At the invitation of US President Joe Biden, President Guy Parmelin took part in a summit held by video conference on Thursday, 9 December, on the values and challenges of democracy. In his address, Mr Parmelin stressed that democratic values are resilient despite challenges.
“History has shown that democracy can bring justice, social stability, peace, freedom and economic prosperity. Better than any other political system, it allows for the self-realisation of individuals,” Mr Parmelin said. “Democracy’s universal appeal has not diminished – especially not to those living in non-democratic countries. At the same time, we face a worrying trend in established democracies of weakening support for the institutions. The sense of community and the subtle balance between rights and duties is being eroded.”
Despite these challenges, Mr Parmelin stressed that he remains optimistic: “Democracies are resilient. Take my country, Switzerland – linguistically, culturally, historically and politically diverse. We have built our nation not on objective given factors, but on our common will to live together under rules freely chosen by ourselves. Today this diversity is our great strength, since it allows for creativity and innovation in a globalised context.”
Mr Parmelin also explained why Switzerland is committed to democracy in its foreign policy: “Our approach is a principled one – not against someone, but for democracy, not only because we are convinced that democracy can bring justice and freedom at the individual level, but also peace, stability and prosperity among nations.”
With the Summit for Democracy, which is being attended by more than 100 heads of state and government, the US government aims to create a platform to promote engagement between states, civil society and the private sector on democratic values and human rights, thus strengthening democracy as a form of government. The virtual summit, which will last until Friday, December 10, 2021is intended to kick off a process that will be continued with a physical summit on democracy at the end of next year.