In conjunction with yesterday’s meeting of the Community of Democracies’ (CD) Governing Council in Ulaanbaatar, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Mongolian President Tsakhiagiin Elbegdorj, and Estonian Foreign Minister Urmas Paet formally launched the LEND Network – a global technology platform to support Leaders Engaged in New Democracies. The event served as a virtual ribbon-cutting for the project and demonstrated the innovative tools that the Network will use to connect leaders who have successfully navigated the challenges of democratization with leaders in emerging democracies.
The United States and Estonia co-chair the CD’s LEND Network working group. 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 share leadership of the project. Moldovan Foreign Minister Iurie Leanca and former Slovak Minister of Foreign Affairs Pavol Demes participated in yesterday’s launch via live video chat, demonstrating the platform’s ability to support real time voice, video, and text communication. These tools, combined with sophisticated new translation technologies, will help address many of the cost and logistical barriers that have limited such exchanges in the past.
Approximately twenty countries are participating in the LEND Network with the goal of exchanging best practices and experience acquired during past transitions to democracy with senior officials working to consolidate democratic gains in today’s newest democracies. Advisors participating in the initiative come from countries including Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Mongolia, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, and South Africa. The project received technology resources from companies including Google, OpenText, and DialCom-Spontania, funding from Sweden and the United States, and backing from many leading civil society organizations. The Club de Madrid, the world’s largest organization of democratically elected former presidents and prime ministers, will serve as the key implementing partner in organizing face-to-face visits that will take place under the auspices of the Network.
The LEND Network is the CD’s newest initiative, and it furthers the organization’s main objective of supporting democratization around the world. The Network will augment the critical demand-driven work that is already occurring to support promising transitions through the Community’s Democracy Partnership Challenge Task Forces.