Sweden, represented by Mr Robert Rydberg, State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and Ambassador Niklas Kebbon, Head of Department for International Law, Human Rights and Treaty Law, handed over the Chairship of International IDEA to the Australian Ambassador to Sweden, Mr Bernard Philip, at the Council of Member States meeting held on 1 December 2020.
Ambassador Philip congratulated Sweden on its successful Chairship in 2020 and highlighted the importance of supporting democracy in the challenging environment it faces and the vital role that International IDEA can play in this regard. Australia is a founding member of the Institute and hosts its Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific located in Canberra. The Regional Programme for Asia and the Pacific is a hub for International IDEA’s work efforts to support and defend democracy in the very diverse societies in the region.
In 2020, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Australia, Senator Marise Payne, took part in a high-level panel discussion about Democracy in the Times of Corona: Experiences of Australia, the Republic of Korea and Sweden, chaired by International IDEA’s Secretary-General, Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora. The webinar and its report zoomed in on the pandemic’s consequences for democracy worldwide using the case studies of Australia, the Republic of Korea and Sweden.
Ambassador Philip’s video message to the International IDEA’s 25th Anniversary on 19-20 November emphasized a range of key issues for the Institute’s work and noted that: “Supporting gender equality and women’s empowerment is vital to strengthening democracy”. The Australian Chairship aims to work closely with the Member States, including the Vice-Chairs Germany and Barbados, to support International IDEA’s efforts in 2021, including its work with governmental partners such as civil society and media in their efforts to strengthen democracy. Australia aims to strengthen the collaboration and learning between the Asia and the Pacific region and other regions where the Institute works but also encourage Member States to protect and enhance their own democracies.