Democracy and human rights are under pressure in many countries. Even in Sweden, we must do more to guarantee human rights to everyone and to not take democracy for granted.
Today is the UN’s International Democracy Day.
Therefore, today, we urge municipalities and regions to shift their local work to strengthen human rights, in Sweden and around the world.
Together with Johan Lilja, Secretary General, ICLD, this is what Morten Kjaerum, Director, RWI write in an Opinion Editorial today.
It is with growing concern that we are following how democracy and the protection of human rights are being challenged around the world.
The Covid-19 pandemic this has put human rights even more at risk.
Authoritarian forces have used the pandemic vacuum to advance their positions. At the same time, many duty bearers, such as states, regions and municipalities, have found it more difficult to fulfill their tasks of guaranteeing the rights of their inhabitants.
Human rights are our common guarantee for protection from injustice and access to good living conditions. They are also the starting point for the global goals in Agenda 2030.
Admittedly, protection is stronger in Sweden than in many other countries. But, this is too often taken for granted, despite the fact that we still have major challenges.
The challenges are still many
We see challenges in different areas. Everyone has the right to be treated fairly and equally, regardless of gender or skin color.
We all have the right to participate and have our voice heard on issues that affect us, regardless of our age. We have the right to have access to service, culture and other things in our communities, regardless of our functional variation or disability. This is still not always the case.
In many areas, protection of human rights has to be strengthened – in Sweden as well as elsewhere in the world.
Municipalities and regions play a crucial role in protecting these rights.
We at Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI) and the International Center for Local Democracy (ICLD) engage and strengthen municipalities and regions in their ability to safeguard democracy and human rights at the local level.
Become a Human Rights City: Ensure the application of international human rights standards
We wish that and encourage more Swedish municipalities and regions to engage. Through RWI’s Human Rights Cities, more Swedish municipalities and regions can become equipped with knowledge of their role in the protection of human rights.
With the support of ICLD, Swedish municipalities and regions can engage in Swedish development cooperation together with an international partner through the cooperation form Municipal Partnerships. During the autumn, a new investment in human rights will take place here.
Democracy and human rights are of little importance if the authorities closest to their inhabitants do not uphold them.
That is why today, on International Democracy Day, we invite Swedish municipalities and regions to increase your efforts in protecting democracy and human rights.
Swedish municipalities and regions can – and should – make a difference.
We can help.
For more information, please contact Morten Kjaerum.