As free people, we sometimes take this for granted. Yet, when it’s absent; we thirst only for this one thing that can fill us up and make us whole. It’s democracy and every September 15, we celebrate International Day of Democracy. The United Nations created the holiday to celebrate the system of values democracy promotes, giving citizens the power to make decisions regarding all aspects of their lives.
The UN’s specific goal for International Democracy Day is to promote government’s role in maintaining open democracy among all member nations of the UN Charter. From democracy’s birth in ancient Greece thousands of years ago through trial and error up to today, most of the world’s nations choose democracy over all other forms of government. Despite modern-day strife and turmoil, democracy still works.
International Day of Democracy timeline
The U.S. Constitution
The document establishes the principles of democracy in the United States of America.
French revolutionaries' overthrow the last monarchy in France (and sentence the last monarch, Louis XVI, to death by guillotine).
King John of England cedes absolute power by signing the Magna Carta. Although it doesn't create a democracy, it forms the basis for a parliamentary form of government.
International Day of Democracy Activities
Every year, the UN holds official global events that spread awareness about democracy in action. Past themes have included encouraging young people to take part in democratic movements, addressing sustainable development and promoting civility within societies. Learn more about this year’s theme and events and see what you can do to take part.
Learn about democracy’s bumpy history
From the ancient times of the Greeks and Romans, the Dark Ages and the Enlightenment, all the way to our modern world; the spread of democracy has had its ups and downs (putting it mildly). Read a good historical novel or choose a documentary that will help you understand democracy and why it's so important today.
Become a better citizen
As a member of a democratic government, you wield great power. Democracy is both a goal and a process which hinges upon your involvement. Thanks to digital advancements, it’s now easier than ever to contact representatives, cast votes and make a difference in our unique form of government.
Why We Love International Day of Democracy
It gives the power to the people
Democracy is powerful because it gives a voice to a nation's citizens, enabling them to make changes as they see fit. One of the results of this form of government is that democratic changes create space for new economic theories to emerge, ultimately leading to a world of innovation and improvement.
It's based on change
A cornerstone of democratic societies is that they have the power to make change — when necessary. In principle, if things are going well, citizens have the power to maintain the status quo. But if things don't work out, it’s up to the people to throw out the old and bring in the new.
It’s based on equality
The founding documents of democratic governments put great emphasis on equality — one person, one vote, no matter who you are or your station in life. While this idea has not always been constant or popular over the centuries, equal rights under the law continues to be a central tenet of democratic governments around the world.