I am pleased to send greetings to all participants at the Sixth Bali Democracy Forum.
I thank the Government of Indonesia for hosting this important event.
This Forum offers a valuable opportunity for high-level officials from the Asia-Pacific region and beyond to discuss political cooperation and exchange experiences on building and supporting democracy.
In recent years, numerous societies worldwide have made significant strides towards inclusive politics, transparent and accountable governance, free media and a vibrant civil society. Yet too many remain closed, with considerable restrictions on human rights. In other countries, fragile advances in democracy are coming under threat as authorities place pressure on civil society and undermine rights to freedom of expression and association. Apathy and disillusionment can also sap democracy’s vitality.
As we continue to support efforts to build democratic space where it is scarce or non-existent, we must also defend, nurture and protect hard-won gains in democratic governance. This means focusing on strengthening democratic institutions and practices and deepening the democratic culture.
I welcome your attention to consolidating democracy in pluralistic societies. Diversity is a society’s strength, but without equal rights and opportunities, it can contribute to divisiveness, undermine democracy and even sow the seeds of conflict.
Consolidating democracy requires ensuring equal rights and opportunities for all and fostering the political, social and economic inclusion of individuals, regardless of their gender, sexual orientation or ethnic, religious or other background.
United Nations Member States committed in the Millennium Declaration to address the divisive factors in our societies in order to guarantee rights and opportunities for all. As we work to realize this imperative by the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals, we must also factor it into our vision for a post-2015 framework.
The Bali Democracy Forum promises to contribute to progress on peace and security, human rights and development. I wish you fruitful discussions and look forward to the outcome.