Press Release: International Day of Democracy – Democratic Duress in Belarus

On the International Day of Democracy, The Oslo Center would like to take the opportunity to issue a reminder that the freedom and peace cultivated by democracies should not be taken for granted. It is with sadness that it has observed Belarus’s current state and encourages its leadership to uphold the importance of democracy. The strength of democratic nations rests in respect of diversity and the meaningful participation of its people. The peaceful transition of power is part of the natural chain of democracy. As such, The Oslo Center would urge the sitting Belarusian government to uphold the following:

Democratic Elections: Elections are a cornerstone of any healthy democracy. Free and fair elections should be respected to ensure peace and development. They give people the right to select their government. For voters to be confident that the government authority derives from people’s will, their choices need to be respected.

Inclusive Democracy: Diversity exists across all societies, and whilst it is human to differ, democracies manage these differences through peaceful dialogue and meaningful participation. The use of violence should cease immediately. It decreases the confidence in that state’s ability to manage and respond to the people’s will.

Women in Politics: The increasing number of women in leadership positions has resulted in collaborative spaces for political solutions. Their inclusion and substantial role in society should be embraced and encouraged to contribute to a participative democratic Belarus.

The year 2020 has reminded us that we are only as strong as the weakest link. This year has seen major political, economic, and social complications. Countries have risen to the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic crisis, and it has tested the world’s ability to adapt, respond, and grow. Following the example of Belarus, it is important that we keep respecting democratic spaces and process.

From Australia to Zimbabwe, 82 elections have had to be postponed, and 90 countries, including European states, declared emergency. 22 nations took measures that affect the freedom of expression and 122 that impact the right to assembly. Worldwide there has been a sharp increase in unemployment, business foreclosure, economic decline, arrests, domestic violence, postponed elections, and public service gaps worldwide.

Heading the warning of these stressors to democracy, we urge states, donors and the international to support the strengthening of democracies and their role in providing a safe and fair representation of all.

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