Back to overview

Celebrating the Legacy of the Founding Secretary-General Bengt Säve-Söderbergh

April 24, 2024 • By Cecilia Walles
Bengt Säve-Söderbergh, founding Secretary-General of International IDEA

Serving as the founding Secretary-General of International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, Bengt Säve-Söderbergh played a key role in establishing International IDEA in February 1995. During his tenure as the first Secretary-General from 1995-2002, he positioned the Institute at the forefront of electoral assistance, gender equality, and democracy support.

Säve-Söderbergh's dedication to the promotion of democracy has left an indelible mark on the global stage. Leading with courage, determination and compassion, he transformed the vision of a global hub for democracies into a thriving reality. By seizing a critical moment in history, Säve-Söderbergh laid the building blocks of what International IDEA has become decades later – a vibrant intergovernmental organization of 35 Member States and with a growing portfolio of work on fundamental issues to democracy. 

On 23 April 2024, the Chair of the Council of Member States Luxembourg, Chair of the Board of Advisers Christian Leffler, the Swedish Ambassador for Human Rights, Democracy and the Rule of Law Irina Schoulgin-Nyoni and International IDEA Staff Members came together at the Institute’s Headquarters in Stockholm to recognize and celebrate Säve-Söderbergh's lifetime of contributions to democracy. 

The Secretary-General, Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora, commended Säve-Söderbergh's service to democracy: "He has achieved much for the benefit of humanity. In International IDEA, he has built something that has stood the test of time, that is more valuable now than when he conceived it, and whose brightest days lay still ahead. Very few people can point to such a legacy. For the rest of us, who are striving to build upon that legacy, it is hard enough to be worthy of it."

Bengt Säve-Söderbergh’s legacy is one of deep passion and unwavering commitment to democratic ideals. This legacy continues to inspire and guide the Institute and its Staff Members across the globe in the mission to advance, promote and protect sustainable democracy. 

About the authors

Cecilia Walles
Cecilia Walles
Intern at the Secretary-General’s Office
Close tooltip