Summit for Democracy will ‘galvanize commitments’, highlight resilience & renewal



US President Joe Biden will convene world leaders in December for a virtual “Summit for Democracy” that will be seen as a response to the growing authoritarian resurgence, especially the threat from China, and as a democratic counterpart to the traditional G20 meeting.

The gathering, which has been the subject of considerable speculation since Biden’s election, “will kick off a year of action by participants to make democracies more responsive and resilient, and to build a broader community of partners committed to global democratic renewal,” according to the State Department.

The Summit for Democracy will “galvanize commitments and initiatives across three principal themes: defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights,” a White House statement said.

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Biden has said that “the challenge of our time is to demonstrate that democracies can deliver by improving the lives of their own people and by addressing the greatest problems facing the wider world,” the statement added. Those attending will discuss “the challenges facing democracy so as to collectively strengthen the foundation for democratic renewal,” it added.

An official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe the event ahead of the announcement, said the list of invitees is not final and will depend in part on which nations appear receptive, The Washington Post reports:

The person would not confirm whether particular leaders were likely to receive invitations but said the goal was to convene a mix of established democracies and “emerging” ones. “We’re not trying to define who’s a democracy and who isn’t,” the official said. “What we are really looking for as we engage in this outreach is some kind of will and ability to deliver on meaningful commitments to reinforce democracy and rights.”

“When authoritarian regimes point out our imperfections, I think that misses the point, because we’re not claiming perfection,” the official told The Post. “The summit is not about perfection. What we’re saying is, we don’t shrink from scrutiny. We are always trying to use our system to improve ourselves, and because of that, I think it gives democracy a kind of powerful resilience that other systems don’t have.”

Strengthening democracy at home and abroad is central to U.S. national security, National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan tweeted (below).

Building solidarity & collaboration across a diverse group of democracies is so critical for making lasting progress on the world’s urgent challenges, USAID director Samantha Power added. 

The summit will convene leaders from government, civil society and the private sector on December 9 and 10, the White House announced, though it did not disclose what countries or groups will be participating, adds Forbes.

The leaders of the G20, whose composition is determined by economic weight and includes authoritarian regimes such as China and Saudi Arabia, are due to meet at the end of October in Italy, AFP notes.

Democracy advocates, including the National Endowment for Democracy (NED), its core institutes and partners, are likely to welcome the summit as the first step in a long-overdue counter-offensive against the growing confidence and assertiveness of autocratic powers.

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