Tweede Summit for Democracy

Eerste Minister Alexander De Croo nam op uitnodiging van de Amerikaanse President Joe Biden (online) deel aan de tweede Summit for Democracy. Het centrale thema van de topontmoeting van regeringsleiders, het middenveld en de privésector is democratie en mensenrechten. Bekijk hier het statement van Eerste Minister Alexander De Croo tijdens de Summit for Democracy


Ladies and gentlemen,

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A beacon of hope, built on the ruins of a world shaken by unprecedented horror. The Declaration guarantees the universality of human rights: all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. This is the foundation of the modern international order, the essential obligation of all States.


Yet today, so many people still don’t enjoy these rights. In the absence of democracy, oppression of the past returns. Authoritarian regimes rise. And they undermine the political legitimacy of the government, just like the social and economic development of society. The resilience of our democracies is being tested by multiple global challenges, with concrete local consequences: from the Russian invasion of Ukraine to its devastating effects on global food, energy and finance systems; from the pandemic to climate change; from disinformation campaigns to attacks on human rights.

Democracy and the rule of law are essential and complementary pillars of human rights. When the exercise of freedoms regresses, democracy itself is at risk. We cannot protect universal rights in the absence of strong democracies. This is why Belgium’s participation to this Summit for Democracy is directly linked to the core rights and needs of the Belgian citizens, as much as those of citizens of the world.

We have pledged several commitments for democracy on domestic and international level. For instance, we lowered the voting age to 16 years for the European elections. By giving young people the opportunity to actively participate in our democracy, we allow them to make their voices heard and we further stimulate their interest in politics.

My government also started a broad democratic debate on the modernization, the efficiency and the democratic principles of the State. An online platform was launched for citizens, civil society, academics, experts and local authorities alike, to share ideas and opinions on institutional reform and democratic renewal.

A vital precondition for bolstering our democratic values lies in the full, equal and meaningful participation of women in our societies, and more specifically in our political systems. Many individual women have overcome the obstacles and are actively participating in political decisions. But more can be done to encourage women to take the front seat and to enhance sustainable stability and peace.

Ladies and gentlemen,
On the International Women's Rights Day, Belgium organized a debate on the political participation of women, to identify further concrete actions to take. Gender equality, the human rights of women and girls and their equal participation in decision-making are also priorities of Belgium’s mandate at the Human Rights Council.

With our unique institutional architecture, Belgium has a proven record of dialogue as a source of peaceful solutions. We remain ready to share experiences and hope to join forces to promote peace in Ukraine, just like in other regions across the world.

It is my strong belief that democracy, human rights, dialogue and respect for differences are far more effective weapons than hate and exclusion. Let us bring a positive narrative forward. The narrative of the open and inclusive values that we share.

Let me be clear: we will not back down on democratic principles and human rights. Today, I am glad to see that Belgium is not alone in this resolve.

Thank you.