UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has urged all governments to respect the right to active, substantive and meaningful participation.
"I salute all of you who strive tirelessly to make this happen," he said in a message marking the International Democracy Day on Sunday.
At heart, democracy is about people, said the UN chief adding that it is built on inclusion, equal treatment and participation - and it is a fundamental building block for peace, sustainable development and human rights.
“These values and aspirations cannot be seen as tokens or lip service. They must be real in people’s lives,” he said.
Yet, the UN chief said, the International Day of Democracy takes place at a time when trust is low and anxiety is high.
“People are frustrated by growing inequalities and unsettled by sweeping changes from globalisation and technology,” he said.
They see conflicts going unresolved, a climate emergency going unanswered, injustice going unaddressed, and civic space shrinking, said the UN chief.