International Democracy Day 2021

On Wednesday, 15 September 2021, we celebrate the International Day of Democracy, a United Nations observance providing an opportunity to reflect on and review the state of democracy around the world.

Date 2021-09-15 Author BIK Team Section awareness, news Topic media literacy/education Audience children and young people, organisations and industry, parents and carers, teachers, educators and professionals

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, major social and political challenges have risen globally, together with the health emergency. As governments around the world continue to adopt emergency measures to address the crisis, UN Secretary António Guterres urges states to be transparent, responsive, and accountable in their COVID-19 response and ensure that their policies are legal, proportionate, necessary, and non-discriminatory.

Some of the main issues related to the protraction of the pandemic were already highlighted in the policy brief "COVID-19 and Human Rights – We are all in this together" from April 2020. Back then, the UN Secretary-General pointed at threats to the free flow of information, crackdowns on freedom of expression and press freedom, prosecution of political opponents for allegedly spreading "fake news", aggressive cyber-policing and increased online surveillance, and postponement of elections in some countries. Even in 2021, it is still essential that states, in their response to the pandemic, continue to respect and protect, among other rights, freedom of expression and of the press, freedom of information, freedom of association and of assembly.

The pandemic provided once again a clear example of the crisis raised by the question on how to effectively counter harmful speech while preserving freedom of expression, as extensive efforts to eliminate disinformation may result in purposeful or unintentional censorship, thus undermining trust. For this reason, the UN equally highlights the importance of developing media literacy and digital safety skills among society.

If you are interested in exploring the topic further, you can find below just a handful of useful pedagogical resources designed by the Insafe network of European Safer Internet Centres (SICs) which  are freely accessible in the BIK resource gallery:

Additionally, we recommend reading the June 2020 edition of the Better Internet for Kids (BIK) bulletin exploring freedom of expression online in the age of disinformation.

For more information about International Day of Democracy 2021, visit the United Nations' website and follow the celebrations of the day on social media with the hashtag #DemocracyDay.

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