International Coalition for Democratic Renewal

Covid-19 Crisis Threatens Democracy, Almost 500 Leading World Figures Warn


Intellectuals, political and civil leaders, Nobel Laureates and pro-democracy institutions are warning that the freedoms we cherish are under threat from governments that are using the crisis to tighten their grip on power.

PRAGUE - Democracy is under threat as many governments around the world assemble emergency powers that restrict human rights and enhance state surveillance without regard to legal constraints, parliamentary oversight, or time frames for the restoration of constitution order.

‘’The current pandemic represents a formidable global challenge to democracy.   Authoritarians around the world see the COVID-19 crisis as a new political battleground in their fight to stigmatize democracy as feeble and reverse its dramatic gains of the past few decades,” the letter says.

“A Call for Democracy“ is an open letter coordinated by 70 institutions and organizations and signed by almost 500 political and civil leaders including 13 Nobel laureates and 62 former heads of states or parliaments. Forum 2000 Foundation is one of 17 organizations that initiated the call. Some of the signatories will be guests of Forum 2000 Conference, which will take place in Prague on October 11-13, 2020.

„In the time of the pandemic, we need to be careful. Governments tend to accumulate power in times of crisis and we need to make sure they renounce it, once normalcy returns. Thus, independent information sources and strong civil society are crucial and need to be vigilant and ready to react,“ says Jakub Klepal, Executive Director of the Forum 2000 Foundation.

If you would like to support the letter with your signature, write an email to signupfordemocracy@idea.int.

#defenddemocracy


A Call to Defend Democracy

The COVID-19 pandemic threatens more than the lives and the livelihoods of people throughout the world.  It is also a political crisis that threatens the future of liberal democracy.

Authoritarian regimes, not surprisingly, are using the crisis to silence critics and tighten their political grip.  But even some democratically elected governments are fighting the pandemic by amassing emergency powers that restrict human rights and enhance state surveillance without regard to legal constraints, parliamentary oversight, or timeframes for the restoration of constitutional order.  Parliaments are being sidelined, journalists are being arrested and harassed, minorities are being scapegoated, and the most vulnerable sectors of the population face alarming new dangers as the economic lockdowns ravage the very fabric of societies everywhere.

Repression will not help to control the pandemic.  Silencing free speech, jailing peaceful dissenters, suppressing legislative oversight, and indefinitely canceling elections all do nothing to protect public health.  On the contrary, these assaults on freedom, transparency, and democracy will make it more difficult for societies to respond quickly and effectively to the crisis through both government and civic action. 

It is not a coincidence that the current pandemic began in a country where the free flow of information is stifled and where the government punished those warning about the dangers of the virus -- warnings that were seen as spreading rumors harmful to the prestige of the state.  When voices of responsible citizens are suppressed, the results can be deadly, not for just one country but for the entire world.

Democracy is not just a cherished ideal.  It is the system of government best suited to addressing a crisis of the magnitude and complexity of COVID-19. In contrast to the self-serving claims of authoritarian propaganda, credible and free flows of information, fact-based debate about policy options, the voluntary self-organization of civil society, and open engagement between government and society are all vital assets in combating the pandemic.  And they are all key elements of liberal democracy.

It is only through democracy that societies can build the social trust that enables them to persevere in a crisis, maintain national resilience in the face of hardship, heal deep societal divisions through inclusive participation and dialogue, and retain confidence that sacrifice will be shared and the rights of all citizens respected.

It is only through democracy that independent civil society, including women and young people, can be empowered to partner with public institutions, to assist in the delivery of services, to help citizens stay informed and engaged, and to bolster social morale and a sense of common purpose.

It is only though democracy that free media can play their role of informing people so that they can make sound personal and family decisions, scrutinize government and public institutions, and counter disinformation that seeks to tear societies apart.

It is only through democracy that society can strike a sustainable balance between competing needs and priorities – between combatting the spread of the virus and protecting economic security; and between implementing an effective response to the crisis and protecting people’s civil and political rights in accordance with constitutional norms and guarantees.

It is only in democracies that the rule of law can protect individual liberties from state intrusion and constraint well beyond what is necessary to contain a pandemic.

It is only in democracies that systems of public accountability can monitor and circumscribe emergency government powers, and terminate them when they are no longer needed.

It is only in democracies that government data on the scope and health-impact of the pandemic can be believed.

Democracy does not guarantee competent leadership and effective governance.  While democracies predominate among the countries that have acted most effectively to contain the virus, other democracies have functioned poorly in responding to the pandemic and have paid a very high price in human life and economic security.  Democracies that perform poorly further weaken society and create openings for authoritarians.

But the greatest strength of democracy is its capacity for self-correction.  The COVID-19 crisis is an alarming wake-up call, an urgent warning that the freedoms we cherish are at risk and that we must not take them for granted.  Through democracy, citizens and their elected leaders can learn and grow.  Never has it been more important for them to do that.

The current pandemic represents a formidable global challenge to democracy.   Authoritarians around the world see the COVID-19 crisis as a new political battleground in their fight to stigmatize democracy as feeble and reverse its dramatic gains of the past few decades.  Democracy is under threat, and people who care about it must summon the will, the discipline, and the solidarity to defend it.  At stake are the freedom, health, and dignity of people everywhere.


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Organizations


African Movement for Democracy
African Network of Constitutional Lawyers (ANCL)
Alinaza Universitaria Nicaraguense (AUN)
Al-Kawakibi Democracy Transition Center
Alliance of Democracies Foundation
Asia Democracy Network
Asian Network For Free Elections (ANFREL)
Association Béninoise de Droit Constitutionnel (ABDC)
Association for Participatory Democracy (ADEPT)
Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE)
Coalition for Dialogue in Africa (CODA)
Colectivo Ciudadano Ecuador
Council for Global Equality
Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA)
Democracy International
Democracy Reporting International (DRI)
Democracy Without Borders
European Endowment for Democracy
European Network of Political Foundations (ENoP)
European Partnership for Democracy
Forum 2000 Foundation
Freedom House
Fundación Nuevas Generaciones
Fundación Paraguaya de Cooperación y Desarrollo
Fundación Salvadoreña para el Desarrollo Económico y Social (FUSADES)
Human Rights Campaign
Human Rights House Foundation
Christian Democratic International Center
Institute for Democratic Governance
Instituto Venezolano de Estudios Sociales y Políticos (INVESP)
International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL)
International IDEA
International Republican Institute
JuventudLAC
Migrant Forum in Asia (MFA)
National Democratic Institute
National Endowment for Democracy
Netherlands Institute for Multiparty Democracy (NIMD)
 


Olof Palme International Center
Organization
Parliamentarians for Global Action
Parliamentary Center of Canada
PAX for Peace International
PEN America
Political Parties of Finland for Democracy – Demo Finland
Prague Civil Society Centre
Program on Democratic Resilience and Development, IDC Herzliya
Raoul Wallenberg Centre for Human Rights
Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe por la Democracia (REDLAD)
Solidarity Center
Swedish International Liberal Center (SILC)
Taiwan Foundation for Democracy
The Carter Center
The Center Party's International Foundation (CIS)
The Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA)
The Foreign Policy Centre
The George W. Bush Institute
The Inter American Institute of Human Rights (IIDH)
The International Democrat Union (IDU)
The International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Organization
The Jarl Hjalmarson Foundation
The Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS)
The McCain Institute for International Leadership
The Nadav Foundation
The Oslo Center
The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida
Transparency International
Unión de Partidos Latinoamericanos (UPLA)
V-Dem Institute
West Africa Centre for Democracy and Development
West Africa Civil Society Institute
Westminster Foundation for Democracy
World Movement for Democracy
World Uyghur Congress
World Youth Movement for Democracy
 

Individuals


Antoni  Abat Ninet
Diego  Abente Brun
Rinsola Abiola
Mantas Adomenas
Tamara Adrian
Alina Aflecailor
Sergio  Aguayo
Shahidul Alam
Fatima  Al-Bahadli
Ana Vilma Albanez de Escobar
Madeleine Albright
Svetlana Alexievich
Leila Alieva
Abdalaziz Younis Al-Jarba
Luis Almagro
Laura Alonso
Oraib Al-Rantawi
Josette Altmann
Titi Anggraini
Mohammad Hamid Ansari
William J. Antholis
Oscar   Arias Sanchez
Rosalía Arteaga Serrano
Yahya Assiri
Rick Atkinson
Brian Atwood
Shlomo Avineri
Lloyd Axworthy
Kelly Ayotte
Leszek Balcerowicz
Jan Peter Balkenende
Line Bareiro
Abdoulaye Bathily
Sanjaasuren Bayaraa
Christine Bell
Carol Bellamy
Mokhtar Benabdallaoui
Howard Berman
Antoine Bernard
Tom Bernstein
Rob Berschinski
Ales Bialiatski
Carl Bildt
Valdis Birkavs
Sonja Biserko
Sergio Bitar
Dennis C. Blair
E. Gyimah Boadi
Adam Bodnar
Enrique José Bolaños Geye
Kjell Magne Bondevik
Gerardo Bongiovanni
Nazanin Boniadi
Ladan Boroumand
Tanja A. Börzel
Catalina Botero
Emine Bozkurt
Marcus Brauchli
Laurens Jan Brinkhorst
Joel Brito
Darko Brkan
Elmar Brok
John Bruton
Vern Buchanan
Patricia Bullrich
Gianni Buquicchio
William J. Burns
Jeb Bush
Martin Butora
Jerzy Buzek
Micheline Calmy-Rey
Santiago Cantón
Andrew Card
Fernando Henrique Cardoso
Thomas Carothers
Sean Carroll
Johnnie Carson
Jean-Claude Casanova
Jorge Castañeda
Julieta Castellanos
Ateki Seta Caxton
Hikmet  Çetin
Charles Joseph Clark
Helen Clark
Radhika Coomaraswamy
Susan Corke
Pascal Couchepin
Vukosava Crnjanski
Chester A. Crocker
Katka   Cseh
Cheikh Oumar Cyrille Touré
Tom Gerald Daly
Lucia Dammert
Wang Dan
Michael Danby
Srdjan Darmanovic
Marzuki Darusman
Thomas Daschle
Charles Davidson 
Sabine de Bethune
F.W. de Klerk
Humberto de la Calle
Gloria de la Fuente
Liliana De Riz
Ravindra De Silva
Howard Dean
Koert Debeuf
Ronald Deibert
Neelam Deo
Larry Diamond
Jeroen Dijsselbloem
Cholpon Idinovna Djakupova
Klara Dobrev
Eileen Donahoe
Han Dongfang
Michele Dunne
Ivan Đurić
Rafal Dutkiewicz
Nassera Dutour
Shirin Ebadi
Eric Edelman 
Norman Eisen
Bilen Asrat Ejigu
Bjørn Engesland
Nidhi Eoseewong
Yakin Ertürk
Claudia Escobar Mejia
Joao Carlos Espada
Rosario Espinal
Aleksander Essex
Gareth Evans
Nino Evgenidze
Frank J. Fahrenkopf 
Ahmad Farouk
Lee Feinstein
Jeffrey Feltman
Niall Ferguson
Leonel Fernández
Ezzedine Choukri Fishere
Jan Fischer
Richard Fontaine
Federico Franco Gómez
Cindy Franssen
Louise Fréchette
Flavia Freidenberg
Ralf Fücks
Francis Fukuyama
Yoichi Funabashi
Chris Fussner 
Chelsea Gabel
William A. Galston
Adolfo  Garcé
Timothy Garton Ash
Chito Gascon
Dumiso Gatsha
Cesar Gaviria
Leymah R. Gbowee
Jeffrey Gedmin 
Sam Gejdenson
Richard Gephardt
Richard Gere
Eka Gigauri
Laura Gil
Ingibjörg Sólrún Gísladóttir
Ana Gomes
Lawrence Gonzi
Nicole Goodman
Gustavo Gorriti
Leonid Gozman
Mark Green 
Mike Green 
Borys Gudziak
Jean-Marie Guéhenno
Alfred Gusenbauer
Adam Habib
Thor Halvorssen
Maxine Tanya Hamada
Juela Hamati
Amr Hamzawy
Sung-Joo Han
Sascha Hannig Nunez
Husain  Haqqani
Miklos  Haraszti
Robert  Hardh
Stephen Harper 
Gary Hart
Haykuhi Harutyunyan
Bambang Harymurti
Bahey Hassan
Heidi Hautala
Ivan Miloš Havel
Vidar Helgesen
Noeleen Heyzer
Aya Hijazi
Rachel Hoff
Martin Hojsik
Theodore Hole
Agnieszka Holland
Zdeněk Hřib
Osvaldo Hurtado
Seung-hee Hwangbo
Ketevan Chachava
Lynda Chalker
Carlos Fernando Chamorro
Cristiana Chamorro
Glanis Changachirere
Michael Chertoff
Laura Chinchilla
Joaquim Alberto Chissano
Innocent Chukwuma
Jibrin Ibrahim
Anwar Ibrahim
Hasler Iglesias
Maiko Ichihara
Toomas Henrik Ilves
Jose Miguel Insulza
Roza Isakovna Otunbayeva
Gulalai  Ismail
Khadija Ismayilova
Samson Itodo
Ramin   Jahanbegloo
Atifete  Jahjaga
Edmundo Jarquín
Eddie D. Jarwolo
Seong-ho Ji
Yang Jianli
John John Shattuck
Jerry Jones
Oh Joon
Ivo Josipovic
Marina  Kaljurand
Natasa  Kandić
Vladimir Kara-Murza
Nils Karlson
Tawakkol Karman
Garry Kasparov
Hisham Kassem
Tae-Sup Keum
Zafarullah Khan
Mikhail  Khodorkovsky
Jean-Pierre Kingsley
 


Dismas Kitenge
Arnold Chung Chin Kiu
Bassma Kodmani
Jim Kolbe
Ernest Bai Koroma
Milica Kovacevic
David J. Kramer 
Ivan Krastev
Enrique Krauze
Peter Kreko
William Kristol
Andrius Kubilius
Joshua Kurlantzick
Aleksander Kwasniewski
Celso Lafer
Zlatko Lagumdzija
Karl-Heinz Lambertz
Bolivar  Lamounier
Pragya Lamsal
Vytautas Landsbergis
Arthur Larok
Greg Lebedev
Cheuk-Yan Lee
Martin Lee
Hong-koo Lee
Sook Jong Lee
Enrico  Letta
Bernard-Henri Lévy
Sarunas Liekis
Alexander Likhotal
Tod Lindberg
Xia Liu
Claudio Lodici
Peter MacKay
Mauricio Macri
Thuli Madonsela
Bálint Magyar
Graca Machel
Susana Malcorra
Aagon Maliqi
Cecilia Malmström
Anar Mammadli
Cristina Manzano
Giorgi Margvelashvili
Rafael Marques de Morais
Catherine Marshall
Mel Martinez
Myroslav Marynovych
Mohammed Masbah
Radwan A. Masmoudi
Cliff May 
Penda Mbow
Cindy McCain
Michael McFaul
Don McKinnon
H.R. McMaster
Matteo  Mecacci
Markus Meckel
Rexhep Meidani
Stefan  Meister
Thomas Melia
Rigoberta Menchú
Dan Meridor
Beatriz  Merino
Carlos  Mesa
Barbara Mikulski
Goran   Miletic
Robert C. Miller
Daniel Mitov
Walter Mondale
Carlos Alberto Montaner
Leonidas Montes
Davood Moradian
Leonardo Morlino
Marwan Muasher
Vipul Mudgal
Giorgi Muchaidze
Thomas Mulcair 
Akere Muna
Alina Mungiu-Pippidi
Surendra Munshi
Josh Muravchik
Azar Nafisi
Moises Naim
Ucha Nanuashvili
Andrew Natsios
Mustafa Nayyem
Zhanna Nemtsova
Constance Newman
Andrea Ngombet
Ghia Nodia
Pippa Norris
Andrej Nosov
Wai Wai Nu
Victoria Nuland
Clement Nwankwo
Olusegun Obasanjo
Ayo Obe
Nancy Okail
Nicholas Opiyo
Simón  Pachano
Ana Palacio
Martin Palous
Simon  Panek
Andres Pastrana
P.J. Patterson
Zygimantas Pavilionis
Rosa Maria Paya
Kris Peeters
Ted Piccone
Ivan Pilip
Michael Pinto-Duschinsky
Andrei  Piontkovsky
Kati Piri
Marc Plattner
Serhii Plokhii
Lilianne Ploumen
Bhoj Raj Pokharel
Peter Pollak
Sanjay  Pradhan
David E. Price
Danuta Przywara
Arch Puddington
Vesna Pusić
Xiao  Qiang
Nguyen Quang A
Teresita Quintos-Deles
Jorge Quiroga
S.Y. Quraishi
Iveta Radicova
Bob Rae
Jose Ramos-Horta
Fred Redmond
Maria Ressa
Benjamin Rhodes
Mykola Riabchuk
Malcolm Rifkind
Bill Richardson
Rafael Rincón
Milda Rivarola
George Robertson
Miguel Ángel Rodriguez
Francisco Rojas-Aravena
Petre Roman
Yaniv Roznai
Elyakim Rubinstein
Marco  Rubio
Kevin Rudd
Claudia Ruiz Massieu
Jacques Rupnik
Ibrahim Saif
Walid Salem
Maia Sandu
Lobsang Sangay
Juan Manuel Santos
Beatriz  Sarlo
Cheryl   Saunders
Bengt   Säve-Söderbergh
Gilbert  Sebihogo
Hugh    Segal
Vildana Selimbegovic
Fatiha   Serour
Livingstone Sewanyana
Kim Se-Yeon
Gulnara Shahinian
Sarkawt Shamsulddin
Natan Sharansky
Lilia Shevtsova
Michael Shifter
Kak-Soo Shin
Hassan Shire
Azmi Shuabi
Liz Shuler
Randy Scheunemann
Liz Schrayer
Sławomir Sierakowski
Radosław Sikorski
Kristen  Silverberg 
David Skaggs
Timothy Snyder
Nagwan Soliman
Luis Guillermo Solís Rivera
Guy Sorman
Wole Soyinka
Oliver Spasovski
Eduardo Stein
Serena  Sumanop
Zamira  Sydykova
Ha Taekyung
Yukio Takasu
Audrey Tang
Borys Tarasyuk
Natalia  Taubina
Esther  Tawiah
Yong-ho Thae
Linda Thomas-Greenfield
Tinatin Khidasheli
Samira  Tomawis-Gutoc
Elbegdorj Tsakhia
Kata Tüttő
Eduardo Ulibarri
Jon Ungphakorn
Maryam Garba  Usman
Davit Usupashvili
Cassam Uteem
Hans Van Baalen
Peter Van Praagh 
Anita Vandenbeld
Mario Vargas Llosa
Gaddi Vasquez
Guy  Verhofstadt
Melanne Verveer
Vaira  Vike-Freiberga
Joaquín Villalobos
Kaspar Villiger
José Miguel Vivanco
Kurt Volker
Lavon Volski
Alexander Vondra
Lech Wałęsa
Margot Wallström
George Weigel
Leon Wieseltier
George Will
Kenneth Wollack
Joshua Wong
Joseph Wu
Leyla Yunus
Muhammad Yunus
Zoran Zaev
Yevgeniy Zakharov
Roger Zakheim
Dov S. Zakheim 
Svitlana Zalishchuk
Nino Zambakhidze
Michael Zantovsky
Ernesto Zedillo
Yevgeniy Zhovtis
Philip Zimbardo
Emanuelis Zingeris
Kész Zoltán