Young people should be offered involvement in responsible and challenging actions that meet genuine needs. They should have the opportunity to participate in planning and decision-making. 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.
The values of freedom, respect for human rights and the principle of holding periodic and genuine elections by universal suffrage are essential elements of democracy. In turn, democracy provides the natural environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights. These values are embodied in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and further developed in the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rightswhich enshrines a host of political rights and civil liberties underpinning meaningful democracies.
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.
We, at the World Assembly of Youth, believe that meaningful democracy requires the meaningful participation of youth. Young people have much to offer societies from innovation to creativity to new thinking. Their participation in democracy promotes active citizenship, strengthens social responsibility and can enhance democratic processes and institutions. And today’s young citizens are tomorrow’s leaders and decision-makers. As our contribution in observing the International Day of Democracy, we, at WAY, seek to participate in promoting democracy in every way possible by having a sense of responsibility, especially towards the youth, that is to protect their rights and ensure that their voices are heard. Since our establishment, we have recognized and adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in both our internal and external activities, including discussions, dialogues, and workshops with the aims of supporting and endorsing youth’s participation in the communities.
Yet young people’s engagement with democracy faces significant challenges threatening the future of healthy democracies. On this day, we would like to reiterate our call to all young people to be responsibly courageous in speaking up their thought and opinion, to contribute in making betterment and positive changes for better world of tomorrow.