OTTAWA, Canada – Democracy is a universal aspiration and an enabler of sustainable development. As Member States of International IDEA, we are stewards of this conviction and heirs to the historic transformation of the past century, which turned democratic government into the global norm, thus enhancing development, human rights, peace and security.
Democratic aspirations and the promise of freedom remain undiminished among people around the world. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled some governments to undermine assertive parliaments, independent judiciaries, free media, and vigorous civil societies, thus weakening the rule of law, open debate and civic engagement. Even before the pandemic, authoritarianism, disinformation and political polarization were growing. All this has been happening while humanity faces the climate crisis, which will place all nations under extraordinary stress.
The challenges to democracy are multi-fold and far-reaching. Moreover, they are not confined to a given region or any specific type of democracy. They are global in nature and, therefore, call for a global response.
We express our support for global and regional multilateral efforts to protect and advance democracy, as well as national initiatives to strengthen states’ own adherence to democratic principles. Therefore, democratic practice should be the cornerstone of global decision-making processes. We further express our support for the upcoming Summit for Democracy.
We regard democracy as the best political system to realize the aspirations for freedom, equality, dignity, development, peace and security enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We restate our unwavering commitment to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 16 on peace, justice, and strong institutions, with the conviction that democracy built on human rights and the rule of law is pivotal to achieving the 2030 Agenda. Thriving democracies deliver both for their own citizens and for the broad international community.
Democracy needs continuous reflection, critical debate and competent, independent and impartial institutions, able to adjust as societies change and evolve, while respecting core democratic principles. Based on these convictions and in light of current challenges for democracy, we, the members of International IDEA, commit to:
- Investing in the quality of public institutions, enhancing state capacities to deliver public goods and services to their population, and combatting corruption in order to contribute to inclusive and accountable post-pandemic recovery.
- Strengthening the rule of law through independent, impartial and competent people-centered judiciaries, checks and balances, respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms, particularly freedoms of the press, expression and assembly.
- Promoting independent democratic institutions, especially the pluralism of party systems and political voices, the integrity and legitimacy of elections, and informed political debates free from disinformation, including in digital spaces and online platforms.
- Embracing democratic practices, by exploring institutional innovations, highlighting local solutions, supporting civic actors, free and independent media and human rights defenders, and including more young people, women and disadvantaged groups in the political process.
- Building new equitable, inclusive, transparent and sustainable social contracts, and advancing gender and racial equality, so that human rights are enjoyed by all, no one is left behind and trust is strengthened.
Now, more than ever, democracy needs a robust democratic governance agenda at the centre of foreign and development policies. It is particularly urgent to lend support to governments in highly vulnerable countries and especially those at risk of being destabilized by the pandemic and other global challenges.
This is an endeavor that summons us all. As a group of democratic nations, we reiterate our commitment to join forces and advance democracy in our own countries and globally.
We stand ready to support International IDEA’s efforts to work with democratic actors including parliaments, electoral authorities, political parties, independent media and civil society groups around the world. We invite others to join us in this cause.
Signed: Australia, Barbados, Belgium, Botswana, Brazil, Canada, Cape Verde, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Finland, Germany, India, Indonesia, Luxembourg, Mexico, Mongolia, Namibia, Netherlands, Norway, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tunisia, and Uruguay
The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance
The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA) is an intergovernmental organization with 33 Member States with the sole mandate to support and advance democracy worldwide. International IDEA contributes to the public debate on democracy and assists in strengthening processes, reforms, institutions and actors that build, advance and safeguard democracy, with a focus on electoral processes; constitution-building processes; and political participation and representation. Mainstreamed across all of our work is gender and inclusion, conflict sensitivity and sustainable development.