International Day for Democracy 2016
The International Day for Democracy September 15 is celebrated worldwide.
At the DIPD the day is an occasion to celebrate democratic progress around the world.
Chairman of DIPD, Henrik Bach Mortensen, elaborates:
We are working dedicated to support the development of democratic societies in Africa, Asia, Latin Amerika and the Middle East together with the Danish political parties. Democracy is more that free and regular elections. It is equally about fostering a democratic culture in which exists the necessary political space for debate. DIPD works through inspiration, knowledge sharing and capacity development on the basis of Danish democratic traditions and experiences.
The Day is celebrated in several partner countries, including Bhutan, where the Director of DIPD, Bjørn Førde, takes part in the celebration of the young democracy. Since 2012 DIPD has contributed to the democratic development in Bhutan and supported a number of organisations with a special focus on women’s political participation, multiparty platform as well as the role of civil society, with the aim to support a democratic culture.
Director of DIPD, Bjørn Førde, tells from Bhutan:
“It is extremely positive to witness how DIPD’s partners have strengthened the democracy at local level. Not least how energetic mobilization and capacity development has ensured a doubling of the number of female candidates since 2011 for the local elections, which will take place at the end of the month. But there are still many challenges for the young democracy, which we can support, including that the political parties are strengthened and find their proper place.”
Also in Myanmar the Democracy Day is celebrated. After the landslide victory to the National League for Democracy at the Parliamentary elections in 2015, Aung San Suu Kyi, the party and the are in the difficult process of consolidating the transition to democracy. In order to celebrate the day DIPD co-organises a panel debate on the importance of national reconciliation to consolidate the transition to democracy in Myanmar, with among other the chair of the Peace Commission of Myanmar. The Danish Ambassador HE Peter Lysholdt Hansen will also participate.
In Nepal DIPD is co-organising a significant regional conference on Women in Politics political participation and social justice together with the National multiparty platform, JOMPOPS, which consists of the six most important political parties, which has contributed to create a framework for cooperation and coalition building – including cooperation between parties in the process of formulating a new constitution. After 14 years of waiting there is now hope that local elections will finally take place later this year.
However the situation is also very delicate and difficult in a number of countries.
Chairman of DIPD, Henrik Bach Mortensen, explains:
“Across our partner countries we are unfortunately experiencing a number of serious challenges for example in Tanzania, where the Party in Government, CCM, very recently issued a ban on all kind of political meetings and prohibited transmission for parliamentary sessions etc. In Egypt, we can see, how the “Arab spring” sure enough flourished massively, but the old power institutions are now back in control. In Swaziland our partners fight even to bring democracy on the agenda and access to express themselves.”
Swaziland is one of the few remaining monarchies, where the role of the parliament is mainly advisory, while the King has kept the legislative power. The ten year old constitution guarantee in principle the rights of freedom of expression and assembly; however the legal status of the political parties is unclear. Nevertheless exists a number of political parties, which struggle for democracy is supported by DIPD. A delegation from the partner of the Social Democrats partner has just been at a study trip to Denmark and acquired insights in both the political work in the Parliament, Christiansborg and the Danish culture of dialogue and debate at the Youth Peoples Summit.
Background: The International Day of Democracy 2016
The UN has decided that International Day of Democracy 2016 should focus on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by UN member states a year ago. DIPD fully endorses this, and the critical role of parliaments in ensuring the agenda is translated into policies and laws to achieve the ambitious 17 goals – stipulates the importance of DIPDs democracy programme strengthening political parties.
The International Day of Democracy is an opportunity to take stock and celebrate progress, but also to take a closer look at where special attention is required because of backlashes, with shrinking space and democratic rights undermined and years of hard work aspiring to foster democratic culture being eroded.
During the process of shaping the SDGs, reference was made both to the social, economic and political human rights, emphasising their intrinsic value and instrumental potential towards achievement of sustainable development. The agenda and the 17 Goals, with their universal range gives a strong mandate to DIPDs type of democracy work.
The DIPD strategy for change take as its point of departure that political parties are important channels for choices of the electorate and thus for influence of the citizens on parliament and government and local bodies. Ideally, the political parties are instrumental in securing representation, inclusion and accountability.
The 2030 Agenda Declaration recognizes the need to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies that provide equal access to justice and are based on respect for human rights, on effective rule of law and good governance at all levels, and on transparent, effective and accountable institutions.
The work of DIPD on strengthening the capacity of political parties is answering to this end, as political parties potentially will play a crucial role in enhancing good governance at all levels, including by voicing citizens’ interests and hereby strengthen accountability. The establishment of DIPD by law of Parliament in 2010 signalled a commitment by the Danish political system to support the promotion and consolidation of democracy.
DIPD contributes to shaping and consolidating democracy in a variety of countries in Africa, Asia, Middle East and Latin America. With different historical backgrounds and present day realities, political parties and other stakeholders are facing similar challenges striving to develop a culture of multiparty dialogue.
The UN Secretary General states in his Message for the International Day of Democracy 2016
”Democratic principles run through the Agenda like a golden thread, from universal access to public goods, health care and education, as well as safe places to live and decent work opportunities for all. Goal 16 addresses democracy directly: it calls for inclusive societies and accountable institutions. The Goals demonstrate an important dynamic: effective democratic governance enhances quality of life for all people; and human development is more likely to take hold if people are given a real say in their own governance, and a chance to share in the fruits of progress.”