The Summit for Democracy is a flagship presidential initiative that illustrates the Biden-Harris Administration’s commitment to putting democracy and human rights at the heart of U.S. foreign policy.
President Biden convened a broad and diverse group of world leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector at the first Summit for Democracy held virtually on December 9 and 10, 2021. The Summit focused on three themes: strengthening democracy and countering authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights.
The U.S. government viewed the first Summit as an opportunity to listen, learn, and speak about the challenges facing democracy within the United States and abroad.
Participating governments—including the United States—pledged to support domestic and international commitments in our shared push to bolster democracy from local to global levels.
Civil society, private sector partners, and philanthropic organizations from around the world were engaged in the first Summit.
The United States will co-host a second Summit in March 2023 with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and Republic of Zambia. The second Summit for Democracy will assemble world leaders in a virtual, plenary format, followed by gatherings in each of our countries with representatives from government, civil society, and the private sector.
Q: What are the Summit’s areas of focus?
The Summit for Democracy has three pillars of focus:
Strengthening democracy and defending against authoritarianism;
Addressing and fighting corruption; and
Promoting respect for human rights.
Q: When did the Summit take place?
The Summit for Democracy will take place in two stages. The first Summit was a virtual leader-level event on December 9-10, 2021. The United States will co-host the second Summit in March 2023 with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and Republic of Zambia. The second Summit for Democracy will assemble world leaders in a virtual, plenary format, followed by gatherings in each of our countries with representatives from government, civil society, and the private sector. Between the two Summits the U.S. Government and its partners are engaged in a “Year of Action” to advance the Summit’s goals and commitments made at the first Summit.
Q: Where did the Summit take place?
For the first Summit from December 9-10, 2021, most of the programming was livestreamed on www.state.gov. Information about how to view the second Summit will be posted here when available.
Q: How will you ensure that civil society has a meaningful opportunity to connect with government representatives at the Summit?
The U.S. Government is engaged with national, regional, and international civil society on democratic renewal and in designing and implementing concrete commitments and deliverables for the Summit. We have asked all Summit participants to involve relevant civil society in a meaningful and collaborative manner.
The voices of civil society were featured throughout the first Summit’s agenda and at the gathering’s many side events. The second Summit will also provide opportunities for civil society to connect with government representatives through a virtual program and hybrid-format gatherings.
Stakeholders are coming together through Democracy Cohorts — co-led by governments and civil society and include foundations, and the private sector — to advance Summit commitments on topics such as technology for democracy, media freedom, countering disinformation, youth engagement, financial transparency and integrity, and gender equality and women’s political participation.
The U.S. government is holding a series of consultations with a broad cross-section of non-governmental organizations, philanthropies, and the private sector to discuss fulfillment of U.S. Summit commitments and planning for the second Summit on topics including the rule of law, labor rights, civic space, election integrity, gender equality, racial equity and justice, and promoting and protecting the human rights of persons with disabilities and LGBTQI+ persons.
Q: What kind of commitments were made?
All democracies, including the United States, face challenges. Participating in the Summit provides an opportunity governments, civil society, and members of the private sector to make meaningful public commitments in support of democracy, human rights, and the fight against corruption at home and abroad.
During this Year of Action, the United States and our partners are actively engaged in implementing over 750 commitments made at the first Summit for Democracy. Commitments include legislative reforms, foreign assistance efforts, international advocacy, and implementation of international standards. The United States announced the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, a landmark set of policy and assistance efforts to address key themes of the Summit.
Q: What role do partnerships play in the Summit for Democracy?
The Summit provides an opportunity to highlight the importance of partnerships—with local and national governments, legislatures, civil society, philanthropic organizations, and the private sector. At its core, a prosperous, well-functioning democratic society welcomes partnerships that are collaborative, cooperative, and collegial.
At the government level, the Summit can reinvigorate and enhance the goals of other multilateral venues. Partnering with civil society is critical in achieving Summit goals as we turn to leaders and experts on-the-ground so that government pledges positively impact societies at the citizen level. By tapping into the strength of the private sector, countries can partner on innovative and impactful initiatives to address the core themes.
Q: Why were some countries invited to the first Summit while other countries were not invited?
The United States reached out to a regionally diverse set of well-established and younger democracies whose progress and commitments will advance a more just and peaceful world.
Our goal is to be as inclusive as possible. We are working to ensure that all relevant voices and viewpoints feed into the Summit process.
We will continue engaging with Summit participants and other governments around the world to counter democratic backsliding, promote respect for human rights, and fight corruption both at home and abroad – whether that work occurs within or outside of the Summit framework.
We seek to engage any and all countries that show a genuine willingness in making commitments that support the Summit’s goals.