KAMPALA – In September 1997, the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) adopted a universal declaration which glues to the principles of democracy. The international convention on new and restored democracies (ICNRD) got to the tunnel’s light in 1988 under the initiative of Philippines president Corazon C Aquino subsequent to the normatively sloganeered “people power revolution” ousting the two-decade despotism of Ferdinand Marcos.
In 2006, following up the outcome of the 6th ICNRD conference in Doha, Qatar, during the adoption of the international day of democracy on 8th November 2007, a resolution was passed entitled “support by the United Nations system of efforts of governments to promote and consolidate new or restored democracies. The resolution was preambled to affirm thus “while democracies share common features, there is no single model of democracy and that democracy doesn’t belong to any country or region”. But is a universal value based on inalienable freely expressed will of people to factor their own political, economic, social and cultural systems and their full participation in all aspects.
“Democracy under strain” seeks to address the challenges of democracy in moulding and sculpting remedies to a revolutionalising world that has seashore numbered tints of norm and mindset combining pre-traditional, traditional, post-traditional and the wave of modernised mind blowings that speak contrary to the whispers of the bush.
Factual to thumb is that democracy has changed wheel and rim before the pre-nuntia era that had the mythological period of which nobody holds belief but anxiety, to the Mesopotamian sumerians, to the Greek Athenian and Spartan civilisations and other ancient dynasties and empires, to the medieval ages or near the immediate AD age by the Roman assimilation. Not forgetting the recent magna Carta in 1215, to the French revolution that guillotined the bourbon monopoly. The recent history of the strain on democracy was the US Constitution of 1789, which, even though a praised masterpiece on human rights, alienated the feminine and slave suffrage rights not until it came under strain due to the civil rights movements that consonated to a changing world and made it a universal right not margined by gender and race.
The above bumpy history of democracy shows that it is a millennial idea that has had a strain due to changing world and has had to change to address the societal needs rather than society having to bend to democracy as human behavior changes in seeking redress to systems that lacked oversight by past reigns.
In my opinion, some factors putting a strain on democracy are: Technology and education have played an indispensable role in switching the mindset of people since it tables diverse cultures especially via social media and research which calls for constitutional mutilation to a befitting DNA. This leads us to another factor called regional integrations and global union: these advocated for harmonised laws which in so doing strain democracy to attempt the question created by these economic and political amalgamations in bid to be a black Smith in smelting an iron basket that contains the global village. The switch from monarchism to elected democracy also puts a positive strain on democracy to address all loopholes in elective democracy which we are embracing with growing experience.
I suggest that global democracies adopt counter policies of which I propose: increasing the space for civil society that is currently shrinking, such unlimited engagement gives these organizations an oversight on future trend of norms and how democracy can equate the question of life to the answer of law.
The youth should be engaged in democracy: whereas the aging(old) are mainly confused by change and with an inertia to provoke it, the growing (youth) are affected and curious to embrace it. With the reality that change is infinite, it should be embraced if positive with relevant laws. This can be addressed by those willing to embrace it that is the youth rather than those in and past the quadragenarian age space. It is a cliché to connect the youth to the future and disconnecting them from the present which actually connects to the future. Even though day(light) comes after night(darkness) or vice versa, none of the two comes suddenly: one leaves quietly in the presence of slow appearance of the other.
Lastly, Parliamentary oversight should be improved through increased social engagement for effective and sustainable culture of constitutional democracy towards making updated, harmonised and coherent laws.
The laws we have are good enough for the ancient generations and not suitable for the current generations since we are living in a changing world and yet legislating on the ideological arena of historical dispensations. Global Democracy shouldn’t be recycled from ill working scrap of rules but from a resource that redefines the past and addresses current and future.
Democracy under strain is an indicator of a civil crisis subject to data and statistics, less measurable but no less profound is a sapping confidence due to its quotidian suffocation to breathe the changing elements of oxygen that differs from the past. Inevitable is that the future generations guided by the present generation shouldn’t lower their sights. Democracy under strain: let our laws address current situations and seek to address the future instead of entirely exemplifying the past.
The writer, Kansiime Onesmus is a Team Leader Writers’ Hub 256