Studies on democracy trends are showing that democracy has been in decline globally for over a decade. Fair elections, freedom of expression and association as well as freedom of media are deteriorating and populist and autocratic influences are on rise. These trends are creating negative environment for activists, and a necessity for higher level of cooperation and joint actions based of universal values of democracy and human rights.
Media is covering incidents that are happening due to democratic decline, however, general trends are not sufficiently understood and reported on. Furthermore, as freedom of media is also declining, it is hard to expect that current situation will change in a positive direction. Post-truth culture, fake news and utilization of soft power tools by autocratic centers of power can only additionally narrow the space for voices of freedom.
Democracy and free media crisis is having exceptionally hard impact on youth that doesn’t have memory of totalitarian regimes of the past, nor the struggle for freedom and fundamental rights of previous generation that can serve as a motivation for action. Young people are facing discrimination and isolation from decision making processes and with worsening of the trends their trust in democracy can be even weaker.
World Youth Movement for Democracy (WYMD), as a youth wing of World Movement for Democracy (WMD) gathers youth networks, organizations and individuals who are committed to universal democratic values. Through work in their societies they support building and consolidation of democracies, resist autocratic leaders and dictatorships, and actively preach importance of free and open societies among their peers. It is therefore, due to the many challenges modern democracies face, that we stand with the WMD in their call for democratic renewal. Please read the full statement in the document below.
During the Ninth Assembly of the World Movement for Democracy, building on the “A Call for Democratic Renewal” Statement, the following themes were covered:
- Defending democratic space – talks about how civil society can counter the detrimental effects of authoritarian systems, and how civil society organizations can continue their work despite constant threats and restrictions. This theme also covers the process and necessity of strengthening democratic institutions.
- Strengthening democratic unity – democratic unity can be achieved through the strengthening of democratic values and principles through intergenerational and intersectional cooperation and partnerships. Through the collaboration of key institutions in various countries the development of pro-democratic regional and international networks is made possible.
- Protecting integrity in the information space – this theme examines the digital threats to internet governance and the growing phenomenon of spreading disinformation through “fake news” and similar efforts.
During the Dakar Assembly, the World Youth Movement for Democracy held workshops that addressed the issues of democracy decline and discuss plans for democratic renewal campaign. Youth voices are crucial for this initiative, and WYMD aims to amplify them on a global scale. Therefore, this workshop served as a starting point to discuss how to achieve this aim with existing and newly developed capacities and tools.
The objectives of the workshops were to:
- inform participants about work of WYMD and its role in promoting democratic renewal
- deepen participants’ commitment to democratic values and participation in the campaign
- discuss various models of participation and tools of engagement
- have a better understanding of the Prague Appeal for Democratic Renewal and WYMD’s role in promoting democratic renewal
- commit to work together with WYMD, and within their local networks and organizations on democratic renewal
- list different models for the campaign activities