"On this International Day of Democracy, I call on leaders to hear, respect and respond appropriately to the voices of the people, whether expressed directly or through elected representatives."
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon
2013 Theme: Strengthening Voices for Democracy
Malians cast their votes for the 2013 presidential elections at the Ecole de la Republique in Bamako. Photo MINUSMA/Marco Dormino
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 -- Strengthening Voices for Democracy -- aims to shine a spotlight on the importance of people's voices, both expressed directly and through their elected representatives, in today's political, economic, social, developmental, environmental and technological debates. The ability of people to raise their voices and decide how they are governed lies at the heart of democracy.
The Inter-Parliamentary Union is promoting the International Day of Democracy through its Member Parliaments in 162 countries around the world.