UN chief urges ‘active, substantive and meaningful participation’ on International Day of Democracy

UN Photo/Agnieszka Mikulska Members of the Madheshi community of Biratnagar attend a political rally to demand autonomous federal regions and greater representation in parliament. (2008)

This article is brought to you in association with the United Nations.


On the International Day of Democracy, the United Nations chief urged each Government to respect its citizens’ right to “meaningful participation” in the political process.

“At heart, democracy is about people”, Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for Sunday.  “It is built on inclusion, equal treatment and participation, and it is a fundamental building block for peace, sustainable development and human rights”.

While saluting all who “strive tirelessly to make this happen”, he affirmed that these values and aspirations “cannot be seen as tokens or lip service” but must instead be “real in people’s lives”.

“Yet the International Day of Democracy takes place at a time when trust is low and anxiety is high”, Mr. Guterres continued. “People are frustrated by growing inequalities and unsettled by sweeping changes from globalization and technology”.

He attributed this to their seeing “conflicts going unresolved, a climate emergency going unanswered, injustice going unaddressed, and civic space shrinking”.

“As we mark Democracy Day, I urge all Governments to respect the right to active, substantive and meaningful participation”, concluded the Secretary-General.

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