The International Day of Democracy is celebrated around the world on 15 September each year. It was established through a resolution passed by the UN General Assembly in 2007, with the purpose of promoting and upholding the principles of democracy—and invited all member states and organizations to commemorate the day in an appropriate manner that contributes to raising public awareness.
It provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world. Democracy is as much a process as a goal, and only with the full participation of and support by the international community, national governing bodies, civil society and individuals, can the ideal of democracy be made into a reality to be enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.
The International Day of Democracy owes its existence to the Universal Declaration on Democracy, which was adopted on 15 September 1997, by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), which is an international organisation of national parliaments. In the following years, Qatar led efforts to promote an International Day of Democracy. Finally, on 8 November 2007, the day was established as the UNGA adopted by consensus the resolution titled “Support by United Nations system of efforts of governments to promote and consolidate a new or restored democracies.”
The first such celebration took place in 2008. Every year, events take place under an individual theme. In 2020, the theme was “Covid-19: A Spotlight on Democracy,” while celebrations in 2019 took place under the theme “Participation.” From 2013 to 2016, the events took place under the taglines of “Strengthening voices for democracy,” “Engaging youth on democracy,” “Space for civil society” and “Democracy and 2030 agenda for sustainable development,” respectively, while that for 2018 was “Democracy under strain: Solutions for a changing world.”
To mark the first International Day of Democracy on 15 September 2008, the IPU will hold a special event at the House of Parliaments in Geneva. National parliaments are invited to organise their own democracy-related activities on that day to highlight the role of parliament as the cornerstone of democracy.