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Following is the text of UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ video message for the International Day of Democracy, observed on 15 September:

Today marks the fifteenth anniversary of the International Day of Democracy.  Yet across the world, democracy is backsliding.  Civic space is shrinking.  Distrust and disinformation are growing.  And polarization is undermining democratic institutions.

Now is the time to raise the alarm.  Now is the time to reaffirm that democracy, development, and human rights are interdependent and mutually reinforcing.  Now is the time to stand up for the democratic principles of equality, inclusion, and solidarity.  And stand with those who strive to secure the rule of law and promote the full participation in decision-making.

This year, we focus on a cornerstone of democratic societies — free, independent, and pluralistic media.  Attempts to silence journalists are growing more brazen by the day — from verbal assault to online surveillance and legal harassment — especially against women journalists.

Media workers face censorship, detention, physical violence, and even killings — often with impunity.  Such dark paths inevitably lead to instability, injustice and worse.

Without a free press, democracy cannot survive.  Without freedom of expression, there is no freedom.  On Democracy Day and every day, let us join forces to secure freedom and protect the rights of all people, everywhere.  Thank you.

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