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Human Rights & Democracy: The 2020 Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office Report

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CHAPTER 1: Human Rights and Democracy Priority Themes

Democracy and Democratic Freedoms

Promoting democracy and defending democratic freedoms are fundamental to the UK’s foreign policy. We believe that strong democratic institutions and accountable governments, which uphold universal rights and the rule of law, are key building blocks for secure and prosperous states.

We witnessed a number of challenges to democracy in the world in 2020 exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. There was further evidence of the retreat of democracy and a rise in authoritarianism. In 2020, the NGO Freedom House recorded a decline in global freedom for the 15th consecutive year[1]. COVID-19 brought the interdependence of democracy and human rights into even sharper focus, with governments using the crisis to restrict civil liberties further and to entrench repressive measures.

The UK continued to defend democracy through support to electoral processes. In 2020, the UK funded observers to election observation missions run by the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). In Georgia, we funded three longterm observers to parliamentary elections in November; in Moldova we funded two long-term observers to presidential elections in November; and eight to Ukraine to observe the local elections in October. Through our Embassies and High Commissions, the UK continued to support democratic political institutions and promote good governance. In Nigeria, the UK funded and supported Nigerian civil society groups to observe voting during elections in Edo and Ondo states. The UK played a leading role, working with partners in the international community, to help ensure credible elections in Guyana in March.