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Global Democracy and Covid-19: upgrading international support

14 July 2020

New report assesses the impact Covid-19 is having on democracy around the world and makes recommendations for future democracy support

A new report ‘Global Democracy and Covid-19: Upgrading International Support’ highlights how some governments are using the current public health crisis to further curtail democratic activities and provides recommendations to policy-makers and civil society to counter-act the negative impacts of Covid-19 on democracy.

The report is endorsed by 11 pro-democracy institutions, and is aligned with a recent ‘Call to Defend Democracy’ that was signed by almost 100 organisations from across the world, as well as nearly 500 prominent individuals from 119 countries, including 13 Nobel Laureates and 62 former Heads of State or Government.

The reports identifies the threats to democracy as many governments are restricting human rights and fundamental freedoms, such as freedom of assembly and of movement, under the guise of battling the pandemic. It highlights how some governments are interrupting elections, clamping down on political opponents, discriminating against minority and vulnerable groups, censoring media and increasing disinformation and digital surveillance.

The report notes that the pandemic has distinctive political implications across different regimes and it calls for a more practical policy effort to ensure that democratic norms are defended in tailored ways in order to advance and uphold democratic rights.

The report offers five concrete recommendations for how governments and international organisations can respond to the Covid-19 crisis. It advocates: a global monitoring of Covid-19 related democratic infringements; new ways of including democracy efforts into Covid-19 emergency and recovery aid; an enhanced support of democracy civic activism that has emerged during the pandemic; a new multi-lateral initiative to learn lessons from how democracies have copied with the crisis; and an effort to explore the growth in new types of democratic practice that have proliferated under Covid-19.

Commenting on the launch of the report, EED Executive Director, Jerzy Pomianowski, stated: “The Covid-19 pandemic is posing unprecedented challenges to democracy. EED is delighted to be one of the leading supporters of this policy paper, which as well as identifying the challenges faced to democracy during these Covid-19 times, also identifies the ways democracy activists have responded to this crisis. We believe that the recommendations listed in this report offer a way forward to defend democracy during and after the pandemic”

Organisations endorsing the report are: European Endowment for Democracy, International IDEA, The Carter Center, European Partnership for Democracy, European Network of Political Foundations, The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), The International Republican Institute, The National Democratic Institute, The National Endowment for Democracy, The Parliamentary Centre and The Westminster Foundation for Democracy.

The report can be downloaded here.

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