8 September 2009

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Democracy Contributes Powerfully to Economic Progress, International Peace,


Respect for Fundamental Rights Says Secretary-General on International Day


Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s message on the International Day of Democracy, observed 15 September:

The International Day of Democracy is a reaffirmation by the international community of its commitment to build participatory and inclusive societies, based on the rule of law and fundamental human rights.

Democracy is not only an end in itself; it contributes powerfully to economic and social progress, international peace and security and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms.

While democracy continues to be upheld as a universally relevant set of principles and an optimal social and political system, the challenges to consolidating democracy around the world remain formidable and numerous.  Restoring or building new democracies, preserving fragile democracies and improving the quality of even long-established democracies requires commitment and hard work.

The primary responsibility for democratic change lies within national societies.  At the same time, the international community can play a vital supportive role.  Indeed, demand for United Nations assistance with institution-building, elections, the rule of law, the strengthening of civil society and other key aspects of democracy has grown considerably.  This trend is likely to continue.

That means the United Nations needs to continually evaluate its efforts, with a particular focus on coherence, since there are many United Nations initiatives in this area.  To ensure that United Nations assistance truly helps to build national capacities and nurture democratic cultures, I have, as an essential first step, circulated a Guidance Note on Democracy to all parts of the United Nations, including field presences.  The note sets out the United Nations framework for democracy based on universal principles, and commits the Organization to principled, coherent and consistent action in support of democracy.

Democratic principles are woven throughout the normative fabric of the United Nations.  On this International Day, let us rededicate ourselves to those principles, and to promoting peace, development and human rights through the consolidation of democracy and the rule of law.

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For information media • not an official record