15 September 2013—The World Association for Christian Communication (WACC) calls on its members and networks to promote communication rights on International Day of Democracy, 15 September 2013.
Communication rights enable people to determine their own lives and to build communities based on genuine equality and mutual understanding. WACC’s members, partners and networks are invited to share their visions of a world in which justice, peace and sustainable development are available to all.
WACC advocates open and pluralistic media as essential to advancing democracy and social justice. It believes that freedom of expression and freedom of the press are vital to the political and social development of all countries.
According to the United Nations, democracy is a universal value based on the freely expressed will of people to determine their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects of their lives.
Yet, for many people, democracy is fragile and remains an unfilled promise. The current grave situations in countries like Syria, Egypt, and Burma point to the urgent need for democratic solutions. There are, however, signs of hope.
Sana Radwan of Women for Women’s Rights, a WACC partner and non-governmental organization working in Palestine, believes that, “2013 has the potential to be the greatest leap forward for democracy in the Arab World. People went into the squares for freedom, democracy and to bring change. Arab people are now optimistic. Their desire for freedom is very powerful and they are sure of their success.”
The theme of this year’s International Day of Democracy is “Strengthening Voices for Democracy”. It highlights the importance of people’s voices, both expressed directly and through their elected representatives, in today’s political, economic, social, developmental, environmental and technological debates.
The ability of people to raise their voices and decide how they are governed lies at the heart of democracy. However, the voices of journalists and ordinary people are being silenced.
Government censorship and surveillance are infiltrating democratic structures.
Peter Okubal, Programs Director of Panos Eastern Africa, a WACC partner in the region, says that democracy and the rule of law will never thrive where civil society is passive, where there is an absence of good governance, and where the media are restricted:
“Media are not just ‘voice’ but ‘effective voice’ – effective for accountability. ‘Voice’ means not just individual voices but voices aggregated through public debate to become ‘community voices’; voices not just complaining of problems but seeing and demanding solutions; voices not just speaking to one another within the community but voices in dialogue with local power-holders; and voices not just at the community level but across districts through radio broadcasting and reaching up to national and international levels.”
Communication rights enable all people everywhere to express themselves individually and collectively in order to improve their lives. They are vital to full participation in society and are, therefore, universal human rights belonging to every man, woman, and child.
On International Day of Democracy, WACC calls on governments and civil society to respect and defend democratic principles, the rule of law, and the right to communicate.