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Create space for Civil Society in Democracy

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  4 Oct 2015 12:00 AM GMT

By Ranjan K Baruah

Being the largest democracy in the world, it has been important in India. Democracy is a form of government in which power ultimately comes from the people who are governed, whether through direct voting or through elected representatives. Democracy provides an environment for the protection and effective realization of human rights. It 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.

The link between democracy and human rights is captured in article 21(3) of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: "The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures".

The spread of democracy around the world is one of the most significant achievements of our times. Elections in different countries and in different organisation are positive steps. It was not familiar a century ago. But now we could see elections being held in most of the part of the world. General elections in Bhutan in recent times are another achievement of democracy which did not happen in the past. In case of India, we have seen how elections are being held. Though there are some people who try to misuse the system but in democracy everyone has right and the participation of people is making it more vibrant in India.

United tions activities in support of democracy and governce are carried out through the United tions Development Programme (UNDP), the United tions Democracy Fund (UNDEF), the Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO), the Department of Political Affairs (DPA), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), and the United tions Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN Women), among others. Such activities are inseparable from the UN's work in promoting human rights, development, and peace and security, and include: assisting parliaments to enhance the checks and balances that allow democracy to thrive; helping to strengthen the impartiality and effectiveness of tiol human rights institutions and justice and security systems; helping to develop legislation and media capacities to ensure freedom of expression and access to information; assisting to develop policies and legislation to guarantee the right to freedom of association and of peaceful assembly; providing electoral assistance and long-term support for electoral magement bodies; promoting women's participation in political and public life.

Civil society plays a crucial role in democracy and has never been more important than this year, as the world prepares to implement a new development agenda, agreed to by all the world's Governments. However, for civil society activists and organizations in a range of countries covering every continent, space is shrinking - or even closing - as some Governments have adopted restrictions that limit the ability of NGOs to work or to receive funding. In recent years some Indian NGOs are also facing problem which receives grants and support from foreign agencies under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act.

It's our time that we promote democracy or democratic governce for a better world. In 2011, UNDP helped more than 130 countries and devoted US$1.5 billion in resources to democratic governce, making UNDP the world's largest provider of democratic governce assistance. The United tions Democracy Fund (UNDEF) supports projects that strengthen the voice of civil society, promote human rights, and encourage the participation of all groups in democratic processes. It is the only UN entity that has the word "democracy" in its me; the only UN body with the primary purpose of supporting democracy through empowering civil society; and one of the youngest entities in the UN system. Together we can make our democracy more vibrant and lead the world when it comes to democracy and participation. Being a tion of many young people we may work for transparency and accountability and make our democracy as the best functioning model in the world. For doing this government must make sure that they provide space to the civil societies.

There are more possibilities of growth and development where civil society and government work together in many occasion. There must be space for civil society in democracy so that apart from opposition civil society may also help in transparency. Roles of civil society may be limited but it brings vibrancy as it provides information and keeps many citizens active. There must be spaces for civil society and governments must encourage participation of civil society. Creation of space for civil society means bringing more development in a transparent way which leads to inclusive growths and progress. (Feedback may be sent to

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