Thursday, February 9, 2023

‘Democracies under threat’: Swiss prez

Swiss President Alain Berset on Tuesday said the number of democracies worldwide has diminished very much and the world is at a tipping point with democratic institutions being weakened.
“In certain places, the rule of law is under threat – even in some democratically constituted states. And the rule of law is also at risk of eroding in the international system,” Berset said in a special address at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 here.
He said the post-war order is currently experiencing its greatest crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine constitutes a brutal attack on a peaceful country.
“But it is also a brutal attack on international law and multilateralism. The war is causing great suffering. And it is playing a decisive role on the global development of democracy,” he said.
He lauded the solidarity shown by democratic countries with Ukraine and rued that the aggression has come, of all countries, from a member of the UN Security Council, which as per the UN Charter: bears “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security”.
Berset said Switzerland will make every effort to again strengthen international law and multilateralism in the UN Security Council.
He also said inequality worldwide has continued to grow and inequality brings with it huge political and social collateral damage.
“What we call populism is essentially a reaction to growing inequality. We all know that: Extreme inequality undermines social cohesion. It creates resentment, causing us to seek scapegoats. And it is politically toxic, eating away at our faith in democracy,” he added.
“The number of democracies worldwide has diminished very much. According to Freedom House, around 50 per cent of the world’s population lived in democracies ten years ago – Today, that figure is just 20 per cent.
“Business as usual is no longer an option: We must take steps to defend steadfastly the foundations, that are a prerequisite for civilised coexistence,” the president said.
“Self-interest and supporting those weaker than ourselves – We have long considered these to be two different things. Now we know: They are one and the same,” Berset said.

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