"I call on members of the largest generation of youth in history to confront challenges and consider what you can do to resolve them. To take control of your destiny and translate your dreams into a better future for all."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
2014 Theme: Engaging Young People on Democracy
Afghans head to vote in historic elections. Fardin Waezi / UNAMA
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.
Polling Staff at Work in Sudanese National Elections
UN Photo/Mohamed Siddig
This year's theme - Engaging Young People on Democracy - highlights the challenges and opportunities of young people engaging in democratic processes.
People between the ages of 15 and 25 constitute a fifth of the world’s population. In many developing countries, the proportion is even higher – with the majority of young people today living in low - and middle-income countries.
Yet study after study shows declining faith among young people in politics as we know it, with decreasing levels of participation in elections, political parties and traditional social organizations across the world. This applies to both established and emerging democracies.
At the same time, informal, youth-led movements for democratic change are on the rise in a number of countries – including in fragile states. Using new communication channels in social networks, young people are making their mark on democracy-building in untraditional ways. On social media, use the hashtag #DemocracyDay.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union is promoting the International Day of Democracy through its Member Parliaments in 162 countries around the world.
For more information, see Democracy and the United Nations.