As we farewell 2022, many of the world’s citizens will be hoping for a better new year. It is hard to look back on the past year – indeed couple of years – without a high degree of angst about the direction of our global community. We have been battered by a pandemic that, while past the peak for most nations, is still disrupting societies and economies. After two years of its hermit-like isolation, 1.4 billion Chinese citizens are now experiencing a nationwide Covid onslaught for the first time with ripples that will not only affect the lives of those in China but the rest of the world linked to the second largest economy.
The overarching ongoing threat is climate change. While there have been many steps forward we are still walking when we need to be running if we are to protect our planet from unsustainable temperature rises.
Most notably however, 2022 has been the year of the tyrants, with the erosion of liberal democratic values now posing a greater threat to the freedom of so many around the world. This is not a new phenomenon – democracy has been on the retreat for much of the 21st century. Yet the actions of Putin’s Russia, the ambitions of President Xi of China and the craziness that has entered US politics have all highlighted the threats democracy faces and our hopes for a peaceful world.
Freedom House, a US-based NGO, has tracked democracy and freedom around the world for decades. Its most recent global assessment, which covered 2021, found freedom had gone backwards in 60 nations and only improved in 25. Starkly, it found only 20% of the world’s population lives in nations categorised as “free”. Nearly twice as many – 38% – live in countries which are designated as “not free”, with the balance in nations that enjoy limited but not adequate freedoms and democracy….