Democracy and human rights

There is no democracy without civil society. The core of Forum Syd's work to achieve democracy and universal human rights is to support and strengthen civil society organisations.
Vegetable street vendor in Yangon  reads about ­democracy
Vegetable street vendor in Yangon reads about ­democracy. Photo: Margoth Sonnebo

By supporting organisations and mobilising of rights holders to claim and defend human rights and democratic representation we can achieve true sustainable change. This can only be done by an organised civil society working together to challenge unjust and discriminatory structures.

All of Forum Syd’s activities are based on the principles and fulfilment of democracy and human rights. For a government to be representative it has to be legitimately represented. We achieve this by strengthening individuals and organisations working for democratisation and holding duty bearers accountable for the respect of human rights.

Democracy is an ongoing process

Democracy constitutes that all persons within a society are free to express themselves and can claim their rights. While the upholding of citizens’ rights is at the heart of democracy, democracy is an ongoing process that requires a great deal of hard work to maintain. Civil society around the globe is working continuously to improve the quality of democracy, civil demands, priorities and rights and Forum Syd's role is to support this work.

We’re not here to build schools

To this end, civil society makes a vital contribution in focusing on non-discrimination and active popular participation, which are the pillars of a sustainable society. Forum Syd gives particular support to the engagement and mobilisation of people living under marginalised conditions and groups that seldom have access to power in a country. If, for example, the state does not meet its obligation to provide universal education, Forum Syd’s task is to strengthen and support the local civil society in order to bring about the change that the people want to see in their education system. If we do this successfully, we can help to build a sustainable society that empowers people to take control over their own lives.

Forum Syd recognises a fundamental link between democracy, human rights, gender equality and equity, environment and climate, conflict and do no harm, and applies a rights-based approach to its work. This means turning the spotlight on discrimination and injustice by analysing differences and identifying power relations so that we can understand how and when people’s freedoms are being violated.