Speech/statement | Date: 28/11/2017 | Ministry of Foreign Affairs
By Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide (Oslo, 28. november)
Minister of Foreign Affairs Ine Eriksen Søreide's address when the Oslo Center and the International IDEA together organised the Norwegian launch of the report «The Global State of Democracy – Exploring Democracy’s Resilience».
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Excellences, ladies and gentlemen.
Let me start by sincerely thanking International IDEA and Secretary General Yves Leterme for preparing The Global State of Democracy-report, and for the invitation to give my remarks.
I also want to thank the Oslo Centre and President Kjell Magne Bondevik for hosting the presentation in Norway.
This report should be mandatory reading for politicians everywhere.
We need reminders like this. It reminds us how far democratisation has come and the values we all have a responsibility to protect.
As the report clearly states, there are good news.
More people live in electoral democracies today than ever before. Women's political representation has increased significantly. Our access to information is better than past generations could even dream of.
The bad news is that both history and current events clearly shows that a stable democracy is nothing we can take for granted.
We live in a time where liberal democracy and international world order is under pressure.
Extremism, violent conflict, authoritarian regimes and growing polarisation are real threats in countries throughout the world.
Lack of democracy, lack of respect for the rights of the individual and the rights of minorities, are drivers of many of the crises unfolding before us.
For decades we assumed that when democracy had arrived, it was here to stay.
But we know from experience that democratisation is not a linear process. Even countries that was once solid democracies can slip back. This is why robust democratic institutions – and checks and balances - are so important.
The separation of powers is one of the ground rules of democracy – its absence poses a potential risk of abuse of power. Rule of law and respect for the rights of minorities are at stake without an independent judiciary.
Challenges to democracy are not confined to distant parts of the world. The setbacks we see in our own immediate neighbourhood are also of concern.
If left unopposed nationalism and authoritarian populism can undermine democracy from within.
We cannot afford to let this happen.
The way a government treats civil society organisations and minorities can tell us a lot about the condition of the country's democracy.
Civil society are catalysts for change and development. They also play a vital role in holding governments to account.
Governments who fear civil society often do so because they do not wish to be transparent and accountable to its citizens.
Support for independent civil society is vital for a healthy democracy.
I also want to mention our cooperation with the Community of Democracies as an example of Norwegian support to building sound democracies worldwide.
Norway is a member and the current chair of the Community's Executive Committee.
Our aim is to develop the Community of Democracies further as an arena where consolidated democracies and states undergoing democratic transition can work together to promote, protect and preserve sustainable democracy.
The world is volatile. Sometimes it seems like the only constant is change.
Some things, however, should never change.
Among them are respect for democracy, human rights and rule of law.
International IDEA is an important provider of both knowledge and support for countries going through democratic transitions.
Norway is a strong supporter and long-time donor of core support to International IDEA. We even provided a secretary general – my excellent colleague Vidar Helgesen – from 2006-13! We share your conviction that building sound democracies is a necessary investment in the future.
Thank you, International IDEA, for your contribution to the preservation and promotion of democratic values.