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Democracy diminish alert by Swiss President

Alain Berset says the rule of law is at risk of eroding in the international system

PTI Davos Published 18.01.23, 03:26 AM
Alain Berset

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Swiss President Alain Berset on Tuesday said the number of democracies worldwide had “diminished very much” and that the world was at a tipping point with democratic institutions being weakened.

“In certain places, the rule of law is under threat -– even in some democratically constituted states. And the rule of law is also at risk of eroding in the international system,” Berset said in a special address at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2023 here.


He said the post-war order was experiencing its greatest crisis and that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine constituted a brutal attack on a peaceful country.

“But it is also a brutal attack on international law and multilateralism. The war is causing great suffering. And it is playing a decisive role in the global development of democracy,” Berset said.

He lauded the solidarity shown by democratic countries with Ukraine and rued that the aggression had come from, of all countries, a member of the UN Security Council which, under the UN Charter, bears “primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security”.

Berset said Switzerland would make every effort to again strengthen international law and multilateralism in the UN Security Council. He also said that inequality worldwide had continued to grow and brought with it huge political and social collateral damage.

“What we call populism is essentially a reaction to growing inequality. We all know that: extreme inequality undermines social cohesion. It creates resentment, causing us to seek scapegoats. And it is politicallytoxic, eating away at our faith in democracy,” he said.

“The number of democracies worldwide has diminished very much.

According to Freedom House, around 50 per cent of the world’s population lived in democracies 10 years ago. Today, that figure is just 20 percent.

“Business as usual is no longer an option. We must take steps to defend steadfastly the foundations that are a prerequisite for civilised coexistence.

“Self-interest and supporting those weaker than ourselves: we have long considered these to be two different things. Now we know: they are one and the same.”

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