"In marking this year’s International Day of Democracy, let us [...] work to bring democracy education to all, and in particular, to those societies in transition that need it most."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
Timor-Leste Holds Parliamentary Elections, July 2012. (UN Photo/Martine Perret )
Democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives.
While democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy. Activities carried out by the United Nations in support of efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate democracy are undertaken in accordance with the UN Charter, and only at the specific request of the Member States concerned.
The UN General Assembly, in resolution A/62/7 (2007) encouraged Governments to strengthen national programmes devoted to the promotion and consolidation of democracy, and also decided that 15 September of each year should be observed as the International Day of Democracy.
The subject of this year's theme -- democracy education -- is essential for the long-term success of democracy. All citizens in all nations need to fully understand their rights and responsibilities, especially in countries that have recently transitioned to more democratic societies. Questions such as, “Why should I vote?”, “How can I influence my leaders?” “What can I reasonably expect from my elected officials?” or “What are my constitutional rights?” need to be addressed through civic institutions, in the free press and in classrooms. It is only with educated citizens that a sustainable culture of democracy can emerge.