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Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

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Warsaw, Poland, 23 October 2014 - Secretary-General's video message to the Warsaw Dialogue for Democracy - 23-25 October

Excellency, Mr. Grzegorz Schetnya, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Poland, Excellencies, Distinguished representatives of civil society, Ladies and gentlemen,

I commend you for observing the 25th anniversary of Poland’s transition to democracy with a global dialogue on ways to reverse the shrinking space for civil society.

In some places, the alarming trend is happening through overt means of oppression, such as increasingly restrictive laws and the persecution of activists and journalists.

In others, it is done by marginalizing civil society in national and international decision-making processes.

Wherever it happens, it is a violation of human rights and a threat to our future.

Democracy is the product of an active and vocal civil society. Without that, it cannot breathe. And as we have seen, time and again, where societies and governance systems are not broad-based, inclusive, responsive and accountable, it is difficult for peace, security and development to take hold. 

I especially encourage you to look at ways to secure space for young people to play a role in helping shape the future of civil society.  Today, they make up the largest generation of young people in history. They are connected and committed like no generation before.

The United Nations is ready to work with you to give young people the opportunity to make their voices heard. Let us give them room to build a better future for all. Let us find ways to keep society civil for generations to come.

Statements on 23 October 2014