Revitalizing Democracy Support in Troubled Times


The world has experienced a decade of decline in democracy, and the downward trajectory is accelerating, Freedom House reports:

Nativist sentiments in the United States and Europe are weakening support for the liberal world order, while China is increasingly assertive in projecting its hard and soft power and its anti-democratic model. Citizen activism meanwhile offers new opportunities and innovation for change in repressive environments. The annual conference of the Mark Palmer Forum for the Advancement of Democracy will explore new policies and initiatives for these troubled times, with a focus on U.S. foreign policy, China, and citizen activism.

Welcome remarks — 9:00 a.m.

Morning Keynote Speaker— 9:10 a.m.

Session 1 — 9:30 a.m. U.S. Policy in Defending Democracy

Growing nativist sentiments and public skepticism about international engagement are limiting U.S. capacity to support democracy abroad, even as the EU increasingly turns inward and the liberal world order comes under growing strain. Given these constraints, how can the next U.S. administration best defend democracy? What are the most effective diplomatic initiatives and resource priorities?


Richard Fontaine  President Center for a New American Security

Shannon Green Director and Senior Fellow, Human Rights Initiative Center for Strategic and International Studies

Moderator:  Elise Labott  Global affairs correspondent, CNN Invited

Coffee Break — 10:40 a.m.

Session 2 — 10:50 a.m.China: Repression and Response

Under President Xi Jinping, China has grown more repressive domestically and more assertive internationally in challenging democratic values. What do these trends portend for China’s future? How does repression in China affect U.S. interests? How can the United States and other democratic powers move to support human rights more effectively while maintaining dialogue with China? What can be done to better respond to the influence of China’s soft power?


Sarah Cook  Senior research analyst for East Asia Freedom House

Andrew Nathan  Professor of Political Science Columbia University

David Shambaugh  Director, China Policy Program George Washington University

Rana Siu Inboden  Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law University of Texas at Austin

Moderator: Mark P. Lagon  President Freedom House

Lunch — 12:00 p.m.

Afternoon Keynote Speaker — 12:30 p.m. The Honorable Gordon H. Smith President and CEO, National Association of Broadcasters

Session 3 — 12:50 p.m. Citizen Activism in the Digital Age

Political dynamism now emerges mainly from grassroots activism and informal networks, usually incubates and grows online, and often includes elements of artistic expression. This session features activists from different political environments providing show-and-tell of the cutting edge of modern activism.


Hala Aldosari (above) Women’s right activist, Saudi Arabia

Engin Önder  140journos, Turkey

Moderator: Christian Caryl Managing Editor, Democracy Lab Foreign Policy

Thursday, September 8, 2016 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Registration and breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m.

Freedom House 1850 M Street NW Suite 1100 Washington, D.C. 20036


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