New democratic coalitions a ‘strategic imperative’ to counter autocrats


Combatting the authoritarian surge will require the world’s democracies to act as a community of action to uphold a free and open order, argues Daniel Twining, the president of the International Republican Institute. That’s the logic of the Summit for Democracy that President Biden will convene in December. It is the impetus for new democratic coalitions such as the Australia-United Kingdom-U.S. (AUKUS) defense alliance and the Quadrilateral Partnership (Quad) of India, Japan, Australia and the United States.

The strategic imperative of defending democracy requires standing with those around the world struggling for democratic empowerment, he writes for the Hill.

Credit: OCCRP

But if the authoritarian tide is to be turned, the West’s democracies must take a clear stand on issues where, too often, they duck and dive, the Guardian’s Simon Tisdall writes. As the Pandora Papers (right) demonstrate, western governments are their own worst enemies when, facilitating financial skullduggery, they help dictators and autocrats rob their own people, launder ill-gotten gains and profit from the denial of democracy and freedom.

The Biden administration’s planned Summit of Democracies should include a focus on the challenges posed by emerging technologies for democracy, say analysts Trisha Ray and Jan Hornat. Discussions should center not only on the threats emanating from “digital authoritarians”, as such challenges are easier to detect, but on how democracies themselves are already denying fundamental rights in the initial implementation of technologies in their governing structures, they write in Global Cooperation of Democracies in the Digital Realm, a Policy Paper for Forum 2000:

  • Debates about digital challenges to democracy should be “mainstreamed” into all discussions about the future of democracy, human rights and freedoms – this mainly concerns public fora and CSOs that engage in efforts aimed at educating the public about these topics
  • Democratic governments should — through multilateral platforms like the OECD or the UN — establish a code of conduct for governments in the sphere of surveillance. The concept of “ethical surveillance” could help democracies and private technology companies understand the boundaries of personal data collection….
  • There is a pressing need to harmonize the patchwork of data protection frameworks — implemented or proposed. Furthermore, the revitalization of a DFFT-like process should be inclusive of the deliberation stage. The case of South Africa, India and Indonesia (viz the Osaka Declaration on DFFT) presents a cautionary tale on the risks of an exclusionary process that does not acknowledge the equitable growth imperatives of developing countries.
  • The EU and the US should move toward establishing the proposed Transatlantic Agreement on Artificial Intelligence, ideally including more democratic stakeholders.

With research and therefore agenda-setting power concentrated in a handful of Atlantic countries, diversified funding for think tanks and universities requires the establishment of a global fund for research that prioritizes underrepresented countries and communities would greatly benefit the richness of the debate, they conclude. RTWT

If democracy is to survive, cooperation and mutual support, as well as trust and effective conflict-resolution mechanisms among democratic actors on the global scale will be crucial, Forum 2000 adds. How to make sure that values of freedom and democracy remain strong and lasting in these complicated times? What steps should we take to form a resilient and effective global coalition for democracy?

These questions will be addressed by a panel at next week’s Forum 2000 – What Now? Building Back Democratically (above):


Moderator: Šimon Pánek, People In Need.

Speakers: Slovak politician and environmental activist Zuzana Čaputová; Belarusian opposition activist Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya; National Endowment for Democracy (NED) President and CEO Damon Wilson; Oxford University’s Timothy Garton Ash; and Togolese human rights activist Farida Nabourema. Tuesday, October 12. 16:30 – 17:30 CET.

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