Bringing a peace and conflict perspective into Local Democracy

Selma Johansson started her internship at ICLD in January 2021 and she brings a rather unique perspective, that of conflict prevention and security. Selma is pursuing a master’s in political science at the Swedish Defence University. 

“I want to see and understand what is necessary to make sure that democracy and other human rights are protected from things that may threaten them”, says Selma.

People are at the centre of both democracy and security. “I would say that the most important link between democracy and security is the people. With people in the front, democratic change and development can be seen as something necessary for the wellbeing and security of the world”, said Selma.

Giving people the power over their lives and the possibility to choose their representatives is one of the great things about democracy. However, democracy is not something that is constant once you have a democratic system, it is rather a constant practice. When the threat comes from within, when people do not feel that their voices have been heard, the democratic system is questioned. Accountability comes into question. That is why it’s important to look at what threatens a country’s security, because many times it’s not just a foreign threat. Frustration amongst citizens can build up not only against the government in power, but also against the notion of democracy itself.

According to Selma, understanding the fragility of something such as democracy and its broad effect on the international arena from a security perspective is something, she hopes to contribute with at ICLD.

What do you like the most about the ICLD mission so far?

To start with the local people in the area where you want to promote local democratic development brings a whole new perspective to development work when you work from their conditions and needs, but they also know their region better than anyone. Listening and trying to understand their viewpoint on dilemmas may make work easier and hopefully result in positive change. This is definitely something I really like about the ICLD mission and is excited to learn more about.

Further Reading:

International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance 2006. “Democracy, Conflict and Human Security: Policy Summary: Key Findings and Recommendations”