Helen Clark: Statement at 2015 International Day of Democracy ‘Space for Civil Society’

Sep 15, 2015

Helen Clark - UNDP Administrator

At the heart of the idea of democracy is the notion that people’s engagement in public life is fundamentally a force for good which leads to the betterment of society. This engagement takes place through electoral processes, political party membership, and representation in political offices, as well as in independent spaces outside formal institutions. 

The theme of this year’s International Day of Democracy, ‘Space for Civil Society’, reminds us of the importance of civic space in achieving accountable governance and social justice, and of the need to protect this space and increase opportunities for dialogue between governments and citizens so that the diverse interests of populations, including the most vulnerable members, can be heard.

UNDP works globally with governments, development partners, and civil society actors to expand such space for civil society.

For example, in Tunisia, UNDP supported inclusive national dialogue on the drafting of the new Constitution by facilitating consultations between members of the National Constituent Assembly and more than 300 civil society organizations in Tunisia's 24 governorates. 

Vibrant, autonomous, and safe civic spaces enhance democracy. As we look ahead to the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals, it is important to acknowledge that the role of civil society will be critical to their success.

On this International Day of Democracy, I reaffirm UNDP’s commitment to supporting free and vibrant civic spaces which enable civil society actors, including always women and youth to contribute effectively to the building of more peaceful, just, and inclusive societies.

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