Of the many foreign policy tools, supporting democracy abroad is one of the least costly and most effective contributions a country can make to resist bad actors, uphold global values, protect national security and invest in a more peaceful, prosperous world, says Gabrielle Bardall, an electoral assistance specialist and gender adviser at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and a research fellow at the University of Ottawa’s Centre for International Policy Studies.
Yet in the same decade that saw the most dramatic global decline in democratic values since the Second World War, Canada all but abandoned aid for international democracy support, she writes for the Institute for Research on Public Policy:
So says the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, in its first report in over 10 years on Canada’s international support for democratic development. The June 2019 report finds that Canadian funding for democracy support is only 2 to 4 percent of international development assistance (IDA) today — down from as much as 14 percent a decade ago — and that the institutions and structures that provided vision, leadership and human capacity for this endeavour have been gutted or dissolved.
This decimation of Canadian engagement in democratic IDA could not have come at a worse time. The world has been in the throes of a brutal “democratic recession,” with over 13 years of recorded declines in political rights and civil liberties. ….Resurging authoritarianism and populism are sweeping all parts of the globe, and support for democracy is at a historic low.
That’s the bad news. The good news? There has never been a better moment to reengage — the right approach, strategy and partners could breathe new life into the global democracy movement. RTWT