NEW YORK — The United Nations has highlighted the importance of democratic processes to mark International Day of Democracy 2020. In 2007, the United Nations General Assembly reaffirmed the Universal Declaration on Democracy by instituting the International Day of Democracy on September 15 each year.

This year’s International Day of Democracy is an opportunity to urge governments to be transparent, responsive and accountable in their COVID-19 response and ensure that any emergency measures are legal, proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory. Democracy is built on inclusion, equal treatment and participation — and it is a fundamental building block for peace, sustainable development and human rights.

The unprecedented COVID-19 global crisis has resulted in major social, political and legal challenges globally. As states around the world adopt emergency measures to address the crisis, it is critical that they continue to uphold the rule of law, protect and respect international standards and basic principles of legality, and the right to access justice, remedies and due process.

The Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA) marked this special day and many of its 180 Branches in Parliaments and Legislatures across the Commonwealth celebrated International Day of Democracy 2020 with different events and activities.

In her video message to Commonwealth Parliamentarians and parliamentary staff, the Chairperson of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association (CPA), Hon. Emilia Lifaka, MP, Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly of Cameroon spoke about the importance of democracy in the Commonwealth to mark International Day of Democracy and encouraged Parliamentarians across the Commonwealth to reflect on what democracy means to them and share their experiences on this important day.

Commonwealth Parliamentarians from Cameroon, Australia, Canada, the Cook Islands and Ghana spoke about what democracy means to them in a series of video messages to mark International Day of Democracy.
The Commonwealth Parliamentarians speaking about democracy included: CPA Vice-Chairperson and President of the New South Wales Legislative Council, Hon. John Ajaka, MLC; CPA Small Branches Chairperson and Speaker of the Parliament of the Cook Islands, Hon. Niki Rattle; Hon. Osei Kyei Mensah Bonsu, MP, Majority Leader, Parliament of Ghana; and Hon. Yasmin Ratansi, MP, Parliament of Canada and CPA Canada Chairperson.

The CPA Secretary-General, Stephen Twigg also marked International Day of Democracy speaking at a virtual event on the ‘State of Democracy Globally’ organised by the British Group of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (BGIPU) and chaired by former UK Foreign Office Minister, Rt Hon. Harriet Baldwin, MP.

The CPA connects and supports Commonwealth Parliamentarians and their staff to identify benchmarks of good governance to promote democracy and offers its membership a range of opportunities to enhance their parliamentary knowledge and networking. It provides both established and newly elected Parliamentarians and Parliamentary staff with continuing professional development and encourages them to share experiences and knowledge with other Parliaments in the wider pursuit of democracy in the Commonwealth.