For immediate release
15 September 2020, Suva, Fiji – As we commemorate International Day of Democracy today, we are reminded of some essential elements of true democracy which is people centered and respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms exist.
The Citizens’ Constitutional Forum (CCF) firmly believes whilst that statement holds accurate; democracy, rule of law, and independent institutions are also essential for the enjoyment and upholding of human rights and fundamental freedoms.
CCF through its current project titled; “Towards an inclusive, participatory and accountable democracy”, strives to work with both communities and government to create an environment for the protection and realisation of basic human rights.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) states in Article 21(1) that: “Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country, directly or through meaningful, active and significant participation in the democratic processes.” Democratic processes may not be known by or familiar to all citizens in Fiji hence to encourage participation, CCF emphasizes that the state must do its best to keep citizens educated and informed on the mechanisms available. It is important that citizens are educated, informed and supported to effectively engage in these processes. True democracy is founded on people driven policies.
CCF through its work also encourages the concept of active citizenry. Citizens must take the opportunity to engage in the democratic processes at different levels and in different ways. People have the opportunity to exercise their rights and responsibilities to engage in democratic processes. This includes at the very minimum, informing yourself about the issues of national interest, being aware of policies that affect citizens, casting your vote at the general elections and raising concerns or making recommendations to respective ministries.
Active citizenry and public participation helps build strong democratic parliaments which contribute further to ensuring peace, development and respect for human rights.
An important principle of governance is when public participates in any form of democratic process. It is based on the confidence that everyone who is affected by a policy decision has the right and opportunity to be informed and involved in the decision making process, notably at various levels. For meaningful participation to be effective there also needs to be space for civil society to actively operate whilst advocating for good governance and accountability at all levels.
As we commemorate International Day of Democracy today, CCF calls for good governance practices and accountability that will enable responsible and responsive governments and institutions to make decisions that are rights based, inclusive and effective. CCF wishes to remind the state of its obligation to not leave anyone behind in terms of creating opportunities for citizen engagement as this is a strong foundation for effective policy making processes.
Sylvester Racule at email@example.com