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PRESS RELEASE
ODIHR Director Link, on International Day of Democracy, stresses central role of civil society in promoting democracy and human rights

WARSAW, 15 September 2015 – It is vital that states create an environment that enables the work of civil society actors and promote civil society’s essential role in promoting democratic values, Michael Georg Link, Director of the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR), said on the occasion of today’s International Day of Democracy.

All 57 OSCE participating States have recognized that both individuals and associations must be able to exercise their rights and be involved in important public decision-making processes, he added, stressing that a strong and independent civil society is an important element of democracy.

“In many countries in the OSCE area, civil society faces an uphill battle – the voices of civil society actors are not heard or those actors are discredited; in some cases, they are persecuted,” said Director Link. “This goes against key OSCE commitments on freedom of association and expression, and on the promotion of democracy and human rights. Rather than exclude civil society from public processes, states should recognize them as natural partners in the establishment of true, participatory and inclusive democracies.”

Participating States have committed to ensuring that human rights defenders, individually or in associations, can actively contribute to the protection and promotion of human rights and fundamental freedoms.

“As a channel for public opinion, civil society is a necessary independent counterbalance to the state, even if it expresses views that are unpopular,” Director Link said. “A strong, influential and vibrant civil society is a litmus test for all functioning democracies.”

For PDF attachments or links to sources of further information, please visit: http://www.osce.org/

Contacts:

Thomas Rymer, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
Ul. Miodowa 10
00-251 Warsaw
Poland
office: +48 22 520 06 40
mobile: +48 609 522 266
fax: +48 22 520 06 05
thomas.rymer@odihr.pl

Public Affairs Unit, OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights
Ul. Miodowa 10
00-251 Warsaw
Poland
office: +48 22 520 06 00
fax: +48 22 520 06 05
PublicAffairs@odihr.pl