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The United Nations has marked September 15th as the International Day of Democracy. On this day the UN urges all governments to promote and uphold the principles of democracy. This year, Democracy Day will focus on the importance of media freedom to democracy, peace, and delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals.

Freedom of expression is a fundamental human right, enshrined in Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. But around the world, there are governments and those wielding power who find many ways to obstruct it. The day is largely based on the Universal Declaration on Democracy, which was adopted on September 15, 1997, by the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU). The IPU is an international organisation of national parliaments.

It’s very easy for people who live in a free society to take their freedoms for granted. Free, independent and pluralistic media, able to keep the public informed on matters of public interest, is a key ingredient to democracy. But increasingly, journalists around the world face limits to their ability to operate freely – with a grave impact on human rights, democracy and development.


  • 350 BC - Aristotle wrote about various types of governments, including democracy, in order to compare the different systems and contemplate which was the most successful; these writings were influential to the development of modern-day democracy.

  • 1789 - The US Constitution sets forth the powers of the United States government and spells out important limitations of the government designed to protect the basic rights of American citizens.

  • 1893 - New Zealand was the first country to grant women the right to vote. They allowed women to participate in the election process before many other countries including the U.S. and UK.

UNESCO has reported that 85 percent of the world’s population experienced a decline in press freedom in their country in the past five years. Media globally are increasingly facing attacks, online and offline, increasing detention; the use of defamation laws as well as cybersecurity or hate speech laws to curb online expression. The COVID-19 crisis has also shown how it has become more critical than ever for the media to gather and evaluate facts and fight disinformation.

Attempts to silence journalists are growing and they often pay the ultimate price. From 2016 to the end of 2021, UNESCO recorded the killings of 455 journalists, who either died for their work or while on the job.



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