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On the 9th and 10th of December 2021, President Biden hosted a virtual Summit for Democracy with leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector from all over the world. A few days before the Summit, we asked some of our partners for their thoughts. Here are snippets of what they shared.

Sarah Coolican, LSE, Ratiu Forum

This may push the idea of democracy promotion up the agenda internationally, however, it will not improve democracy promotion or lived civic engagement in areas that need it most. Meaningful and collaborative action has truly been shown to be a necessity in the promotion of a cohesive and inclusive society. This initiative and any partner action plan for cooperation are great, but for state-to-state relations and in foreign policy. What is needed is a commitment to nation-level investment in education programmes, journalism laws that make freedom of the press easier, journalist protections guaranteed, tougher action on international cyber-attacks. But most importantly, to increase civic engagement locally, the leaders who attend this summit must return to their states with tangible and measurable policies/initiative, that will actively promote democracy among their citizens. Therefore, increasing civilian trust in the democracy process internationally, and thus, hopefully, increasing civic engagement more locally.”

Field for a children game drawn on the ground with chalk with a start label

Direction pole on a sunset background

Annamaria Toth, European Forum Alpbach

Events like the Summit for Democracy are symbolic measures and most often don’t create direct impact. One could now say that they are nothing more than hot air but it’s also possible to say that symbols matter. In the latter case, by putting democracy in the centre of the global stage, the Summit could bring core democratic values and principles back to the public debate (where they belong, by the way). Looking at the EU, the Summit has already had one tangible impact: namely that the block cannot speak with one voice as Hungary has not been invited and is blocking a joint statement. And that shows that as long the EU does not resolve the issues of democracy and rule of law internally, it won’t be able to stand as a global player.

Jerzy Pomianowski, EED

From “Five Messages for the Summit for Democracy”

  1. Show solidarity with the world’s democrats. Democracies must deploy resources more effectively to assist the citizens of autocracies and weak democracies.
  2. Renew international settings. Democracies must reform international institutions so that they reflect and promote democratic values.
  3. Scale-up support to independent, ethical media and the overall information ecosystem to ensure access to accurate information while addressing mis-/disinformation. Democracies must promote independent, verified, and fact-checked information.
  4. Strengthen and support existing structures and encourage the creation of new structures and systems to enable greater transparency, accountability, and coordination among governments, technology companies, and civil society. Democracies must address the business models of internet platforms and algorithms that actively push harmful, violent content.
  5. Put our own house in order. Democracies must restore their credibility.”
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Author Peter Schmitz

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