September 15 marks the observance of the International Day of Democracy. It is an opportunity to emphasize the benefits of inclusive democratic governance, and acknowledge the challenges it faces around the world.
This year, the theme is “freedom of the press.” With democracy retreating and authoritarianism rising in too many places around the globe, protecting a free and open press is even more critical to the preservation of democracy. That’s because a free press can expose corruption, make citizens aware of their rights by publicizing national laws and policies, and facilitate public discussion and the exchange of ideas. And it can also lay bare attempts by authoritarian leaders to undermine the rule of law, suppress free and fair elections, and roll back civil rights and the freedom of expression.
The United States values democracy because, in the words of Secretary of State Antony Blinken, “free and democratic societies have healthier citizens, less violent conflict, and more prosperous communities. Indeed, democracy delivers for the many, not the few.” Democracy, he said, “best addresses the greatest challenges of our time.”
President Joe Biden has said that, “Democracy—government of the people, by the people, and for the people—is humanity’s most enduring means to advance peace, prosperity, and security. It is how we best safeguard the universal human rights, fundamental freedoms, and dignity that belong to every person.”
“No democracy is perfect, and no democracy is ever final. Every gain made, every barrier broken, is the result of determined, unceasing work,” said President Biden. “On this International Day of Democracy, we recommit to doing the hard work that is necessary to ensure that democracies continue to lead the world with our values and shape a future that is built on respect for the human rights of all people.”