UNDEF celebrates Day of Democracy in New York Athens


To mark the International Day of Democracy on 15 September, UNDEF co-organized two events – one at United Nations Headquarters in New York and the other in Athens, the birthplace of democracy.

The New York event was on the theme of "Democracy and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, one year after all 193 Member States of the United Nations adopted the Sustainable Development Goals -- a plan for achieving a better future for all, laying out a path over 15 years to end extreme poverty, fight inequality and injustice, and protect our planet. At the heart of the Agenda are the Sustainable Development Goals, which call for mobilizing efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change, while ensuring that no one is left behind. As UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his message  on the day: "Democratic principles run through the Agenda like a golden thread, from universal access to public goods, health care and education, as well as safe places to live and decent work opportunities for all. Goal 16 addresses democracy directly: it calls for inclusive societies and accountable institutions... On this International Day of Democracy, let us rededicate ourselves to democracy and dignity for all.”

The New York event featured remarks by Under-Secretary-General David Nabarro, Special Adviser of the Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development; Ms. Paddy Torsney, Permanent Observer to the United Nations of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; and Mr. Diego Firpo, Chief Executive Officer, TECHO.


The Athens Democracy Forum was held for the fourth year by The International New York Times in cooperation with UNDEF and Athens City Hall. This year’s programme, expanded to six days, included discussions at the Acropolis Museum, the Zappeion, the Megaron Conference Centre, Impact Hub Athens, Costa Navarino and the Ancient Agora of Athens – the very birthplace of democracy. Speakers included Prokopios Pavlopoulos, President of Greece; Giorgis Kaminis, Mayor of Athens; Christiane Amanpour; Geoffrey Robertson QC; Mario Monti, former Prime Minister of Italy; Paul Krugman and Roger Cohen of the New York Times; Stephen Dunbar-Johnson, President, International The New York Times;  European Commissioner Dimitris Avramopoulos; Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth; and Annika Savill, Executive Head of the UN Democracy Fund, who spoke in the Stoa of Attalos of the shrinking space for civil society in remarks linked here. Themes during the Forum included authoritarian regimes; migration; democracy and religion; democracy and business. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in a  video message of support to the Forum: “I send warm wishes to the Athens Democracy Forum. Thank you for coming together in the birthplace of democracy to observe this International Day, in cooperation with the United Nations Democracy Fund. In too many places, democracy is under assault…  This requires us to deploy all the fundamental components of democracy -- rule of law, accountable institutions, independent media, a strong civil society and the freedoms of expression and assembly. I thank all of you for using your creativity and influence as you discuss how to turn the democratic tide.” 


As part of the Athens Democracy Forum, the International New York Times and UNDEF also hosted a lunch at the Academy of Athens for public participation in and awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals. Seventeen discussion tables -- one for each Goal -- discussed priorities and arrived at cross-cutting recommendations.