15th of September “International Day of Democracy”

Sunday, September 15, 2013

The "International Day of Democracy" is the right time to think out loud about democracy, what means, what represents as everyday behaviour at a personal, local, regional and international scale, how the “democratic principles enshrined in the UNESCO’s Constitution in 1945can be better respected and implemented worldwide as the best solution   to face the present challenges.

 The situation is especially complex and difficult, especially in Europe, where have been the markets that have conditioned the political action to the point of, in the cradle of democracy such as Greece and Italy, to appoint the governments without elections. It was a terrible mistake allow to the “neoliberal globalizers” to substitute the ethical values by the market laws and the United Nations by plutocratic groups (G-6, G-7, G-8… G-20).  The systemic crisis is so profound that a “new beginning” is to be promptly envisaged. 

This year “leit motiv” of the International Day is “to reinforce voices in favour of democracy”. “In the heart of democracy –has written the Secretary General of the United Nations- lies the capacity to express the voice of the people to decide the way in which is to be governed”.

Today is possible, for the first time in history, the on-line participation thanks to modern communication technology. Use it, join voices, thousands, millions of voices, in order that "formal" democracy loses weight and genuine democracy, taking  into account permanently the citizens that represents, is strengthened.

I will never forget when, talking one day about "true" democracy, my father said to me: "Democracy is based on sharing". Those who have more, those more fortunate must show solidarity and offer equal opportunities to those who have less. Those who accumulate, those that evade their tax responsibilities, must not forget this: democracy is to share, to take permanently the others, specially the most vulnerable, into account.

The Charter of the UN, which was adopted on behalf of the «Peoples of the United Nations», reaffirms the «faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small»… However, the term “democracy” is not used in any of its provisions.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights only mentions democracy once in Article 29.2: “…human rights based mainly, but not solely, on the requirements “of morality, public order and the general welfare in a democratic society”.

During the “cold war” democracy took shelter in the regional Organizations (the European Council, the Organization of American States and, some time later, the European Union). Since 1989 democracy has continuously been dealt with   by international Organizations: United Nations, the African Union, the Inter-Parliamentary Union… which this year, precisely, promotes the celebration of the International Day in all its associated Parliaments in 162 countries.

Democracy can only exist if human rights are respected and protected, while human rights may in turn only flourish within a democratic regime.

For all the reasons mentioned above, some years ago we drafted –with Karel Vasak, Juan Antonio Carrillo Salcedo, Mario Soares, Edgar Morin, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar, François de Bernard…- one project of a “Universal Declaration of Democracy” that was presented in October 2012 in the European Council and, afterwards, has incorporated important remarks and comments from many specialists. The Declaration has right now a very important number of signatories (http://www.fund-culturadepaz.org/democracia_esp.php ).

It is the first time that democracy is dealt with in all its facets: political, economic, social, cultural and international democracy.

I think that is interesting to quote here the following articles of the Declaration:
“Article 1.     Democracy is a political, economic, social, cultural and international regime, based on the respect for human being, the supremacy and independence of justice and law, as well as on the possibility for any individual to participate in the life and development of society, in freedom and peace and in a favourable natural and cultural environment, being always fully conscious of the equal dignity and interdependence of the human beings”.
“Article 11.1 Democracy shall develop economic systems based on social justice, to which all the other aspects and dimensions of the economic life will be always subordinated, in a context of competence and fair and free cooperation,  in order to achieve a human and sustainable economic development  growth, shared prosperity, the promotion  of employment and labour, and a rational use of economic, nutritional, natural and energy resources, with the main objective of ensuring  to  everybody  to  have  access to  the goods and   services - particularly health services- necessary for a dignified life”.

Since it is based on freedom and human rights, the democratic regime is indeed the best guarantee for national and international peace, combining the efforts of all actors in social life: States, individuals, public and private organizations. Only in such conditions can a transition from a culture of imposition, domination, violence and war to a culture of conversation, conciliation, alliance and peace take place. Summing up: from force to word.