The International Day of Democracy

In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly declared 15 September the International Day of Democracy, providing us with “an opportunity to review the state of democracy in the world” and arguing that “democracy is as much a process as a goal” (UN). In many countries we can see a deterioration of conditions for democracies, through various forces both internal and external. This has become more noticeable during the ongoing pandemic, but it started long before, which is also indicated by instituting such a day 14 years ago.

Study some of the maps on the Secretary General’s policy brief from April 2020 – in particular the two on school closures and stringency of government containment measures. Also read the concerns and suggested countermeasures on the UN Democracy Day’s website and prepare for a discussion of what threatens a democracy and how we can strengthen it.

Also read the New York Times Learning Network’s editors Schulten and Engle’s introduction to the late Congressman John Lewis’ essay “Together, You Can Redeem the Soul of Our Nation”. Check out thoughts and responses on the hashtag #DemocracyDay and reflect on Schulten and Engle’s questions posed after Lewis’ essay, as published on the New York Times Learning Network exactly a year ago.  

The late civil rights activist and Congressman John Lewis argued that “[d]emocracy is not a state. It is an act”. Compare this with UN’s claim that democracy is both a process and a goal. What is democracy to you?


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