Statement by Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre at the Summit for Democracy

Mr President, Excellencies, Russia’s attack on Ukraine on 24 February 2022 was a watershed moment. It was an attack on the rules-based international order. An assault on democracy and the values that underpin it, human rights and rule of law.

We have condemned Russia’s actions in the strongest possible terms, and provided extensive support to our Ukrainian friends.

Their fight is a legitimate cause. It is of critical importance to the future of the global order.

It is about freedom.

It is about preserving the equal status of small and larger states.

It is about defending the principles of sovereignty and non-interference.

These are universal principles. They concern everyone, and all states.

We take solace in the overwhelming support for the Ukrainians that countries are showing. In the way that democracies – small and large – have recognised the threat and are stepping up to the challenge.

We know that democracies have inherent strengths. It is incumbent on all of us to reinforce these strengths.

Like any organism, democracy needs nurturing.

It needs custodians who believe in the big idea, and are committed to protecting all the elements that are essential for it to thrive:

Rule of law. Human rights. Accountability. Transparency. And inclusiveness.

Dear friends,

We must not be naïve. Freedom is regressing globally. Democracy is under threat, both from within and from outside our own societies.

We need to understand the nature of these threats, and take steps to address them.

To that end, Norway is currently assessing the state of our own democracy. We make an assessment that will be finalised in the autumn.

And we intend to use it to improve our own institutions and strengthen our political processes.

Internationally, we will continue to support democracy and human rights:

To fight for women’s rights and gender equality.

To promote freedom of expression and independent media worldwide.

To combat corruption and illicit financial flows.

And support civil society and those who stand up for democracy under threat.

Civic space is the bedrock of any open and inclusive democracy. Without it, democracy dies.

On this 25th anniversary of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders, let us all reaffirm our commitment to its aims.

As history as shown – time and again – democracy is not a state, it is a process.

We should celebrate, and at the very least protect, all those who participate.

Thank you.