In conjunction with today’s meeting between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet, the United States and Estonia announced that they will lead a groundbreaking new effort to support leaders in emerging democracies. The LEND Network (for Leaders Engaged in New Democracies) will leverage expertise from the Club de Madrid, the world’s largest forum of democratically elected former presidents and prime ministers, and 21st century technologies developed by Google and OpenText to connect leaders who have successfully navigated the challenges of democratization with leaders in emerging democracies. The project has also received generous financial support from the Government of Sweden.
The United States and Estonia will co-chair a Working Group within the Community of Democracies (CD) to support the LEND Network. The Network will augment face-to-face meetings with ongoing peer-to-peer exchanges via a secure virtual platform. The project will deploy tools for online voice, video, and text communication along with new translation technology to address the cost and logistical barriers that have limited such efforts in the past.
The LEND Network fills a crucial need. Currently, there is no online platform to facilitate real-time information sharing between leaders in new democracies and leaders who have undergone democratic transitions. The Network will provide a global forum for exchanging information and expertise on democratization from more than twenty countries and support leaders as they work to build strong, accountable institutions and establish the rule of law.
The CD Working Group on the LEND Network will be led by Dr. Tomicah Tillemann, Secretary Clinton’s Senior Advisor for Civil Society and Emerging Democracies, and Ambassador Merle Pajula, Director of Policy Planning for the Foreign Ministry of Estonia.
The Community of Democracies (CD) is an intergovernmental coalition of democratic countries established in 2000 to strengthen and deepen democratic norms and practices worldwide. Working through its democracy support Task Forces on Tunisia and Moldova, the LEND Network, and other initiatives, the CD unites partners from around the world in support of civil society and emerging democracies.
For more information, please contact Jeff Holiday in the Office of the Senior Advisor to the Secretary for Civil Society and Emerging Democracies at HolidayJD@state.gov.