Democracy means giving real voice to people, says UN chief

Published September 15, 2021
In this file photo, UN secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the media as he arrives on the first day of the European Union summit at The European Council Building in Brussels, Belgium. — Reuters/File
In this file photo, UN secretary-General Antonio Guterres addresses the media as he arrives on the first day of the European Union summit at The European Council Building in Brussels, Belgium. — Reuters/File

ISLAMABAD: The Inter­national Day of Democracy, being observed on Wednes­day (today), provides an op­­p­­­­ortunity to review the state of democracy in Pakistan.

“Strengthening democracy means embracing genuine participation in decision-making, including peaceful protests, giving a real voice to people and communities that have traditionally been excluded,” Antonio Guterres said in a message on the eve of the International Day of Democracy.

“The silencing of women, religious and ethnic minorities, indigenous communities, people with disabilities, human rights defenders and journalists is an impediment to creating hea­lthy societies. Democracy simply cannot survive, let alone flourish, in the absence of civic space,” the UN secretary general said.

Finally, safeguarding democracy means phasing out emergency powers and laws as the worst of the pandemic subsides. Some states and security sector institutions rely on emergency powers because they offer shortcuts.

With time, such powers can seep into legal frameworks and become permanent, undermining the rule of law and consuming the fundamental freedoms and human rights that serve as a bedrock for democracy, the UN chief said.

Published in Dawn, September 15th, 2021

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