Amsterdam, the Netherlands – September 15 is the International Day of Democracy and AWEPA celebrates the opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world.
This year’s theme, set by the United Nations, is “Space for Civil Society”, as a reminder to governments everywhere that the hallmark of successful and stable democracies is the presence of a strong and freely operating civil society.
Democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives.
Globally, the role of civil society has never been more important than this year, as the world prepares to implement the post-2015 Development Agenda, agreed to by all the world’s governments. However, for civil society activists and organisations in a range of countries covering every continent, space is shrinking as some Governments have adopted restrictions that limit the ability of NGOs to work or to receive funding.
The International Day of Democracy was declared by the UN General Assembly in 2007, and it aims to encourage Governments to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy.
The link between democracy and human rights is captured in article 21(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: “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.”
AWEPA is driven by political leadership; and its leaders, both African and European, share a vision of reinvigorated parliaments as the foundations of future democracy, peace and prosperity.
For an overview of AWEPA’s programmes and activities, browse through the AWEPA Annual Report 2014.