Ban Ki-moon: Democracy Vital in Spurring Development and the Achievement of Human Rights

Democratic governance both reinforces and is bolstered by development and human rights, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon underscored in a message to a high-level event drawing thousands of representatives of both governments and non-governmental organizations.

“Democracy is both an end in itself and a means to empowering women, giving voice to civil society and achieving the Millennium Development Goals [MDGs],” the eight anti-poverty targets with a 2015 deadline, Mr. Ban said in his message to the European Development Days, being held this year in Stockholm, Sweden.

The three-day event, with expects to draw 5,000 participants, will hear from over 200 speakers, including Helen Clark, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP); Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) Executive Director; and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia.

In addition to democratic governance, this year’s Days, which kicked off today, will also focus on climate change and the global recession.

Last month, the Secretary-General convened the largest high-level summit ever on the issue of climate change, ending with a call for a comprehensive pact expected to be reached in Copenhagen, Denmark, in December. The more than 100 heads of State and government who attended also stressed the need to boost action to help the world’s most vulnerable and poorest adapt to global warming, as well as the importance of industrialized countries agreeing on ambitious emissions reduction targets.

“But there is important work ahead and much at stake,” he said in his message to the event, which was organized by the European Commission and the presidency of the European Union (EU). “Let us maintain the momentum in these vital days running up to Copenhagen.”

On the economic crisis, Mr. Ban said that with the world’s poorest hurt most by most by the downturn, with “common sense” investments towards meeting the MDGs – in areas such as fighting AIDS and tuberculosis – have resulted in progress.

“These gains also suggest what can be done in areas where progress still lags behind, most notably maternal health,” he added.

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