From: Alice Taylor
UN Calls on World Leaders to Respect Human Rights Including Democracy

The United Nations has called on world leaders to build a more “equal, inclusive, and sustainable world with full respect for human rights.”

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres underlined the importance of democracy for ensuring the free flow of information, participation in decision making, and accountability, particularly in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He said that even before the pandemic, frustration was rising and trust in authorities was declining. Governments must do more to people demanding change, he added.

Gutteres said that since the beginning of the crisis, many countries had used the pandemic as an excuse to restrict democratic processes and civil space. This is dangerous, he said, in places where democracy’s roots are already shallow and institutional checks and balances are weak.

The UN chief also highlighted that the crisis brought to the fore, and aggravated, long-neglected injustices – from inadequate health systems to social protection gaps, digital divides and unequal access to education; from environmental degradation to racial discrimination and violence against women.  

“Along with the profound human toll, these inequalities are themselves threats to democracy,” he said. 

International Day of Democracy was established in 2007 by the UN General Assembly which reaffirmed that democracy is a universal value based on the freely-expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems.