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Webinar on Rising Threats to Democracy and Human Rights

From left: Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora, Secretary-General of International IDEA, Maria Ressa, CEO and President of Rappler, and Jorge Moreira da Silva, Director of the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate.

The Secretary-General of International IDEA, Dr Kevin Casas-Zamora, participated in a CO.OP LAB discussion entitled “Rising Threats to Democracy and Human Rights”, organized by OECD Development Co-operation Directorate on 14 September 2021.

Este artículo está disponible en español.


The Secretary-General was joined by Maria Ressa, the CEO and President of Rappler and recent Nobel Prize Laureate. The Director of the OECD Development Co-operation Directorate, Jorge Moreira da Silva, moderated the discussion aimed at OECD senior staff members.

During his presentation, the Secretary-General provided an overview of the health of democracies based on International IDEA’s forthcoming Global State of Democracy 2021 Report. The Report reveals that both the quantity and quality of democracies have been declining globally. This trend has been further accelerated and amplified by the Covid-19 pandemic as shown by the Global Monitor of Covid-19’s impact on democracy and human rights. Countries that were already ailing in their democratic performance before the pandemic were particularly vulnerable to democratic backsliding. The Secretary-General also highlighted the positive trends observed in the past 18 months, such as the increase in civic activism and the expansion of democratic innovations during elections.

Going forward, the Secretary-General noted that the main challenges to democracy are twofold: On the one hand, democratic communities no longer share a common set of values as illustrated by the ever-more present polarization and rising inequalities. On the other hand, there also seems to be a loss of faith in liberal values, explained by domestic and international factors, which leads to citizens feeling taken for granted and becoming increasingly willing to give up on democracy and move towards authoritarian leaders seemingly offering a solution.

The Secretary-General also offered insights into what could and should be done to defend democracy. According to Casas-Zamora, it is essential to establish a global sense of urgency around the predicament of democracy. That is why International IDEA, together with a coalition of democracy organizations from around the world, launched A Call to Defend Democracy in June 2020. A better and shared understanding of the threats in all their forms and a robust democratic governance agenda are also necessary steps to ensure the ability of democracies to solve problems for people. As a final point, the Secretary-General emphasized the need for adequate funding to ensure that long-term actions to defend and support democracy can be put in place.



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About the authors

Samantha Julien
Intern, Secretary-General’s Office
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