International Day of Democracy

the International Day of Democracy takes place annually on 15 September, with the purpose of raising public awareness about democracy and promoting and upholding the principles of democracy. It was created in September 1997 after the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) adopted a Universal Declaration on Democracy. That Declaration affirms the principles of democracy, the elements and exercise of democratic government, and the international scope of democracy.

The international conferences on new and restored democracies (ICNRD process) also began in 1988 under the initiative of President Corazon C. Aquino of the Philippines after the so-called peaceful “People Power Revolution” overthrew the 20-year dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos. Initially an inter-governmental forum, the ICNRD process developed into a tripartite structure with participation of governments, parliaments and civil society. The sixth conference (ICNRD-6) that took place in Doha, Qatar, in 2006 reinforced the tripartite nature of the process and concluded with a declaration and Plan of Action which reaffirmed the fundamental principles and values of democracy.

Following up on the outcome of ICNRD-6, an advisory board set up by the chair of the process – Qatar – decided to promote an International Day of Democracy. Qatar took the lead in drafting the text of a United Nations General Assembly resolution and convened consultations with UN member states. At the suggestion of the IPU, 15 September (date of the Universal Declaration on Democracy) was chosen as the day when the international community would celebrate each year the International Day of Democracy. The resolution entitled “Support by the United Nations system of efforts of Governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies”, was adopted by consensus on 8 November 2007.  The IPU urged parliaments to celebrate the International Day of Democracy through some form of special activity, to be held on or as close to 15 September as possible depending on circumstances As an opportunity for parliaments to:

  • Emphasize the importance of democracy, what it involves, the challenges it faces as well as the opportunities it offers, and the central responsibility that all parliaments have as the key institution of democracy;
  • Examine and discuss how well parliament performs its democratic functions, possibly on the basis of a self-assessment, and identify what steps it may take to strengthen its effectiveness.
  • To mark the first International Day of Democracy on 15 September 2008, the IPU will hold a special event at the House of Parliaments in Geneva. National parliaments are invited to organize their own democracy-related activities on that day to highlight the role of parliament as the cornerstone of democracy.

In 2013, IPU promoted the International Day of Democracy through its Member Parliaments in 162 countries around the world. As a result, a number of parliaments from all over the globe announced their events to be held on or close to 15 September. The theme for 2013 was “Strengthening Voices for Democracy” and IPU launched an online contest to hear and gather stories from local democracy champions that managed to make their voices heard. These stories were to inspire people to take action in their own community.

In 2014 The theme for the International Day of Democracy Was “Engaging youth on democracy”. During this event theIPU urged action and changes in mindset if disillusioned and alienated youth the world over are to be engaged in political decision-making. The IPU President Abdelwahad Radi stated “It is a cliché to always link youth to the future. Young people not only have the power to define the future, but also decide on the present. However, they are largely absent from formal decision-making politics and this has to change.”

The IPU stated that youth participation had a special meaning for it and that a programme to promote young men and women’s involvement in the democratic process is getting underway, in follow-up to the resolution adopted by the IPU Assembly in 2010. The IPU announced it would organize the first Global Conference of Young Parliamentarians on 10 and 11 October 2014 and all parliaments were invited to attend. A photo contest titled “Engage for Change” is also held, encouraging youth to show what action they would take to bring about positive change in society by sending a photo that shows them working for positive change in their community, region, country or the world. The theme for The International Day of Democracy 2015 was: Space for Civil Society.

Battle of Britain Day

Battle of Britain Day is celebrated annually on 15 September to commemorate the large-scale aerial battle of the same name, which took place on 15 September 1940, (German: Luftschlacht um England or Luftschlacht um Großbritannien). In Canada, the commemoration takes place on the third Sunday of September.

Nazi Germany had conquered most of Western Europe and Scandinavia by June 1940 and the only major power standing in the way of a German-dominated Europe was the British Empire and the Commonwealth. After having several peace offers rejected by the British, Adolf Hitler ordered the Luftwaffe to destroy the Royal Air Force (RAF) in order to gain air superiority or air supremacy as a prelude to launching Operation Sea Lion, an amphibious assault by the Wehrmacht (German armed forces) onto the British mainland.

So during July 1940, the Luftwaffe started attacking Merchant Shipping on the English Channel. On 10 July 1940, the first Luftwaffe bomber fleets began attacking convoys and Royal Navy forces in English ports and Channel. The results were positive and the Germans succeeded in forcing the British to abandon the channel convoy route and to redirect shipping to ports in north-eastern Britain. With this achieved the Luftwaffe began the second phase of its air offensive, attacking RAF airfields and supporting structures on the British mainland. The codename of the offensive was Unternehmen Adlerangriff (“Operation Eagle Attack”). On 12 August, it flew its first missions in this regard. On 13 August, the Luftwaffe carried out its largest attack to date on the mainland. Christened Adlertag (“Eagle Day”), the attack was a failure. Nevertheless, the raids continued, at great cost to both sides. The impact of the German offensive on RAF airfields and Fighter Command is disputed. Some historians believe that the attacks were not having much effect and that the Germans were losing the attrition battle, while others believe the RAF was faltering.

However Hitler was dissatisfied with the progress being made. Prompted by an RAF raid on Berlin in late August 1940, he ordered the Luftwaffe to concentrate its attacks upon London. It was thought the move would draw RAF Fighter Command up into a large, decisive battle. Initially, the change in strategy caught the British off-guard. The first daylight attack of this type occurred on 7 September and caused extensive damage and civilian casualties. Some 107,400 long tons (109,100 t) of shipping was damaged in the Thames Estuary and 1,600 civilians were killed or injured. Hitler was dissatisfied with the Luftwaffe and its failure to destroy Fighter Command quickly. He dismissed over-optimistic reports from the Oberkommando der Luftwaffe (OKL or High Command of the Air Force), particularly the Chief of the Luftwaffe general staff Hans Jeschonnek, who asserted the RAF was on its last legs. Confident the RAF was nearly defeated, Jeschonnek requested terror bombing to be enacted as a final blow. Hitler refused, and only allowed attacks on industry, communications and public utility targets.

Over the next few days, bad weather prevented more large attacks. On 9 and 11 September, only smaller raids were carried out. It gave Hugh Dowding AOC (Air Officer Commanding) Fighter Command, the chance to prepare and reinforce his forces. The British, possibly through the use of Ultra intelligence, recognised the German change in strategy and duly prepared for further attacks on the capital although The intelligence from ULTRA at this stage in the war tended to be fragmented.

In August, Operation Adlerangriff (Eagle Attack) was launched against RAF airfields in southern England. By the first week of September, the Luftwaffe had not gained the results desired by Hitler. Frustrated, the Germans turned towards the strategic bombing of cities, an offensive which was aimed at British military and civil industries, but also civilian morale. The attacks began on 7 September 1940, but were to reach their daylight climax on 15 September 1940 when the Luftwaffe launched its largest and most concentrated attack against London in the hope of drawing out the RAF into a battle of annihilation. Around 1,500 aircraft took part in the air battles which lasted until dusk. The action was the climax of the Battle of Britain.nRAF Fighter Command defeated the German raids. The Luftwaffe formations were dispersed by a large cloud base and failed to inflict severe damage on the city of London. In the aftermath of the raid, Hitler postponed Operation Sea Lion. Having been defeated in daylight, the Luftwaffe turned its attention to The Blitz night campaign which lasted until May 1941.