Anförande om mänskliga rättigheter av statsminister Magdalena Andersson vid Summit for Democracy


Digitalt, den 10 december 2021 (på engelska)
Det talade ordet gäller.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is a great honour for me to open this panel on Expanding Civic Space: Empowering Human Rights Defenders and Independent Media Within and Across Borders.

I commend President Biden for holding this Summit for Democracy.


Ladies and gentlemen,

Democracy safeguards the freedom for all to think and speak freely.

It protects our right to organise, influence and question.

To appoint our leaders in free and fair elections. And to hold them to account.

But democracy is not something that you have, it is something you must work for, continuously.

It does not exist by default, nor will it develop by chance.

Democracy goes hand-in-hand with respect for human rights, the rule of law and equality. Gender equality and equality between people of all backgrounds.

It cannot develop in a society without equality, or where people cannot freely express their opinions. At the same time, there is a correlation between authoritarian forms of governance, disregard for the rule of law and disrespect for human rights.

Unfortunately, we see this negative correlation playing out in many parts of the world.

We see democratic principles being challenged.

We see the rule of law being eroded.

And we see human rights being called into question, sidelined and under attack.

This also applies to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

This trend has been further aggravated by the pandemic – and by the fact that far too many decision-makers have used it to suppress opposing voices.

This, in addition to the effects of the pandemic itself, hitting those who are most vulnerable the hardest, increases already existing inequalities.


Around the world, democratic principles are being challenged and space for civil society is shrinking. Human rights defenders, journalists and media workers are being intimidated, harassed, and subjected to violence for merely expressing opinions or reporting on current events. The same applies in social media, where harassments and threats are posted. 

Workers are being denied their rights and representation, LGBTIQ persons are subjected to violence, discrimination, and stigmatisation. Four environmental rights defenders are murdered every week globally.

These developments must be reversed.

We must all do more to protect and expand civic space.

We have different roles to play.

As Prime Minister of Sweden, let me give a few concrete examples of what my Government will do:

  • A diverse independent media and strong public service broadcasting will receive greater support throughout the country.
  • Support to cultural and sport institutions throughout the country will increase.
  • Our national minorities’ cultures and language rights will be reinforced and legal protection against discrimination will be enhanced.
  • Activities that counteract or prevent racism will receive increased support.
  • Parallel societies and organised crime weaken societies, undermine the cohesion of communities and taint our democracies. Efforts to counter these phenomena will be substantially increased.
  • Early next year, a human rights institute will be established to promote and defend human rights at national level.

A democracy must ensure that all of society can participate in a meaningful way.

Democracies must be inclusive and give all people equal opportunity to exercise their civic rights and duties.

As the American educator and civil rights leader Jo Ann Robinson[1] once said:

“People the world over should know that any group, if given equal opportunity in education, employment, civil rights, and the like, can be desirable citizens anywhere, with as much to offer as any other group.”

This, in my view, is the best recipe for a thriving democracy in any country. I will do all that I can as Prime Minister to develop our democracy in this spirit.


Sweden will also continue to actively promote democracy abroad.

We will further expand our international outreach through the “Drive for Democracy”. This initiative has enabled us to reach approximately 1.7 million individuals worldwide – from grassroots organisations to government representatives, it is a forum for frank discussions on democratic challenges and how to overcome them.

We have increased support to civil society organisations, human rights defenders, journalists and media actors, as well as to women’s and young people’s political participation and democratic institution-building. At present, more than a quarter of Swedish development assistance goes to human rights and democracy.

As this year’s Chair of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, Sweden has made commitments on human rights, democracy and the rule of law the core of our priorities. We will continue to do so going forward, in particular during our upcoming Presidency of the Council of the EU in the spring of 2023.


While acknowledging the challenges of our time, we must not forget the positive developments. Despite challenges, democracy has proven resilient.

Women’s political participation is increasing.

Human rights defenders continue to engage and mobilise.

Journalists and other media workers defy challenges to tell people’s stories and hold political leaders to account.

New technologies have helped civil society networks to grow, and civil society actors to adapt their actions even under authoritarian regimes.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Human rights are universal and apply to all.

We must all be able to fully enjoy our human rights – irrespective of sex, sexual orientation gender identity or expression, ethnicity, religion or belief, disability, age or income.

This is a top priority for me and my Government –in both our domestic and foreign policies.


I am looking forward to today’s discussion.

Let us share our good examples and learn from each other.

And let this discussion be the starting point of the year of action we have ahead of us, to protect and promote human rights and to expand civic space.

Thank you.