard-won gains in democratic governance. In some societies, champions of democracy and civil society activists have faced new confrontational measures. In others, the constitutional order has been subverted, upended, overthrown -- at times by violence.
We should all be troubled by any such backsliding, lest it become a trend. Setbacks in democratic advancement are setbacks for development. Development is far more likely to take hold if people are given a genuine say in their own governance, and a chance to share in the fruits of progress.
This imposes a responsibility on the international community. People the world over look to the United Nations to help safeguard and advance democracy, human rights and the rule of law. They look to us to live up to the commitments we have expressed over the past decade.
On this third International Day of Democracy, I ask citizens and their governments around the globe to commemorate the Day through activities highlighting their support for democracy. Let us recognize that democratic governance is a yearning shared and voiced by people the world over. Democracy is a goal in its own right, and an indispensable means for achieving development for all humankind. Let that message be heard at the MDG Summit and throughout the world.