The International Day of Democracy is an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world.
Democracy is a process but it is also a goal which can be reached with the full participation of and supported by the international community, national governing bodies, but also in the local governments in order to give citizens the opportunity to access them.
The values of freedom, respect for human rights and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections by universal suffrage are essential for the evolution of democracy.
I. The link between democracy and human rights
"The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures."
21th(3) article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
The UN General Assembly works to ensure democracy and the rule of law from a human rights perspective. The idea is that democracy should be consolidated by avoiding any infringement of human rights that leads to a decline in democracy. Democracy, human rights and the rule of law are interdependent: they have a symbiotic relationship within a system of governance. Democracy needs to be preserved in face of attacks such as violence, sectarianism, extremism and intolerance, as well as poverty, abuse of power, endemic economic and political corruption, impunity and the curtailment of fundamental freedoms.
Separation of powers is fundamental, as is the removal of barriers to participation in public life and decision-making, and the reduction of income disparities.
Better access to economic activity and social safety nets are important for a healthy democracy. Human rights and civic education should be systematically included in school and university curricula as they foster democratic culture and practices and contribute to promoting a culture of peace.
Democratisation must be achieved through comprehensive reforms, constructive promotion of democratic ideals, anchored in respect for human rights. International cooperation strategies for the promotion of a "global" democracy should focus on the promotion of all human rights, including civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights and the right to development. It is important to pursue a policy of promoting equality and fighting discrimination, and protecting the rights of women and disadvantaged and vulnerable groups. International exchanges should be encouraged to foster links and provide new opportunities for sharing experiences and comparative learning on democracy and the promotion of human rights.
II. The democracy at the local level
From the International Observatory of democracy we constantly work on all those principles and we try to adapt and to implement them in the best way at the local level.
We work to promote those rights in all our cities, also through our partners.
We work to implement those rights and to ensure that citizens can have equal access to them.
We create synergies between cities, organizations in order for them to think about the quality of democracy at the global level.
We try to promote all the innovative experiences implemented in all the regions of the world in order to let our members inspire their politics and develop the state of democracy in their cities.
On the occasion of International day of democracy with the Commission of Social inclusion and Human rights we propose to reflect on local government priorities to reinvent participatory democracy agendas.
We want to create A new generation for local participatory democracy by analysing the priorities defining the future agenda for local authorities.
III. Democracy Day in the Time of the Pandemic: A Sustainable Response to the Global Crisis based on Multilateralism and the Rule of Law
The international community is observing the International Day of Democracy at a time when the implications and gravity of the global crisis brought about by the pandemic are becoming increasingly patent.
But so are also the lessons we are learning from current experience that can guide the recovery and serve, in the words of the UN Secretary General, to "build back better".
A central element of these lessons is that the quality and sustainability of the recovery will depend to a very large extent on :
- governance capacity at all levels local, national and international;
- on the transparency and accountability of public institutions;
- and on strengthening people's trust in the state.
The impact of the pandemic on democratic institutions and procedures has added to the problems and crises already being felt by democracies.
From the IOPD in various sessions throughout these months we organized and participated to different event on the topic in order to think about how to strengthen democracy in the risks it faces:
The live learning session : Beyond the immediate response to the outbreak
Cities Are Listening
The preparatory session for the contribution to the Gold report
The preparatory session for the UCLG Forum of Intermediary Cities
Democracy Day in the Time of the Pandemic - Institute for democratic and electoral assistance
Study on common challenges faced by States in their efforts to ensure democracy and the rule of law from a human rights perspective