The global trend of democratic backsliding, as well as lack of respect for human rights and the rule of law, are risks being exacerbated by the pandemic says Sweden.
“We have seen several worrying signs of this – not least in Asia and the Pacific Region. The Government has therefore decided to allocate approximately USD 12 million (SEK 100 million) in extra support to the Swedish strategy for regional development cooperation in Asia and the Pacific Region,” says Sweden’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“Democratic societal development and respect for civil and political rights have deteriorated in several parts of Asia and the Pacific Region in recent years. In several countries, civil society organisation have had their ability to take action curtailed and the media are under increasing pressure. Furthermore, corruption in several countries permeates all parts of society, including the legal system. Violence against women remains a major problem. This development has been further reinforced by the COVID-19 pandemic over the past year.”
Isabella Lövin, Minister for International Development Cooperation says “I view with concern the negative development of democracy and the lack of respect for human rights in several countries in the region. With today’s decision, the Government wants to further strengthen support to the forces working to counter this,”
The Swedish strategy for regional development cooperation in Asia and the Pacific Region, which applies for 2016–2021, has an integrated goal: sustainable development in Asia through mutual cooperation between human rights, democracy, gender equality, the environment and climate. In connection with the government decision of 11 June 2020 to phase out the bilateral strategy for Cambodia, a specific goal was also added regarding democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Cambodia. Today’s decision only covers the first-mentioned goal.
Ms Lövin says “Sweden must stand up for democracy and human rights where these are challenged,”