International Day of Democracy, celebrated on September 15, encourages governments worldwide to strengthen democracy and reflect on the benefits of a functioning democracy.
The elements of democracy became more practical and essential during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic, where human rights had to be respected. Still, strict limitations had to be established for safety precautions. Countries that fared better during this period were ones with a robust democratic foundation. Some countries successfully held peaceful elections, while others had to postpone or cancel elections. More than 78 countries waited or canceled elections, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Nonetheless, at least 88 countries successfully held national elections, though a lesser turnout in some countries than others, due to the risk of spreading COVID-19.
The pandemic hit every economy and put the capabilities of all world leaders, especially presidents and prime ministers, under question. Parliaments had to hasten their processes in decision-making to ensure the appropriate steps were taken in fighting the coronavirus disease. With all the challenges the global crises presented, businesses were expected to provide their services, and law enforcement agencies were expected to deliver peace, protection, and justice.
Democracy gave room for countries to provide medical emergency supplies and vaccines to worse-off countries collaboratively. Though arguments about authoritarian regimes managing the health crisis better than democracies arose, time has proven that democracies like Ghana, New Zealand, and South Korea are effectively managing the spread of the disease.
It is a proven fact that democracy is essential in the achievement of sustainable development goals. Democracy empowers citizens and organisations to take action in addressing societal, economic, and environmental problems. Decentralisation, a vital component of democracy, shows how development can be hastened instead of leaving all developmental progress in the hands of the elite or political leaders. Transparency, accountability, peace, and inclusivity, as highlighted in SDG 16, are instrumental in reducing violence, crime, conflicts, and hindering development. Global partnership for sustainable development can easily be achieved if countries are free from war, exploitation, torture, and crime, and institutions function like they are supposed to.
In light of observing International Democratic Day, here are some projects Bewsys has worked on to promote good governance and democracy.