MIRPUR (AJK)-The humanity world over including those living in Azad Jammu & Kashmir is going to observe Universal Day of Democracy on Sunday - (today), media wing of United Nations Pakistan office told this Correspondent on Saturday.

In his message on the eve of the International Day of Democracy, the UN Secretary General said: “At heart, democracy is about people. It is built on inclusion, equal treatment and participation - and it is a fundamental building block for peace, sustainable development and human rights. These values and aspirations cannot be seen as tokens or lip service. They must be real in people’s lives. Yet the International Day of Democracy takes place at a time when trust is low and anxiety is high. People are frustrated by growing inequalities and unsettled by sweeping changes from globalization and technology. They see conflicts going unresolved, a climate emergency going unanswered, injustice going unaddressed, and civic space shrinking.

As we mark Democracy Day, I urge all governments to respect the right to active, substantive and meaningful participation; and I salute all of you who strive tirelessly to make this happen.”

This year’s International Day of Democracy is an opportunity to recall that democracy is about people. Democracy is built on inclusion, equal treatment and participation - and it is a fundamental building block for peace, sustainable development and human rights. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states that “the will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government” (article 21.3), has inspired constitution-making around the world and contributed to global acceptance of democratic values and principles. Democracy, in turn, provides the natural environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights.

True democracy is a two-way street, built on a constant dialogue between civil society and the political class. This dialogue must have real influence on political decisions. This is why political participation, civic space and social dialogue make up the very foundations of good governance. It is even more true with the impact of globalization and technological progress. And yet today, civic space is shrinking worldwide at an alarming rate.

Civil society activists are finding it increasingly difficult to operate. Human rights defenders and parliamentarians are under attack. Women remain vastly under-represented. Journalists face interference, and in some cases violence.

This International Day of Democracy, is an opportunity to urge all governments to respect their citizens’ right to active, substantive and meaningful participation in democracy.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development addresses democracy in Sustainable Development Goal 16 recognizing the indivisible links between peaceful societies and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions.

The International Day of Democracy 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.