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International Day of Democracy underscores the need for Fourth Estate freedom

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International Day of Democracy

Even as we celebrated the International Day of Democracy on September 15, it is a little disheartening to note that democracies around the world are weakening and one of the most critical reasons is that media freedom is being hampered.

“Across the world, democracy is backsliding. Media workers face censorship, detention & physical violence, often with impunity.

Without a free press, democracy cannot survive. Now is the time to stand up for democratic principles & protect the rights of all,” said António Guterres, UN Secretary-General.

This year, Democracy Day 2022, focussed on the importance of freedom of the media to democracy, peace, and delivering on the Sustainable Development Goals. This day also provides an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world.

UN has been playing a key role in advocating for media freedom. In 2012 it started the UN Plan of Action on the Safety of Journalists and the Issue of Impunity initiative.

A discussion as part of the SDG Roundtable series was organized by the UN office in partnership with the UN Democracy Fund to mark the International Day of Democracy.

A resolution was passed by UN General Assembly in 2007 to celebrate September 15 of every year as the International Day of Democracy.

One of the key objectives of this day is to cherish the values that democracy upholds and that government plays in preserving open democracy among all UN Charter signatory nations. Democracy empowers citizens to make decisions that affect every aspect of their lives.

Democracy Index

Meanwhile, a report released in February by the Economist Intelligence Unit said the world’s largest democracy India stood at 46th position in the 2021 Democracy Index’s global ranking with a score of 6.91. In this report, Norway topped the list with the highest score of 9.75. India’s neighbor Pakistan was way far off India in the ranking and placed at the 104th spot in the hybrid regime category.

The top countries in the report are Norway, New Zealand, Finland, Sweden, Iceland, Denmark, Ireland, Taiwan, Australia, and Switzerland.

Political participation, political culture, the functioning of the government, and civil liberties form the basis of the report. The report has been further divided into four categories: authoritarian, hybrid, flawed democracy, and full democracy.

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