Democracy key to sustainable dev-IPU: More direct liability-expert

Democracy key to sustainable dev-IPU: More direct liability-expert

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Dhaka – The aspirations for a fairer world set out in the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will only be met if there is more democracy worldwide, said the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) on Wednesday, UNB news agency reported..
Marking the International Day of Democracy (15 September) with the theme “Democracy 2030″, IPU called on political leaders everywhere to strengthen connections between the globally agreed Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and citizens’ demands for greater transparency, accountability and inclusive decision-making.Meanwhile, speaking ahead of the International Day of Democracy that falls on Thursday, the United Nations Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Alfred de Zayas, has called on parliaments and governments to be responsive to people and not to lobbyists.
“Democracy must be lived and practiced every day. It entails much more than periodic voting, which in many cases is only pro forma, in the absence of public influence on the choice of candidates and scarce possibility of policy change,” the UN expert said, adding that democracy means a genuine correlation between the will of the people and legislation and policies that affect them, be it domestic or international.
More and more, ‘representative democracy’ has disappointed voters, because parliamentarians, once elected, rarely consult with their constituencies and sometimes take decisions that are clearly contrary to the expressed wishes of the electorate, said Zayas.
The frequent disconnect between parliaments and the people has led to a feeling of disenfranchisement in many countries, resulting in apathy, absenteeism and distrust, according to a message received here from Geneva on Wednesday.
Dissatisfaction with the performance of parliaments has opened the door to exploitation of social problems by populist politicians, the expert observed.
Representative democracy can only be considered ‘democratic’ when parliamentarians proactively inform constituencies about laws and treaties that will affect them, consult with them regularly and endeavour to implement their wishes in good faith.
At the very least, according to the UN expert, democracy requires full disclosure and multistakeholder participation, i.e. ‘participatory democracy’. In the absence of popular consent, it is inconceivable for democratically elected Parliaments to ratify such agreements.
“In order to generate democratic change, it must respect human rights, in particular pluralism, electoral law principles, freedom of opinion and expression, freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.”
He said the emergence of People Power is the best avenue to effect changes that will ensure human rights for all.
Parliaments must ensure that the voice of the people is taken into account when countries establish priorities, targets and indicators for the SDGs at the national level, according to a message received from Geneva.
Parliaments also have a crucial role to play in translating the sustainable development agenda into concrete national action – including by passing legislation, agreeing effective budgets and holding governments accountable for the commitments they have made, it said.
For the International Day of Democracy, IPU is also urging a broader strengthening of democracy, and is encouraging parliaments to use the Day for bringing diverse voices into politics and engaging the general public.
“We are inviting and challenging all parliaments to think innovatively about democracy’s future, including from the perspective of ensuring the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development succeeds,” said IPU President Saber Chowdhury.
“Parliaments have the opportunity for a symbiotic and historic win-win. More democracy could deliver real progress on sustainable development by 2030, which in turn could deliver more democracy – together with the huge benefits that offers,” he said.
All 193 UN Member States adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – a global commitment to end poverty and set the world on a sustainable path – in September 2015.
The Agenda’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals call for action to end poverty, fight inequality and tackle climate change, while ensuring no one is left behind.

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