International Day of Democracy
15 September, 2014
Today marks the International Day of Democracy. An event piloted by the United Nations which aims to promote democratic values worldwide. This year’s initiative is focused on the need to engage young people in the democratic process.
Since its establishment in 2007 by the General Assembly, the International Day of Democracy has aimed to promote democracy as a fundamental human right in accordance with the UN Charter. Every year hundreds of events across the globe encourage the engagement with and the spread of democratic values. This year the UN’s Working Group on Democracy is hosting a flagship discussion about the participation of young people. This theme is significant as a fifth the of the world’s population are between the ages of fifteen and twenty five, the majority of whom live in developing countries.
Democratic values have been an important part of Wilton Park’s ethos and are embedded in much of what we do. In June 2009, we hosted a discussion on Promoting Political Freedom and Deepening Democracy, which complemented the International Day of Democracy’s objectives of promoting and consolidating democracy. The meeting’s agenda also coincided with this year’s focus on engaging young people and assessing how changing demographics affect democratisation.
Our meetings have also focused on a wide range of issues relating to the consolidation of democracy across the world. In January 2012, as part of our annual human rights meetings series, sponsored by the Norwegian and Swiss governments, we hosted an event on Peaceful protest: a cornerstone of democracy – how to address the challenges? In the wake of popular protests across the Middle East, this discussion addressed the importance of human rights such as the rights to free assembly and expression to democracy, and the need to involve international and regional actors in protecting these rights.
In May 2011, we convened a forum to assess the increased impact of social media on democratic governance. This meeting recognised that social media presented both challenges and opportunities for deepening democracy, for the current and next generation of the world’s voters. These findings can be read in our report.