Youth and student organisations from all Finnish parliamentary parties are concerned about the shrinking space of civil society around the world and are calling for support especially for civil society in Ukraine, Russia and Belarus.
Active and independent civil society is one of the preconditions for a functioning democracy. A pluralistic civil society has an important role to play in democracy: civil society actors can criticise political decision-making, call for reforms and highlight issues that would not otherwise be addressed in politics. According to several democracy reports, the state of democracy has been deteriorating globally for many years, and democratic decline often starts with restrictions on civil society. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was the culmination of its long-running authoritarian development, during which Russia has detached itself from the values and norms of the international community. It also demonstrates the dangers of authoritarian rule. Democracy promotes peace and stability.
Although humanitarian aid is much needed in an acute crisis, support for the preconditions for democracy must not be forgotten. Ukrainian civil society has played a significant role in the democratic development of Ukraine in recent years and is now playing a key role both in providing assistance to those affected by the war and in monitoring human rights violations. After the crisis, civil society is also needed to rebuild and strengthen the democratic system. The European Union and its member states must support Ukrainian civil society, for example by providing a simplified access to EU funding.
In addition, the EU and its member states must support civil society, human rights defenders and democracy activists in Russia and Belarus. In Russia, independent civil society has been suppressed, and in Belarus, large-scale demonstrations following the flawed elections in 2020 have led to growing political persecution of the democracy movement. Independent NGOs, both within the countries and in exile, need support to be able to function. The EU and its member states must find ways to support Russian and Belarusian civil society.
Representatives of the organisations drafted the joint statement within the framework of Demo Finland’s Democracy Academy.
Centre Students Finland
Christian Democratic Youth
Federation of Green Youth and Students
Finnish Centre Youth
Left Students of Finland
Left Youth of Finland
Movement Now Youth
Social Democratic Students
Social Democratic Youth
Student Union of National Coalition Party (Tuhatkunta)
Swedish Youth of Finland
Youth of the Finns Party
Youth of the National Coalition Party