The 2023 World Humanist Congress, gathered in Copenhagen, adopted the following Declaration on Democracy: a humanist value:
Humans are social animals, formed by evolution and culture to live together with others in society.
For society to function, it needs norms, laws and regulations. As society changes, these need always to be open to challenge and updating as the result of an ongoing ethical conversation and rational debate.
Democracy, which is founded on the principle of the equal value, dignity, and right to participate of every individual, is a humanist way of organizing that conversation and debate.
As humanists, we maintain that democracy should be a fundamental value upheld and protected by all societies and governments. Everyone should be heard with equal dignity and respect, and the democratic process provides a framework for ensuring that this principle is upheld in practice. It guarantees that there can be no legitimate government anywhere without the fully informed consent and participation of those being governed.
Democracy is not just a political process. With its emphasis on equality and participation, democracy is a powerful tool for the realization of social justice, human dignity, and the common good.
Democracy is not a static situation. It is a dynamic process that requires constant engagement, informed participation, and adjustment.
Democracy is not the tyranny of the majority. It must go together with human rights protections, the rule of law, and a commitment to social progress.
In light of these principles, we affirm the following:
Democracy is a universal fundamental value that is essential to the realization of humanist principles worldwide.
Democracy must be broadly inclusive, transparent, accountable, and secular, with institutions and practices that are responsive to the changing needs and aspirations of citizens.
Citizens must be empowered and the right to exercise citizenship must be protected without prejudice.
Democracy as a culture must be actively defended against all threats, including those from regimes, movements and political parties that embrace authoritarian principles, from those with unaccountable economic and social power, and from all other forces that seek to undermine democratic values and institutions.
We commit ourselves to working for a more democratic world.
We call on all governments, institutions, and individuals to uphold and protect democratic values as a cornerstone of human dignity, justice, and freedom.
We call on all humanists around the world to stand in solidarity with those who are struggling to defend and promote democracy, and to work together to build a world in which democracy flourishes and the dignity and rights of all people are protected.
General Assembly Resolution on Democracy
The General Assembly of Humanists International noted the Declaration of the 2023 World Humanist Congress on Democracy: a humanist value and made this resolution:
This General Assembly notes that democracy faces many challenges globally. These challenges include the rise of authoritarianism, the suppression of human rights and civil liberties, the proliferation of disinformation and misinformation, the weakening of democratic institutions, the continued harassment of and intimidation of civil society activists, NGOs, and others working for human rights, civil engagement, and environmental sustainability, and the exacerbation of social and economic inequalities.
We call on humanist organizations to play their part in confronting these threats to democracy of today in whatever ways they can. We should all consider meaningful ways to advance democracy and democratic values in our current context, to act in the best interests not just of people today but for future generations, for whom democracy should be an inheritance.