Presentation at the launch of the Global State of Democracy in Lima, Peru, 20 November 2017.
On 20 November, International IDEA Secretary-General Yves Leterme attended the launch of International IDEA’s flagship publication, The Global State of Democracy: Exploring Democracy's Resilience in Lima, Peru, as part of a series of launches aorund the world.
The day opened with an IDEAthon, an interactive and idea-generating group discussion to discuss and find innovative solutions to specific democratic challenges.
Following this, Leterme delivered a key note speech in which he presented the rationale of the Global State of Democracy report and its main findings. He noted that the global state of democracy is not as bleak as is often portrayed, and that substantial gains have been made in the past 40 years. Democracy has proven to be resilient, the political representation of women has doubled in the last twenty years, and ICTs have revolutionized access to information and brought leaders closer to citizens. In Latin America in particular, the Secretary-General stated, an important milestone was also reached through the peace agreement in Colombia.
However, Leterme stressed that, despite these positive trends, democracy faces a number of serious challenges and threats that risk corroding the trust in democracy. These include the phenomenon of “modern democratic backsliding” and a rise in the number of hybrid democracies, the rise of populism and nationalism, the spread of fake news, persisting inequality, and persistent levels of corruption.
These challenges, he noted, “have led many to even question the value of democracy, and cynicism and pessimism seem to have overtaken the public debate.”
In order to tackle these challenges, and turn the tide, the Secretary-General stressed that efforts by all sectors of society are needed. “Democracy,” he concluded, “cannot be taken for granted. And each one of us has a responsibility to build, protect and safeguard it.”
Next, Catalina Uribe Burcher, one of the publication's authors, expanded on some of the findings. She stressed that while global progress has been made in almost all aspects of democracy over the past 40 years, this does not hold for corruption, which persists at the same levels gloablly today as in 1975. This, in turn, exacerbates economic inequality, which stands at a global high, and depresses political participation, especially among young people.
The presentations were followed by a panel discussion, which was moderated by Daniel Zovatto, International IDEA’s Director for Latin America & the Caribbean, and included Andrea Murta, Director of JOTA Business US; Stephan Reith, Director for Latin America in the Department of European and International Cooperation of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation; and Allan Wagner, former Minister of Foreign Relations of Peru.