Thank you for inviting me to address you today. I want to acknowledge Anders Fogh Rasmussen for his leadership on this initiative.
Around the world, democracies are coming together to face emerging threats and address modern-day challenges. While we have all read the reports chronicling democratic decline and the negative effects of authoritarian regimes, I am here to reaffirm that democracies matter and can deliver, especially when we work together.
A newly released survey conducted by the Edelman Trust Barometer provided us with some good news and momentum on our efforts to advance democracy and safeguard human rights. This survey revealed that people in the United States, U.K., Germany, and France reported notably higher levels of confidence in their democratic institutions in May compared to January 2022.
This should give us all some encouragement about our collective efforts to counter authoritarianism and its ill-effects on the world. It may be hard to have optimism about democracy as we witness the grave consequences of unchecked power and the purge of dissenting voices. Vladimir Putin’s premeditated, unprovoked, and unjustified war of aggression against Ukraine and brutal crackdown on civil society and media within Russia are unconscionable. Russia’s actions seek to destabilize an entire continent and pose a threat to our post-World War II international order.
However, we are not idle bystanders. In an unprecedented show of solidarity, the global community has moved boldly and quickly to meet Ukraine’s defensive and humanitarian needs. Also, we have come together to isolate Putin and his cronies by holding them accountable for their unjustified war and human rights abuses.
Much of this work is being led by governments across the world who came together in President Biden’s historic Summit for Democracy. Together, we are supporting the millions of individuals displaced within Ukraine or made refugees by Putin’s war of choice. Additionally, many Summit participants are documenting atrocities and human rights abuses to promote accountability of perpetrators.
Today, Russia is more politically isolated than ever before. In the 47-member UN Human Rights Council, only Eritrea joined Russia in voting against a new Commission of Inquiry that will document the ongoing violations of human rights and international humanitarian law in Ukraine. Building on this milestone, we will use every tool available to hold the Russian government, its enablers in Belarus, and Russian oligarchs who have profited from Russia’s corrupt and violent regime, accountable.
As we work together to support Ukraine, the global community continues its efforts to safeguard democracies around the world. One way we are doing this is through the 700+ Summit for Democracy commitments made by governments. Through different engagements during this Year of Action, governments, along with civil society and the private sector are joining forces to discuss, review, and implement Summit pledges.
Thus far, Kosovo has created a Presidential Council on Democracy and Human Rights, Norway and Ghana have supported the Global Disability Forum, Estonia held a Global Conference on Media Freedom, Belgium launched a public survey on the organization of the government, and Botswana will host a regional democracy summit in July.
Moreover, the U.S. Government is pursuing the commitments we made in the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal. As part of this effort, we are supporting programs, initiatives, and organizations focused on advancing technology and democracy, bolstering democratic reformers, fighting corruption, defending free and fair elections and political processes as well as supporting free and independent media.
In addition to pursuing our efforts, we have also engaged with partners and allies to bolster the work of multi-donor consortia and coalitions such as the Media Freedom Coalition and Global Anticorruption Consortium.
This Copenhagen Summit exemplifies what was envisioned for the Year of Action. Bringing together governments, civil society, and private sector, not to admire the problem, but to act with urgency to develop and execute solutions.
As I mentioned at the top of my remarks – this work is not easy. In virtually every corner of the world, journalists and civil society actors are under assault. Even governments are targeted and maligned for supporting other democracies. But as we have seen this year, together we are stronger. Thank you for your engagement and support to strengthen democracies around the world. Let’s maintain the momentum of our Summit for Democracy and this Summit gathering to continue to put words into action and showcase how democracies deliver for their citizens.