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Approved by the IPU Governing Council at its 182nd session
(Cape Town, 18 April 2008)

The United Nations has declared 15 September as the International Day of Democracy. Given the IPU's longstanding work in the promotion of democracy, the Council makes the following recommendations for celebration by the IPU and parliaments of this important day.

The IPU should inscribe 15 September on its work programme each year with activities to celebrate the day by national parliaments and by the IPU itself.  The celebrations would offer parliaments and the IPU an opportunity to pursue the following three objectives:

  • Emphasize the importance of democracy, what it involves, the challenges it faces as well as the opportunities it offers, and the central responsibility that all parliaments have as the key institution of democracy;
  • Examine and discuss in parliament how well it performs its democratic functions, possibly on the basis of a self-assessment, and identify what steps it may take to strengthen its effectiveness;
  • Disseminate the work that the IPU carries out with the support of all its Member Parliaments in the area of democracy.

The Council recommends to take a longer term view, recognizing that it will necessarily take time for parliaments and the international community to adapt to this new international day.  Some will do it sooner than others and some will not do anything at all, either because they already have similar activities fitting their agenda or they do not feel the need to do so.  What is important is to try to create a tradition where parliaments take a leading role in celebrating democracy.

It will also be judicious to adopt an incremental approach whereby, over time, the IPU builds up a substantial activity.  Having said that, the Executive Committee recommends that an early start takes place already this first year and, for that purpose, consider the following three elements for an IPU contribution to the International Day of Democracy in 2008:

(a)      Promote national parliamentary events: Parliaments could organize some form of open debate on democracy on 15 September (or as close thereto as feasible in the light of circumstances).  Such an event could take multiple forms such as:

  • Day of "open doors" in Parliament, when students and interested citizens could observe the parliamentary proceedings of the day;
  • Special debate in parliament focusing on ways of making parliament and the political process more representative, transparent, accessible, accountable and effective, i.e. more democratic;
  • National review of progress made in meeting international commitments in the area of democracy and human rights, with a focus on areas for future efforts;
  • Reading of the Universal Declaration on Democracy and/or adoption of a parliamentary resolution or declaration marking the International Day of Democracy;
  • Joint session / video-conference among two or more parliaments, addressing a democracy-related issue of common interest.

(b)      Organize a first celebration at IPU Headquarters:  The IPU could organize a first modest event at its Headquarters in Geneva with three possible components:

  • A media event consisting of a televised/webcasted debate that could focus on some of the major challenges to democracy represented by lack of public participation and confidence in democratic processes and institutions.  The debate could feature experts from reputed polling barometers, academia and political circles;
  • An exhibition of caricatures on democracy and political life.  The caricatures could focus on some of the basic questions that emerge from the IPU handbook on Parliament and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century;
  • Open doors at the IPU Headquarters where sectors of the general public (students, academia, participants in youth parliaments, civil-society organizations and others could be exposed to some of the work carried out by the IPU in the area of democracy.

(c)      Participate in an event to be organized with the United Nations in New York:  Discussions are just starting to determine the contours of a possible United Nations event organized at UN headquarters in New York, towards which the IPU could offer a parliamentary contribution based on the work of the Organization.

The IPU parliamentary handbook entitled Parliament and Democracy in the Twenty-First Century offers a conceptual framework that serves as a roadmap for IPU’s work to promote democracy.  Currently, the IPU is finalizing a self-assessment tool that is meant for use by parliaments interested in determining what they can do to strengthen their institution on the basis of the recommendations and good practices reflected in the handbook.  This tool could usefully inspire some parliaments when they are considering organizing an event on or around 15 September this year.

It is also possible to convert one of this year’s issues of the World of Parliaments into a special edition focussing on democracy.  Such a publication could serve to highlight some of the very valuable democracy related materials produced by the IPU and could assist parliaments as they plan and carry out any special activity to commemorate International Day of Democracy.  The publication could also be accompanied by a poster highlighting the International Day and the IPU Declaration on democracy

Note: you can download a complete electronic version of the brochure "Results of the 118th Assembly and related meetings of the Inter-Parliamentary Union" in PDF format (file size approximately 547K). This version requires Adobe Acrobat Reader, which you can download free of charge.Get Acrobat Reader