These events are just some of the ways in which countries are marking International Day of Democracy 2015, under the theme ‘Public participation for democracy’.
Events from around the world will be added as we approach International Day of Democracy and in the weeks following 15 September – so please visit again to see the latest updates.
On 21 September, the Andorran Parliament will celebrate International Day of Democracy by holding a guided tour of the country’s new parliament building and a roundtable about senior citizens and their participation in democracy.
On 15 September, Parliament highlighted Democracy Day through its website and via the media.
In the Kingdom of Bahrain, Parliament Speaker Ahmed bin Ibrahim Al-Mulla has marked International Day of Democracy. The Speaker stated that the democratic process pursued by Bahrain since the launch of the royal reform has contributed to promoting the country’s international standing.
He added that democratic steps adopted by Bahrain regarding political and civil society institutions has paved the way for building partnership and respect for human rights and freedoms. The Speaker extended congratulations to HM King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa, HRH Prime Minister Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa and HRH Prince Salman bin Hamad Al Khalifa, Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander and First Deputy Prime Minister, and the people of Bahrain.
The National Assembly of Cameroon celebrated Democracy Day with an event themed on "Democracy and Citizenship". It was held in the Chamber of the Glass Palace Ngoa-Ekellé in Yaoundé, and was chaired by the President of the National Assembly, Djibril Cavaye Yeguié. The Prime Minister, Head of Government, Philemon Yang, cabinet members, ambassadors, political party representatives, media representatives, political science academics and students were in attendance.
The theme for Canada's Democracy Week 2015 (14-21 September) is "Let's Get Canada Ready to Vote." The week will give Canadians tools to start making their plan to vote by identifying where, when and the ways that they can register and vote in the upcoming 2015 federal election. The week will engage teachers as well as elementary and secondary school-aged youth with ideas on how they can be part of the week and be part of the 2015 federal election. International Day of Democracy has inspired Canada's Democracy Week, which has been held since 2011.
In Chile, Marco Antonio Núñez (PPD) – President of the Chamber of Deputies – made a statement highlighting the importance of Democracy Day and this year’s IPU theme of public participation for democracy. He stressed the need to continually strengthen democracy, and said that the day was a time to reflect on action both to expand and deepen democracy in Chile and to ensure that it is valued by the people. He highlighted the important role of Parliament, and said that strengthening democracy is crucial as the best system for peacefully resolving conflicts.
International Day of Democracy will be marked in Fiji with a panel discussion at the Big Committee Room, Parliament House at 5.30pm on 15 September. Panelists include Speaker of Parliament Dr Jiko Luveni; British High Commissioner Roderick I. Drummond; Head of the EU Delegation for the Pacific Ambassador Andrew Jacobs; Chief Executive Officer, Citizen’s Constitutional Forum Sara Bulutani Mataitawakilai; Director, Fiji Women’s Rights Movement Tara Chetty; and coordinator of the Leadership, Governance and Human Rights Program, USP Natasha Khan.
Speaker of Parliament Dr Luveni commended the role of civil societies in Fiji. The Speaker was quoted in media reports as saying that the role of civil society is vital in having a truly effective democracy, and that Parliament will continue to strive to uphold and promote the ideals of democracy and facilitate more space so that the voice of Fijians can be heard.
The Parliament of Finland and Demo Finland (Political Parties of Finland for Democracy) are organizing a seminar, “Dialogue as a means of reconciliation”, on International Day of Democracy. The event – from 8.30-12.45 at the Auditorium, Annex of the Parliament in Helsinki – marks the 10th anniversary of Demo Finland, which is a co-operative organization of Finnish parliamentary parties.
Opening remarks will be by Ms Maria Lohela, Speaker of the Parliament (Finns), and keynote speeches will be delivered by Dr Richard Youngs of Carnegie Europe and University of Warwick, and Ms Lenita Toivakka, Minister for International Trade & Development (National Coalition Party). These will be followed by panel discussions.
On 14-15 September in Tbilisi, the Parliament of Georgia will host a meeting of the Open Government Partnership’s Legislative Openness Working Group, which is chaired by the Congress of Chile and the National Democratic Institute. The meeting will feature a focused group of legislators, legislative staff, and civil society representatives to share experiences advancing legislative openness and explore ways in which the Open Government Partnership can be most effectively leveraged to advance public access to legislative information and processes. An illustrative conference agenda as well as logistical information can be seen here.
On 6 September 2015, there will be an open day at the German Bundestag. The public will be invited to visit the Reichstag building and other premises of parliament. This will be a good opportunity for citizens to get in touch with MPs, many of whom are expected to be present for answering questions. Most divisions of the parliamentary administration will also be present to engage with citizens and inform them about their activities – including the division ‘International Parliamentary Assemblies’, to which the secretariat of the German delegation to IPU belongs. Visitors will also be able to find out more about IPU and its activities, as well as International Day of Democracy.
The Parliament of India is to commemorate International Day of Democracy on 15 September. On the same, day, Lok Sabha Television (LSTV) will broadcast a play, ‘Raj Yogini Matoshree Ahilya Bai’. Also on Democracy Day, the Rajbhasha Prabhag (Department of Official Language), Lok Sabha Secretariat will organise a write-up competition on the subject of ‘Peoples’ responsibility in a democracy’ (‘Loktantra Mein Janata Ka Daayitva). Members of Parliament, members of the Secretariat and their family members will take part in the competition.
International Day of Democracy was celebrated in Nay Pyi Taw, with an event in Parliament attended by Union Parliament Speaker Thura Shwe Mann, opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi and government officials. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon sent a message to the event which was attended by representatives from UN agencies, about 20 political parties, civil society organisations and students.
The Myanmar government will make all efforts to ensure that the forthcoming 8 November general election will be free and fair, Myanmar President U Thein Sein said in a message delivered to mark International Day of Democracy.
For the first time, Democracy Day was commemorated in Pakistan’s Senate. Lawmakers in the upper house of parliament debated concerns over a perceived disconnect in civil-military relations.
Peru’s Congress of the Republic has planned several events marking International Day of Democracy Day. All citizens are being invited to a ‘Democracy for All’ event at Lima’s Plaza Bolívar on 14 September. This event will involve political parties, parliamentary groups, state institutions and civil society organizations.
On 15 September, a conference – "Democracy in Latin America and in Peru" – will be held. Guests will include María del Carmen Sacasa Ventura (UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Peru); Iguiñiz Javier Echevarria (Executive Secretary of the National Accord); and Percy Medina Masias (Head of Mission for Peru International Idea).
On 16 September, International IDEA will hold a large event in the Swedish Parliament with prominent guests – including the Swedish Crown Princess and former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan – being invited to celebrate IDEA’s 20 years as an organization.
On 23 September, the Swedish IPU-delegation is organizing a seminar in the Parliament about countering violent terrorism, gender equality, ISIS/international terrorism and preventive work. Mr. Hans Brun from the Swedish Defense College, who is Sweden’s leading authority on international terrorism, will participate, alongside Ms. Mona Sahlin, former party leader of Sweden’s largest political party, the Social Democrats, and also National Coordinator for efforts to counter violent extremism.
A brainstorming meeting was held in Togo’s parliamentary chamber to mark International Day of Democracy. The President of the National Assembly, Dama Dramani, highlighted issues about the operation of the Togolese National Assembly and how people view the institution, and how connections between the people and parliament could be strengthened. The meeting – themed on "Democracy and Citizenship" – was attended by 130 members, traditional leaders and leaders of civil society organizations.
Citizens in Tonga will gather on Democracy Day for a day of workshops, discussions and presentations, focused on ‘Making Space for Women’ in the country’s democratic institutions.
The activities will highlight the need for equitable participation by women in national and local elections, and in public affairs. The day will help prepare women to run as candidates in Tonga’s 2016 local elections for district and town officers. The events are being organised by Tonga’s Ministry of Internal Affairs, UNDP’s Tonga Governance Strengthening Programme and civil society groups.
The United Arab Emirates’ Federal National Council (FNC) made a statement to mark Democracy Day, commending the approach followed by the country’s leadership to enhance parliamentary life – part of the political empowerment programme of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and Ruler of Abu Dhabi. The FNC said that the President’s programme is aimed at promoting and consolidating the UAE’s approach to democracy.
The Executive Committees of the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union and the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association UK are hosting a reception to mark International Day of Democracy on 15 September 2015. The event will present an opportunity to find out more about the importance of inter-parliamentary dialogue in advancing parliamentary democracy globally, and the ways in which parliamentarians can become involved in both organisations’ activities.
In Uruguay, the parliamentary group of IPU commemorated International Day of Democracy by sharing IPU’s press release amongst members of parliament.
Together with the Library of the Legislature, the IPU group is also marking Democracy Day by organizing an event – "30 Years Democracy: Parliament and the Press” – on 30 September at 17.00 hours. This will include the screening of a film featuring a brief summary of the past three decades. The opening will be led by Vice President Lic. Raul Sendic, and Director of the Library of the Legislature, Esc. Rafael Andrade Benoit. Political scientist Dr. Daniel Chasquetti will moderate the event, and panelists are to include journalists, Jorge Burel, Dr. Juan Carlos Otormin, and Lic. Daniel Lema.
From 30 September 30 to 2 October 2, 2015, in the Central Hall of the Library, an exhibition of newspapers will highlight events that have shaped Uruguay’s democracy over the past 30 years.
International Day of Democracy was commemorated with an event themed on ‘Public Participation for Democracy’ at Parliament Buildings in Lusaka, on 27 September. IPU-Zambia president and Speaker of the National Assembly Patrick Matibini reportedly highlighted the connections between good governance and the participation of young people in democracy.
The day-long celebration involved dance and drama, and was attended by several members of parliament, including deputy ministers. Various activities were organised, including an essay writing competition for Lusaka-based secondary schools.
IPU Group honorary secretary and treasurer Doris Mwinga reportedly said that public participation was the bedrock on which democracy rested. Ms Mwinga, Clerk of the National Assembly, said that public participation enriched democracy and ensured better decision-making to strengthen accountability of political office bearers.
IPU is hosting a meeting – ‘Democracy and Youth Participation’ – involving young Swiss and foreign parliamentarians and young citizens, at its headquarters in Geneva on 15 September, from 14.30 hrs-17.30 hrs. The event will include discussions about how to increase young people’s involvement in democracy.
The meeting will be attended by IPU Secretary General Mr Martin Chungong, and Geneva State Chancellor Ms Anja Wyden Guelpa.
The second annual GLOW (Global Legislative Openness Week) runs from 7-15 September 2015. This week of openness activities around the world is led by the Legislative Openness Working Group of the Open Government Partnership, and members of the parliamentary openness community. The goal of the campaign is to advance legislative openness commitments and share best practices among parliaments and civil society organizations around the world.
Civil society is the oxygen of democracy – yet the freedom for civil society to operate is diminishing or even disappearing, said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in a statement issued to mark Democracy Day.
“An alarming number of governments have adopted restrictions that limit the ability of NGOs to work, or to receive funding, or both,” he said, also noting that a confident nation gives citizens a say and a role in the development of their country.
On 15 September, an event at UN Headquarters in New York – “Space for Civil Society” – is being organised by the United Nations Working Group on Democracy (a sub-group of the United Nations Executive Committee on Peace and Security), in cooperation with International IDEA (Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance).
The event will include a video message by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon; remarks by the Permanent Representatives / Deputy Permanent Representatives of Bhutan, Chile, Poland, Sierra Leone and Sweden; and a discussion with Nilda Bullain (Vice-President, International Center for Not-for-Profit Law), Arthur Larok (Co-Chair, ActionAid International Working Group on Civic and Political Space). It will be moderated by James Traub (Fellow, Center on International Cooperation; Columnist, ForeignPolicy.com).
Speaking ahead of International Day of Democracy, the UN Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, and the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Maina Kiai, deplored the increasing erosion of democracy by repressive policies in some countries and also by the increasing influence of vested interests at the expense of the public will. They called on UN Member States to ensure greater space for civil society, so that they may take their rightful place as key players in democracy.
In a statement marking International Day of Democracy 2015, Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma noted that democratic elections have been held in more than one third of the Commonwealth’s 53 member states. He said that this “signifies progress towards achieving a world in which all individuals are able freely and regularly to express their choice as to who should represent and lead them, and about decisions affecting the future of their lives and livelihoods.”
The Secretary-General said that alongside holding elections that meet the expectations of the people, democracy is also about practicing the culture of inclusion, empowerment and participation, respecting human rights and the rule of law, and promoting transparent and accountable representation. He said that civil society organisations have helped strengthen some of the most fundamental rights and freedoms necessary to build stronger and better democratic societies – sometimes being harassed, persecuted and imprisoned as a result of these activities.
A range of issues relating to democracy will frame the debate at the third, expanded Athens Democracy Forum (13-15 September). The event – hosted by the International New York Times and the United Nations Democracy Fund – takes place in Athens, Greece.
Held to coincide with International Day of Democracy, the annual forum at the foot of the Acropolis brings together diplomats, scholars, corporate executives, politicians, thought-leaders, and journalists from around the world to discuss the state of liberal democracies and the major challenges they face in the world today.
In addition to the main conference on September 15, there will be a program of affiliated events taking place throughout the city.
The Consortium for Elections and Political Process Strengthening (CEPPS) is inviting people to join a Twitter chat on International Day of Democracy from 11.00 am EDT – 12.00 pm EDT. The discussion will focus on space for civil society, which is this year’s UN theme for Democracy Day. Use #DemTalk to participate in the conversation and ask your questions.
The chat will be moderated by @CEPPS and led by representatives from the CEPPS core partner organizations: the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (@IFES1987), International Republican Institute (@IRIglobal), and National Democratic Institute (@NDI).
The Advancing Democratic Elections and Political Transitions (ADEPT) Consortium is hosting an event, ‘Celebrating International Democracy Day: Making It Meaningful for Women’ in Washington DC on 15 September, from 9:00 am – 10:30 am. The event takes place at World Learning, 1015 15th Street NW, 9th Floor Conference Room, Washington, DC 20005, USA.
There will be a discussion on how to make the values of democracy work for women, and what that means for designing and implementing more effective and innovative elections and political processes programs.
The event will be moderated by Don Steinberg, World Learning President and CEO. Speakers include Eileen Pennington, Associate Director of Women’s Empowerment at the Asia Foundation; Lisa Dickieson, Senior Vice President for Programs at Freedom House; and Laura Neuman, Director of the Carter Center’s Global Access to Information Programs.
In observance of International Day of Democracy, Afrobarometer released a new analysis indicating that the extent to which African countries put democratic ideals into practice varies widely across countries. According to the findings, barely half of citizens in 28 African countries surveyed by Afrobarometer consider their country a “full democracy” or a “democracy with minor problems,” and less than half are satisfied with how their democracy is working.
Afrobarometer is an African-led, non-partisan survey research project that measures citizen attitudes on democracy and governance, the economy, civil society, and other topics.
The Swiss canton of Geneva, home to IPU’s headquarters, is celebrating International Day of Democracy on 15 September with a week of events that includes bringing Swiss youth together with young MPs. It is the first time that any Swiss canton has officially marked the occasion.
The events, organized by canton and city authorities in partnership with Geneva University and Youth Parliament, as well as IPU, kicked off on 14 September with a “speed debating” session with the Youth Parliament.
On Democracy Day itself, secondary school pupils are debating and holding a ballot on lowering the minimum voting age to 16 in an event at Geneva’s Grand Conseil. Later, about 50 students, representatives of youth wings of political parties and members of Geneva’s Youth Parliament, will join young MPs from Switzerland and other countries at IPU headquarters. They will debate democracy and youth participation as well as ways to engage Geneva’s youth in the democratic process. The event at IPU is being organized with the backing of the Japanese foundation Worldwide Support for Development (WSD). Debates later on in the week will include ways to increase public participation in democracy and how to engage young people in politics.
parliamentarians whose cases are being studied by IPU’s Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians