An army helicopter showering flowers on the occasion of Democracy Day in Nepal. The day is marked by organizing various events/File Photo for Representation
KATHMANDU: Today marks the International Day of Democracy. The day is celebrated around the world on 15 September each year.
It was established through a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly in 2007, encouraging governments to strengthen and consolidate democracy.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) – the global organization of national parliaments- said it encouraged all its Member Parliaments to mark the day with events and celebrations.
Since the day was first observed in 2008, hundreds of parliamentary events have been held worldwide.
The International Day is an opportunity to review the state of democracy around the world, the IPU noted.
The 2022 International Day of Democracy theme is timely in reminding the stakeholders that the press plays a crucial role in ensuring accountability of democratic institutions.
Each year highlights a specific theme. Past themes have included stronger democracies, the importance of democracy for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, strengthening the voices of citizens, dialogue and inclusiveness, accountability, and political tolerance.
IPU noted that their support for International Democracy Day stems from their core belief that democracy requires the participation of all citizens.
“It is an opportunity to highlight the important role of parliaments, and to celebrate their capacity and mandate to deliver on justice, peace, development and human rights”.
It also noted that their work on International Democracy Day was part of efforts to build democracy.
In a message sent on the same occasion, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “Yet across the world, democracy is backsliding; civic space is shrinking”.
He said distrust and disinformation were growing and polarization was undermining democratic institutions.
“Now is the time to raise the alarm, to reaffirm that democracy, development, and human rights are interdependent and mutually reinforcing and stand up for the democratic principles of equality, inclusion, and solidarity”, he emphasized.
He also highlighted the need to stand with those who strive to secure the rule of law and promote the full participation in decision-making.
“This year, we focus on a cornerstone of democratic societies – free, independent, and pluralistic media”, he added.
Attempts to silence journalists are growing more brazen by the day – from verbal assault to online surveillance and legal harassment – especially against women journalists, the message reads.
Without a free press, democracy cannot survive. Without freedom of expression, there is no freedom, he asserted.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated regression of democracy across the globe and fundamental freedoms including people’s freedom of information are being suppressed, the IPU claimed.
“In this process, many media actors were targeted for simply doing their mandate. As we heal from the pandemic and as restrictions are gradually lifted we must demand and act towards the restoration of a free press, free expression, and widening of civic space”, the statement noted.
The Asia Democracy Network (ADN), on the occasion of the International Day of Democracy 2022, calls on all governments to ensure respect for freedom of press.
“Journalists should not be seen as a threat, rather partners carrying a mandate to ensure transparent information and delivery of truth to the public”, reads the statement issued by ADN.
The press serves as the citizens’ watchdog on every aspect of democratic governance and free flow of information, the organization stressed.
ADN furthermore calls upon the governments in Asia to ensure freedom of expression and widening space for all people.