The third annual International Day of Democracy celebrated champions of democracy with the awarding of Democracy Ribbons and a full day of events in The Hague.
Declaring the first International Day of Democracy in 2008, the United Nations General Assembly resolved that “while democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy”, also noting that “the need to promote and protect democracy is as urgent now as ever” (UN Resolution A/RES/62/7).
In The Netherlands, International Day of Democracy 2010 was celebrated with a full-day programme including seminars, a debate and the awarding of Democracy Ribbons to three heroes of democracy. View the photo gallery.
The Democracy Ribbons have been specially designed for the International Day of Democracy in the Netherlands. This year three ribbons have been awarded to people who have shown exceptional commitment to the development of democracy.
With the awarding of the Democracy Ribbons, the hard work and commitment of the democracy heroes are placed in the spotlight, as a way of encouraging them to continue that work and to inspire others. A cash prize is also provided, to provide an opportunity for these defenders of democracy to invest in a selected initiative.
This year’s winners have been chosen by an experienced jury from a list of people and organisations nominated by the public. Amongst others, the jury features last year’s winners, including CMD-Kenya’s Njeri Kabeberi.
NIMD is proud to announce that the three winners of this year’s Democracy Ribbons are Mercedes Zandwijken, a local developer of social cohesion thinktanks; List 17, a political party created by a Dutch youth television programme; and the Palestinian-Israeli Peace NGO Forum, a bridge between Palestinian and Israeli civil society.
Video message from Ban Ki-moon
In a special video message which was played as part of the celebrations in The Hague, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon reinforced the vital connection between democratic principles, human rights and development:
Recently, in many parts of the world, we have seen serious threats to the hard-won gains in democratic governance. In some societies, champions of democracy and civil society activists have faced new confrontational measures. In others, the constitutional order has been subverted, upended, overthrown -- at times by violence.
We should all be troubled by any such backsliding, lest it become a trend. Setbacks in democratic advancement are setbacks for development. Development is far more likely to take hold if people are given a genuine say in their own governance, and a chance to share in the fruits of progress.
On this International Day of Democracy, let us recognize that democratic governance is a yearning shared and voiced by people the world over. Democracy is a goal in its own right, and an indispensable means for achieving development for all humankind. Let that message be heard at the MDG Summit and throughout the world.
About this year’s Democracy Ribbon winners
For the past five years, Mercedes Zandwijken has operated social cohesion think-tanks throughout Amsterdam. These local initiatives bring residents together to consider new ideas for the viability of their neighborhoods. This not only promotes involvement at the local level, but it also brings together residents of different backgrounds, making the best use of their own ability to work together to bring out and show the potential of their area. Through the social cohesion think-tanks, Mercedes has managed to achieve a greater quality of life in different neighborhoods, as well as a greater sense of unity and solidarity amongst local residents.
In the lead-up to the 2010 elections in the Netherlands, youth television station BNN set up a political party (List17) and then went about finding candidates interested in representing other young people in Parliament. Making a television program on the workings of the political party system was brilliant and targeted an important group, while also reminding us all that young people should not be overlooked. Through the creation of List 17, young people’s voices were heard, and they were also provided with a view of the workings of Dutch politics.
The Palestinian Israeli Peace NGO Forum
This forum is the ultimate bridge between Palestinian and Israeli civil society. Established by the Palestinian organisation Panorama Center and the Israeli Peres Center for Peace, the Palestinian Israeli Peace NGO Forum encourages dialogue and strengthens cooperation and interaction between the two peoples, in the hope that they will eventually live side by side and in peace. The Forum believes in the power of diplomacy and therefore focuses on influencing public opinion and policy.
About International Day of Democracy in The Netherlands
In The Netherlands, four organisations have taken the initiative to celebrate this important day [link IDD website], namely: the Forum for Democratic Development (FDO), the Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD), the Institute for Public and Politics (IPP) and the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD). In addition, the Ministry of Interior Affairs is organising a debate in the afternoon.
The International Day of Democracy has been made possible by Fonds 1818 (the 1818 Fund) and the NCDO.