Election Universe

How to celebrate Democracy Day? 3 Perspectives beyond elections

How to celebrate Democracy Day? 3 Perspectives beyond elections
September 12 2018, 21:40

Democracy is as much a process as a goal. It represents a mode of government and community coexistence that requires broad engagement and input by ruling bodies, individuals and all socio-political stakeholders. And this 15 of September, we celebrate the International Day of Democracy.

To agree on a set of values and principles to follow is a long and complicated process. However, according to the United Nations, it is an achievable goal as long as societies commit to getting involved in policymaking and politics, demand respect for human rights and restore their trust in their institutions and representatives. Therefore, the 2018 theme of the holiday is “Democracy under Strain: Solutions for a Changing World.”

Three perspectives on how to tackle the demands and challenges of our current brave new world (from international organisations such as The UN, The OHCHR, or The IPU) are bringing global stakeholders together -in virtual or offline events- to work on strengthening democracy. The proposals include 1) following the sustainable development goals; 2) encouraging public discussions about policymaking on human rights and the rule of law; and 3) setting up check and balances within parliaments and government accountability.

1) Promote SDGs on their 3rd anniversary

In September 2015, all the United Nations members adopted the 2030 Agenda as “a plan of action for people, planet, and prosperity, seeking to strengthen universal peace in larger freedom and eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions.” The seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the backbone of the Agenda and their reach their third anniversary this month.

On this occasion, we bring to the table, Goal 16, as one of the best inspirations: “Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” The SDGs are certainly not a silver bullet to achieve a higher level of democratic accomplishment, but they give specific, practical, and consented guidelines to walk the talk.

2)  Discuss policymaking at the 2nd Forum on Human Rights and Democracy

The second session of the United Nations Forum on Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law will take place later this year (22-23 November 2018 at Palais des Nations in Geneva) organized by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR.) The conference theme is “Parliaments as promoters of human rights, democracy and the rule of law”.

It will be an excellent opportunity to debate the foundations of democracy, representation, and parliament work while sharing learning experiences and solutions. The purpose of the Forum is “to provide a platform for identifying and analyzing best practices, challenges, and opportunities for States in their efforts to secure respect for human rights and the rule of law.” Save the date!

3)  Join the IPU campaign to demand parliamentary oversight

The Inter-Parliamentary Union celebration of the 21st anniversary of their Universal Declaration takes part the same day (September 15) of the International Day of Democracy. This year the IPU representatives are calling to discuss and evaluate the importance of parliamentary oversight. Under a campaign focused on “What if parliamentary oversight did not exist?” The union will try to bring the attention back to parliamentarians’ accountability and control, a core function of congresses and a vital part of the checks and balances in any healthy democracy.

We usually focus on elections in this blog, but this year let us celebrate Democracy recognizing that successful voting needs to pair with strong institutions, open social debates on human rights, and firm commitment to a sustainable future.