Speech by State Secretary Modéer, Global State of Democracy, IDEA
15 November, 2017.
Check against delivery.
Mr. Secretary General, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Allow me, on behalf of my Government, begin by congratulating the team at International IDEA, to a job very well done.
For us working with international development cooperation on a daily basis, this is a much welcome addition to the toolbox of strengthening democratic governance.
The Global State of Democracy will help us gain a deeper understanding of the different contexts and challenges that democracies are facing today.
It will help us to make well-considered decisions and to tweak our efforts to be better suited to their purpose.
The timing could not have been better. As the world changes, so does the challenges presented to democracy, and our need to understand them - today probably more than ever before.
It’s not only our moral obligation but also in our vital interest to support democratic development around the world.
Democracy is a precondition for economic and social development and closely linked to the Global Goals of the Agenda 2030, and in particular, Development Goal 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions.
Sweden’s democracy support seeks to pave the way for people to assert and actively exercise their civil and political rights and thus increase influence over the conditions and societies in which they live.
To achieve that we support a range of different actors working with democracy on the global arena, from the United Nations and the European Union, to international organisations and networks, such as IDEA.
Supporting and defending a wide range of civil society organisations is also a priority for Sweden.
Unfortunately, growing difficulties for pro-democracy activities, human rights defenders and a shrinking space for civil society in many countries is making our mission ever more relevant.
The global clampdown on civil society has deepened and accelerated in recent years.
It is not a coincidence that over a hundred governments have introduced restrictive laws limiting the operations of civil society organisations.
As an example, since 2012, more than 120 laws constraining the freedoms of association or assembly have been proposed or enacted in 60 countries.
They have realized, just as much as we, the potential of a vibrant and free civil society as drivers of change in terms of strengthening democracy and people’s participation.
They are scared to be held accountable. To be scrutinised. They are scared to be judged on the basis of their ability to provide equal opportunities and rights to all people.
Most of all, they are scared to lose power.
In a world where facts are secondary to opinion, a free and independent media is becoming increasingly important, especially to counter disinformation.
Free, impartial information is crucial to everybody’s ability to develop informed opinions on diﬀerent issues and take an active part in political life.
Fact-checking and countering disinformation to protect democratic principles and norms will become more important going forward.
Sweden’s support for independent media, exchanges and training for journalists will continue. We also have to take measures to inform our citizens on the importance of this issue.
If we want to remain relevant and effective in our democracy support we need to develop new strategies and work more closely together, in partnerships, networks and informal constellations.
Your presences here today contribute to that end as you have gathered to talk about democracy - challenges, opportunities and the way forward.
There is a need for donors to adapt aid tools and methods to a new reality. Hopefully we can benefit from your discussions going forward.
With the ambition to focus our efforts to this end I can also inform you that we are currently drafting a comprehensive strategy on Swedish support to protect and promote human rights, democracy and the rule of law.
What the current situation shows us is, I believe, that the benefits of democracy should not be taken for granted. That is why it is especially pleasing to note that there are young persons also in the audience today. Your views and opinions on democracy and what it means are vital! Take the opportunity and engage today!