UN International Day of Democracy 2023
The International Day of Democracy provides an opportunity to review the state of freedom in the world. Freedom of expression in a democratic context is a fundamental human right, enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which acknowledges the right to hold a free opinion without interference and to access and exchange information and ideas regardless of frontiers.
This year’s theme “Empowering the next generation” focuses on young people’s essential role in advancing democracy. An active, engaged populace is crucial for supporting strong democracy, and we all need to ask how we can foster communities where young people feel empowered to contribute their voices meaningfully to creating their future landscapes.
Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the International Day of Democracy:
Democracy, the rule of law and respect for human rights are bedrocks of resilient, inclusive and peaceful societies. They underwrite freedom, advance sustainable development and protect the dignity and rights of every person. On the International Day of Democracy, we celebrate its promise to societies — and recognize the many threats it faces at this time of tension and turmoil.
The walls are closing in on civic spaces. Mis- and disinformation are poisoning public discourse, polarizing communities and eroding trust in institutions. This year’s theme — “Empowering the Next Generation” — focuses on the essential role of children and young people in safeguarding democracy today and in the future.
It is not enough to listen to children and young people. We must support them with massive investments in education, skills-building and lifelong learning. We must protect human rights and advance gender equality. And we must expand the meaningful participation of young people in decision-making processes at every level.
On this important Day, let us join hands across generations and work as one to build a more just world for all.