International Day of Democracy
15 September, 2015
Today marks the International Day of Democracy. Established by the United Nations General Assembly in 2007 (A/62/7), the International Day of Democracy aims to encourage governments to strengthen their commitment to the promotion and consolidation of democratic values. This year’s initiative focuses on the role civil society plays within a successful democracy.
The theme of ‘Space for Civil Society’ was chosen to reinvigorate efforts towards enabling successful democracies. It serves to highlight the role that civil society plays in not only holding governments to account, but also working in collaboration with policymakers on common goals for a better future.
Wilton Park recognises the influence civil society leaders have on good governance and is aware of the importance of a strong and freely operating civil society in ensuring a successful and stable democracy. We endeavour to reflect this in the work we do by bringing together a range of diverse actors from all sectors of civil society involved for informal debate, with all participating on an equal basis. Wilton Park events often have civil society leaders playing a key role in programmes as both participants and speakers.
Our event Promoting the human rights of LGBT persons: next steps for international institutions and civil society in September 2014 brought together the relevant stakeholders from international and regional institutions, policy makers, legislators, civil society and academia with the goal of identifying future leadership and ways in which the human rights situation for LGBT persons can be best supported by all actors in the international system.
In addition, we run a host of events on different aspects of democratic rule. In April 2012, we convened Supporting democracy: engaging and developing policies with transition countries – the role of rising global actors?. This event saw policy makers, analysts, and civil society representatives from rising democracies, and their counterparts in established democratic powers, meet with the aims of exploring and improving understanding of differing conceptions of how best to support democracy internationally and identifying how to build cooperation in concrete situations.
Furthermore, the UK has long played a global role in promoting democratic values, more specifically the role of civil society in supporting initiatives such as the Westminster Foundation for Democracy. The Foundation assists the development of inclusive democracies by working with overseas parliaments, political parties and civil society. This year the UK, to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta, will launch a new fund, the ‘Magna Carta Partnerships.’ This will provide support in the form of deploying UK expertise to countries in transition or crisis.
Civil society continues to play a crucial role in democracy, and Wilton Park is proud of its strong relationship with civil society groups and looks forward to more successful partnerships in the future.