Official Events

All times are listed in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) unless otherwise indicated. 

March 28, 2023: Thematic Day

On Tuesday, March 28, the U.S. Government hosted a variety of Cabinet- and Sub-Cabinet- level thematic events to spotlight key Summit themes. These included:

Partnering for Democracy: New Approaches for Reform 

9:00 am-4:45 pm – The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) hosted a full-day, four-session event, led by Administrator Samantha Power, that highlighted new approaches and partnerships that strengthen democracy, human rights, and governance. The first session highlighted USAID and our partners’ efforts to surge resources to reformers during democratic openings. Session two featured USAID’s new People Centered Justice (PCJ) approach to Rule of Law programming, and highlighted the Rule of Law and People Centered Justice Multistakeholder Cohort’s Declaration and Call to Action. Session three identified new approaches to addressing inequality and building trust in societies. Session four focused on the work of the USG-led Financial Transparency and Integrity (FTI) Multistakeholder Cohort, including launching the Cohort’s Pledge and Call to Action, and highlighted how USAID is modernizing its support to anti-corruption reformers.

A Just and Lasting Peace in Ukraine 

9:00 am-10:00 am – The U.S. Department of State hosted a panel session, chaired by Secretary Antony Blinken, about the need for a Just and Lasting Peace in Ukraine. The virtual gathering featured the Foreign Minister of Ukraine, Dmytro Kuleba, discussing President Volodymyr Zelenskyy’s vision for a just and lasting peace, alongside Foreign Ministers from a regionally diverse group of countries. This gathering provided an opportunity to hear various perspectives on the elements needed to end Russia’s war and establish a durable peace in Ukraine in line with principles contained in the UN Charter.

The Complex Path to Achieving Democratic Dividends 

10:00 am-11:30 am – The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) co-hosted a panel session to examine the linkages between democracy, economic growth, and poverty reduction. The session, chaired by MCC CEO Alice Albright and NED Chairman Kenneth Wollack, explored the challenges that democracies and aspiring democracies face in responding to citizens’ needs, and how MCC and the NED provide support to bolster institutions and build resilience around democracy and economic growth. The session highlighted experiences from Cote d’Ivoire and The Gambia, where both MCC and NED have been working to help governments meet citizen’s needs, with participation by the governments of each country and prominent civil society representatives.

A Conversation with Deputy U.S. Attorney General Lisa Monaco on Defending the Rule of Law against Hostile Nation States 

10:30 am-11:30 am – At the Council on Foreign Relations, Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco discussed how the U.S. Department of Justice is countering new and evolving threats to the rule of law posed by hostile nation states, from transnational repression to foreign malign influence.

Anti-Corruption as a Cornerstone of a Fair, Accountable, and Democratic Economy 

10:30 am-12:00 pm – The U.S. Department of the Treasury hosted an event , chaired by Secretary Janet Yellen, which brought together leaders from government, civil society, and international organizations to discuss the efforts to counter corruption and illicit finance in order to uphold the rule of law, promote good governance, and ensure an equal economic playing field.

Strengthening Unions, Safeguarding Democracy 

11:30 am-1:00 pm – The U.S. Department of Labor hosted a session to elevate the role of labor movements as drivers of democracy and essential components of democratic societies. Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy and Human Rights Uzra Zeya gave a keynote address highlighting labor related achievements throughout the Summit’s Year of Action. Government and labor representatives highlighted country cases and approaches of labor movements defending, reclaiming, and expanding democratic space, with an emphasis on the responsibilities of governments to protect and hold space for democratic labor movements.

The Status of Women is the Status of Democracy 

1:00 pm-2:30 pm – The U.S. Department of State hosted an event, chaired by Secretary Antony Blinken, that built directly on the December 2021 Summit for Democracy event “Empowering Prosperity: Advancing Women to Advance the Status of Democracy.” This gathering highlighted the imperative of gender equity and equality to democratic, rights-based societies and the universal importance of women’s civic and political participation, as well as underscored one of the biggest barriers women and girls face: online harassment and abuse. The event showcased the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse, a 12-country initiative and commitment announced by the U.S. government at the first Summit.

  • Event Moderator: Secretary’s Office of Global Women’s Issues Senior Official Kat Fotovat
  • Opening Remarks: Assistant to the President and Director of the White House Gender Policy Council Jennifer Klein
  • Keynote: Secretary of State Antony Blinken
  • Pre-Recorded Remarks:
    • President Nataša Pirc Musar of Slovenia
    • Minister of Foreign Affairs, European Affairs and Foreign Trade and the Federal Cultural Institutions Hadja Lahbib of Belgium
    • Minister for Foreign Affairs Lars Løkke Rasmussen of Denmark
  • Panel One: Advancing Women’s Political and Civic Participation
    • Moderator: USAID Deputy Administrator Isobel Coleman
    • Speakers:
      • Ambassador for Gender Equality Sofia Calltorp of Sweden
      • Inter-American Commission of Women Executive Secretary Alejandra Mora Mora
      • Search for Common Ground CEO Shamil Idriss
  • Panel Two: Collective Actions to Counter Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse
    • Moderator: National Democratic Institute Director of Gender, Women and Democracy Sandra Pepera
    • Speakers:
      • U.S. Special Representative for Racial Equity and Justice Desirée Cormier Smith
      • Former MP Phumzile Van Damme of South Africa
      • #ShePersisted Co-Founder Kristina Wilfore

The 2023 Forum on Business and Democracy 

8:30 am-12:30 pm Deputy Secretary of Commerce Don Graves represented the U.S. government at a Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)-hosted half-day Forum spotlighting the importance of the private sector to democracy and the commitments that companies are making to advance it. This official Summit side event featured senior government officials, corporate executives, and civil society leaders, who spoke to the influence companies can have on democratic resilience through their business practices, corporate leadership, and engagement with workers, communities, and other stakeholders. Building on the Summit’s themes of countering authoritarianism, combating corruption, and promoting human rights, and in alignment with the State Department’s February 3 Call to the Private Sector to Advance Democracy, the Forum focused on how forward-thinking private sector leaders are strengthening democracy around the world, including by: countering the misuse of technology, fighting corruption, protecting civic space, and advancing labor rights.

Confronting Hate: Tackling Hate-Fueled Violence as a Threat to Democracy—A Summit for Democracy-Associated Event 

1:30 pm-2:30 pm – Georgetown University hosted a conversation on how hate-fueled violence presents a threat to democracy and what governments can do to respond. Homeland Security Advisor Liz Sherwood-Randall and Deputy Homeland Security Advisor Joshua Geltzer were joined by former Secretary of Homeland Security Jeh Johnson and Executive Director of Georgetown Law’s Institute for Constitutional Advocacy and Protection Mary McCord for a discussion moderated by Georgetown School of Foreign Service Professor Bruce Hoffman. The conversation assessed the state of the threat to democracy posed by hate-fueled violence and explored how the U.S. Government has responded, including through its issuance of the first-ever National Strategy for Countering Domestic Terrorism, its convening of the United We Stand Summit , and its development of a national strategy for addressing anti-Semitism. The discussion looked ahead to the evolution of the threat in years to come and drew lessons from America’s response for other democracies confronting similar challenges.

March 29, 2023: Plenary Day

Watch the Plenary Day Event Video (English) 
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Watch the National Statements Video (English) 
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On Wednesday, March 29, the Summit for Democracy’s five co-hosts — the United States, Costa Rica, Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and Zambia — officially kicked off the Summit, with each co-host leader hosting a live, fully virtual, thematic, Leader-level plenary session. Plenaries were interspersed with “spotlight interventions” by leading activists and civil society figures.

6:00 am – Joint Opening Remarks

  • President Joseph R. Biden of the United States, President Rodrigo Chaves Robles of Costa Rica, President Hakainde Hichilema of the Republic of Zambia, Prime Minister Mark Rutte of the Netherlands, and President Yoon Suk Yeol of the Republic of Korea
  • Remarks by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres

6:10 amLeader-level Plenary on Democracy Delivering Economic Growth and Shared Prosperity

  • Hosted by President Yoon, Republic of Korea
  • Speakers:
    • Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis of Greece
    • Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India
    • President José Ramos-Horta of Timor-Leste
    • Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni of Italy
    • President William Ruto of Kenya
    • President Mokgweetsi Masisi of Botswana
    • Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel
    • Prime Minister Andrej Plenković of Croatia

7:30 am – Spotlight Interventions by civil society groups and figures

  • Global Democracy Coalition – Voices of Democracy
  • Jewher Ilham, Worker Rights Consortium, Uyghur rights advocate

7:40 am – Leader-level Plenary on Democracy Delivering Justice for All

  • Hosted by Prime Minister Rutte, Netherlands
  •  Speakers:
    • Prime Minister Kishida Fumio of Japan
    • Prime Minister Mohammed S. Al-Sudani of Iraq
    • Prime Minister Ulisses Correia e Silva of Cabo Verde
    • President Egils Levits of Latvia
    • President Adama Barrow of The Gambia
    • President Luis Lacalle Pou of Uruguay

9:00 am – Spotlight Interventions by civil society groups and figures

  • Democracy Cohorts: Civil Society Declaration of Principles
  • Bryan Stevenson, Executive Director, Equal Justice Initiative

9:10 am – Leader-level Plenary on Democracy Delivering Strong Institutions

  • Hosted by President Hichilema, Zambia
  • Speakers:
    • Prime Minister Ulf Kristersson of Sweden
    • Prime Minister Rishi Sunak of the United Kingdom
    • Prime Minister Philip Davis of The Bahamas
    • Chancellor Olaf Scholz of Germany
    • President Vjosa Osmani of Kosovo
    • President Gustavo Petro of Colombia
    • President Emmanuel Macron of France
    • Prime Minister Katrín Jakobsdóttir of Iceland

11:15 am Spotlight Interventions by leading civil society groups and figures

  • Global Democracy Coalition – Driving Democracy Forward
  • Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya, leader of the democratic opposition, and Natalia Pinchuk, wife of imprisoned Nobel Laureate Ales Bialiatski, Belarus.

11:30 am – Leader-level Plenary on Democracy Delivering on Global Challenges

  • Hosted by President Biden, United States
  • Speakers:
    • President Zuzana Čaputová of Slovakia
    • President Lazarus McCarthy Chakwera of Malawi
    • President Volodymyr Zelenskyy of Ukraine
    • President Guillermo Lasso Mendoza of Ecuador
    • President Maia Sandu of Moldova
    • President Mohamed Bazoum of Niger
    • Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen of Denmark
    • President Laurentino Cortizo Cohen of Panama

12:50 pm Spotlight Interventions by leading civil society figures

  • Feliciano Reyna, Executive President, Acción Solidaria, Venezuela
  • Lesther Aleman, youth leader and former political prisoner, Nicaragua

1:00 pm – Leader-level Plenary on Democracy Delivering Inclusion and Equality

  • Hosted by President Chaves, Costa Rica
  • Speakers:
    • Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal of Nepal
    • President Sauli Niinistö of Finland
    • President Ursula von der Leyen of the European Commission
    • President Gitanas Nausėda of Lithuania
    • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada
    • President Macky Sall of Senegal
    • Prime Minister Kaja Kallas of Estonia
    • President Andrés Manuel López Obrador of Mexico

March 30, 2023: Co-Host Event Day

On March 30, each of the Summit for Democracy’s five co-host countries led an in-person or hybrid regional gathering on a core Summit theme with representatives from government, civil society, and the private sector.

United States: Advancing Technology for Democracy 

Read the White House Fact Sheet “Advancing Technology for Democracy”  

Watch the Video (English) 
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12:30 pm-5:45 pm – The United States Government believes that to advance technology for democracy, democracies must highlight what they stand for – an affirmative, cogent, values-driven, and rights-respecting vision for freedom and democracy in the digital era – and they must stand against the misuse of technology to repress, control, divide, and disenfranchise and the spread of digital authoritarianism. It is also imperative to focus not only on today’s technologies but to shape the ecosystem of emerging technologies in line with democratic principles and human rights. This U.S. government-hosted event featured several sessions dedicated to these three themes.

Opening RemarksAntony Blinken – U.S. Secretary of State

Session 1: Advancing Democracy and Internet Freedom in a Digital Age


  • Antony Blinken – U.S. Secretary of State (moderator)
  • Samantha Power – USAID Administrator
  • Jorge Argüello – Ambassador to the United States, Argentina
  • Nighat Dad – Executive Director, Digital Rights Foundation
  • Funke Opeke – CEO and Founder, Main One

Session 2: Countering the Misuse of Technology and the Rise of Digital Authoritarianism


  • Alejandro N. Mayorkas – U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security
  • Avril Haines – U.S. Director of National Intelligence
  • John Scott-Railton, Senior Researcher, Citizen Lab, University of Toronto
  • Neal Mohan – CEO of YouTube, Google
  • Marietje Schaake – Stanford University (moderator)

Fireside Chat:

  • Jim Himes – U.S. Representative (D-CT) and Ranking Member of the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence
  • Olivia Gazis – Intelligence and National Security Reporter, CBS News (moderator)

Video: Taiwan Minister of Digital Affairs Audrey Tang

Session 3: Shaping Emerging Technologies to Ensure Respect for Human Rights and Democratic Principles


  • Arati Prabhakar – Assistant to the President for Science and Technology and Director, Office of Science and Technology Policy, White House
  • Margrethe VestagerExecutive Vice President of the European Commission for A Europe Fit for the Digital Age, European Commission
  • Maria Paz Canales – Global Partners Digital, Co-founder of Derechos Digitales
  • Dario Amodei – CEO and Co-founder, Anthropic
  • Alexandra Reeve Givens – President, Center for Democracy and Technology (moderator)

Remarks – Bob Menendez – Senator (D-NJ) and Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Closing RemarksAntony Blinken – U.S. Secretary of State

Costa Rica: Promoting the Role of Youth in Political and Democratic Spaces 

10:00 am-8:00 pm – Younger persons are increasingly targeted by the media, political parties, and social networks as drivers of change in the political life of their countries. It is essential for democracies to empower younger populations and guard against disinformation and political radicalization, in order to promote the full and responsible exercise of their human rights and freedoms.

The events of the Summit for Democracy in Costa Rica focused on youth and the role of the younger population in democratic systems. These events focused on the work of civil society and international organizations promoting the participation of youth in the advocacy and development of democracy in their own countries. Following 14 side events happening in the week of March 27, Costa Rica’s Week of Democracy culminated in a roundtable with high-ranking government officials from across the hemisphere. For the opening of this event, President Rodrigo Chaves was joined by the Presidents of the other three branches of Government in Costa Rica: Legislative, Judicial and Electoral, as well as the Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Worship, Arnoldo André, and of Culture and Youth, Nayuribe Guadamuz.

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield led the U.S. Delegation to Costa Rica.

The Netherlands: Media Freedom as a Cornerstone of Democracy 

9:00 am-12:00 pm – Over the past five years, 85 percent of the world’s population experienced a decline in press freedom. Media freedom has also been deteriorating in the larger European region. This is an alarming development, as freedom of expression and media freedom are a precondition for a well-functioning democracy and a free society. Media freedom and access to independent information are particularly vital, where human rights, democracy, and the rule of law are under pressure; they can never be taken for granted and requires constant attention and commitment in every country.

The Netherlands hosted a multi-stakeholder “talk show” event gathering representatives from the European region, civil society, human rights defenders, journalists’ organizations, the private sector and youth to discuss concrete suggestions and solutions to challenges to media freedom. The event provided a space for discussion on media freedom as a pillar of democracy in the broader European region. Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, Wopke Hoekstra, opened the event with high level contributions from government and civil society.

The event featured five thematic segments: (1) Media Freedom and Democracy; (2) Protecting Journalists’ Safety and Security; (3) Freedom of Expression Online; (4) Bolstering Free, Diverse & Independent Media; (5) Closing – The Way Forward.

U.S. Agency for Global Media (USAGM) CEO Amanda Bennett led the in-person U.S. Delegation to the Netherlands, with virtual participation from USAID Administrator Samantha Power.

The Republic of Korea: Challenges and Progress in Addressing Corruption 

8:00 pm-5:20am EDT / 9:00 am-6:20 pm KST – Corruption poses threats to the stability and security of societies, undermining the institutions and values of democracy, ethical values and justice, and jeopardizing sustainable development and rule of law. While progress in preventing and combating corruption has been made, we commit to doing more to address remaining gaps and emerging challenges.

The Korean government’s event started with statements from leaders and ministers in the Indo-Pacific region, with their proposals and commitments for promoting democracy and addressing corruption.

Four sessions followed, focused on four main themes of importance to anti-corruption efforts: (1) International Cooperation for Anti-Corruption; (2) Financial Transparency and Integrity; (3) Non-governmental Stakeholders; and (4) Technology and Anti-corruption.

The regional meeting included a youth side event, where young people who are making important contributions to anti-corruption efforts worldwide shared their experiences. There was also an exhibition displaying the work of the finalists from a Video and Fine Arts competition.

U.S. Trade Representative Ambassador Katherine Tai led the U.S. Delegation to the Republic of Korea.

The Republic of Zambia: Free, Fair, and Transparent Elections as the Foundation of Democratic Governance 

2:30am-11:30am EDT / 8:30 am-5:30 pm CST – While democracy requires more than credible elections, they shape public perception of democracy’s efficacy and are vital for expressing the will of the people. The integrity of a country’s elections – in other words, the degree to which they conform to international standards governing the appropriate conduct of elections – is important for government legitimacy, as well as domestic and international support. The Summit for Democracy event in Zambia highlighted the many electoral stakeholders contributing to electoral integrity and explore how elections on the African continent have changed in recent years.

The meeting opened with remarks from President Hakainde Hichilema. Selected countries had the opportunity to deliver short presentations on the electoral process in their respective countries. These presentations also included any electoral reforms they have instituted to ensure free, fair, and transparent elections. Zambia also highlighted some of the electoral reforms instituted under the 2021 General Elections.

The Government of Zambia’s event featured five panel discussions on: (1) Ensuring Electoral Integrity on the African Continent, (2) Inclusive Participation of Women, Youth, and Persons with Disabilities in Electoral Processes, (3) Freedom of Expression: The Role of the Media and Civil Society in Promoting Transparent and Credible Elections, (4) Transparency in Political Party Financing, and (5) The Independence of Electoral Management Bodies and Their Importance in Free, Fair, and Credible Elections.

The summit was officially closed by Her Honor the Vice-President Mutale Nalumango.

U.S. Secretary of Education Dr. Miguel A. Cardona led the U.S. Delegation to Zambia.

Official Interventions

Participating delegations shared their vision for strengthening democracy through Summit for Democracy Official Interventions, linked below:

Additional Events

All times are listed in Eastern Daylight Time (EDT) unless otherwise indicated.

Tech for Democracy and Media Freedom: Protecting the Truth Tellers in the 21st Century [172 KB]

March 28 at 5:00 p.m. – As the United States and over 100 partner governments met at the second Summit for Democracy to highlight steps they have taken over the past year to build more resilient democracies, one of the bodies advising them – the High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom – came to Georgetown Law, with special guests, to discuss their work and their advice to those governments. This event, “Tech for Democracy and Media Freedom: Protecting the Truth Tellers in the 21st century,” focused on protective measures rooted in international law that states can take in the face of the rise in the physical and digital threats to journalists’ safety and the restrictions on their work.

Promoting Equitable Gender Norms to Foster Democratic Resilience

March 24 at 10:00 a.m. – On Friday, March 24, ahead of the 2023 Summit for Democracy, Second Gentleman Douglas Emhoff delivered remarks at Georgetown University’s “Promoting Equitable Gender Norms to Foster Democratic Resilience” event. The event was co-hosted by the Georgetown Institute for Women, Peace and Security, the governments of Sweden and Romania, and International IDEA. In his remarks, the Second Gentleman discussed the importance of advancing women’s political participation and leadership around the world.

The Global Fragility Act and the Importance of Citizen-Centered Governance and Democracy

March 27 at 9:00 a.m. – The National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the International Republican Institute (IRI) co-sponsored a two-part panel on the Global Fragility Act on the margins of the Summit for Democracy. The event focused on reinforcing the importance of democracy for the success of the GFA, and the importance of the GFA for global democratic renewal. Opening remarks were delivered by Uzra Zeya, Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights and Robert Jenkins, Assistant to the Administrator for the Bureau for Conflict Prevention and Stabilization (CPS).

Summit for Democracy II – Legislative Track 

March 28 at 8:30 am – The House Democracy Partnership (HDP), a bipartisan Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives, works with parliaments around the world to support the development of effective, independent, and responsive legislatures. HDP organized the Legislative Track of the Summit, convening more than 50 senior-level Members of Parliament from about 25 countries around the world in DC to engage with one another, but also with their counterparts on Capitol Hill. On this kick-off day, HDP highlighted the role of legislatures as the vanguard of democratic renewal efforts. Conversations and sessions showcased how the legislature can take a leading role in democratic resilience and delivering democracy for their constituents. Furthermore, panels included reflections on how to counter corruption to ensure that institutions at all levels of government are fulfilling their responsibilities to citizens rather than enriching kleptocrats. The sessions will seek to draw upon the experiences of legislators to highlight successes, challenges, and roadblocks to find areas of cooperation. Participants include U.S. Members of both the House and Senate, the White House, and the international delegation.

Justice, Accountability, and Sustained Momentum for Democracy: Shoring Up Democratic Norms in Countries Facing Conflict and Authoritarianism

March 28 at 9:30 amHosted by the U.S. Department of State and U.S. Institute of Peace – Justice institutions—both formal and transitional—are critical for maintaining a state’s commitment to democratic principles when threatened by authoritarianism and conflict. These institutions provide spaces for the public, victims, and survivors to have their grievances heard, and to seek remedies and hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes. In Colombia, The Gambia, and Ukraine, justice institutions have shed light on abuses of civilian populations and have helped set their countries on a path toward accountability for perpetrators and justice for victims and survivors. This conversation on how formal and transitional justice mechanisms have created sustained momentum for democracy included renowned civil society activists who have worked to make peace processes more inclusive of, and available to, vulnerable populations as they seek to address the full breadth of harms suffered by civilian populations.

Building Democracy from the Ground Up: The Global Declaration of Mayors for Democracy 

March 28 at 10:00 am – The U.S. Department of State and USAID co-sponsored a virtual event centered around the Global Declaration of Mayors for Democracy. The event showcased the role of cities and subnational governments in the affirmation of democratic values and renewal of democracy worldwide.

Moderated By: Ambassador Nina Hachigian, Special Representative for City and State Diplomacy, U.S. Department of State.

Special Guest: The Honorable Vitali Klitschko, Mayor of Kyiv, Ukraine

Panel Members:

  • The Honorable Femke Halsema, Mayor of Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • The Honorable Tishaura Jones, Mayor of St. Louis, USA
  • The Honorable Rohey Malick Lowe, Lord Mayor of Banjul, The Gambia
  • The Honorable José Rojas Méndez, Mayor of Buenos Aires Cantón, Costa Rica
  • The Honorable Oh Se-hoon, Mayor of Seoul, The Republic of Korea

Summit for Democracy II – Legislative Track 

March 29 at 10:00 am – The House Democracy Partnership (HDP), a bipartisan Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives, works with parliaments around the world to support the development of effective, independent, and responsive legislatures. HDP organized the Legislative Track of the Summit, convening more than 50 senior-level Members of Parliament from about 25 countries around the world in DC to engage with one another, but also with their counterparts on Capitol Hill.  This full day of panel discussions brought Members of Parliament from across the world together with their counterparts in the U.S. Congress to build and strengthen relationships between legislators and to discuss topics of democratic renewal. Sessions advanced the conversations on a range of topics and summit ideals including cross-party collaboration, inclusivity in the legislative process, improving citizen access to parliament (through technology and other means), and upholding free and fair elections. Through these moderated panel discussions and sharing of experiences, members were able to navigate collectively the challenges their institutions face and seek collective solutions to address challenges to democratic norms in government. Participants included U.S. Members of both the House and Senate, the White House, and the international delegation.

Amplifying the Voices of Workers to Safeguard Democracy in Africa 

March 30 at 2:30 a.m. – Co-hosted by the Multilateral Partnership for Organizing, Worker Empowerment, and Rights (M-POWER)* and the Zambian Congress of Trade Unions, this all-day official side event centered on the critical roles unions play in safeguarding democracy. Thea Lee, Deputy Undersecretary for International Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor, offered opening remarks by video. Sessions featuring labor leaders from Southern Africa explored:

  • Declining Labor and Human Rights Standards on the African Continent
  • The Role of Workers in Democracy and Governance in Africa
  • How Workers Can Strengthen Democracy Through Elimination of State Capture and Corruption in Africa
  • Youth and Women Workers’ Participation in Democratic Governance

Lisa Peterson, Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. State Department, delivered a closing statement.

* The Multilateral Partnership for Organizing, Worker Empowerment and Rights (M-POWER) is a historic global initiative focused on ensuring working families thrive in the global economy and elevating the role of trade unions and organized workers as essential to advancing democracy. It includes steering committee members from governments, philanthropy and labor organizations, including the AFL-CIO, Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU), International Domestic Workers Federation (IDWF) and International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC); the governments of Argentina, Canada, Spain and the United States; and Funders Organized for Rights in the Global Economy (FORGE).

Register for Amplifying the Voices of Workers to Safeguard Democracy in Africa 

Recordings of the event sessions will be posted to YouTube: @solidaritycenter809

Summit for Democracy II – Legislative Track 

March 30 at 9:00 am – The House Democracy Partnership (HDP), a bipartisan Commission of the U.S. House of Representatives, works with parliaments around the world to support the development of effective, independent, and responsive legislatures. HDP organized the Legislative Track of the Summit, convening more than 50 senior-level Members of Parliament from about 25 countries around the world in DC to engage with one another, but also with their counterparts on Capitol Hill. The final day of the Legislative Track events for the Summit for Democracy, these sessions included conversations on approaches to development and good governance, legislative diplomacy and peer learning in foreign assistance, as well as highlighted the role legislatures must pursue in advancing democratic norms and values. These conversations were a prospective look on the ecosystem of governance work and how legislatures across the world can lead in the development of democratic processes in their institutions and across their governments. Speakers included Members of Parliament from selected HDP partners, former members of the HDP commission, and NED president Damon Wilson.

Recognizing and Encouraging the Protection of the Rights of Workers and Persons with Disabilities 

March 30 at 10:00 am – In Fiscal Year 2023, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), added an Employment Opportunity indicator focused on worker rights and disability rights to its annual country scorecards. On March 30, MCC’s Vice President for the Department of Policy and Evaluation, Alicia Phillips Mandaville, chaired an event that brought together organizations working on disability rights, labor rights, and democracy to discuss MCC’s unique model, the new indicator, and how the scorecard can be leveraged to encourage important reforms in these areas. The event included remarks from UCLA’s WORLD Policy Analysis Center, who produces the data on disability rights and workplace discrimination that inform this indicator.


Social Media Call to Action

USAID and the Department of State invite you to lend your own voice to the discussions around the Summit and share how freedom powers democracies that are rising to the moment to solve the world’s most pressing challenges and makes it possible for all people to live better lives.

We invite you to create your own story via a 45 second to 2 minute video employing pictures, images, illustrations or a written story, and post it to your social media using the hashtag: #SummitForDemocracy.

Some sample prompts are below for your consideration. Please feel free to consider one, or all, or modify as you see fit:

  • Why does democracy matter to you?
  • What has democracy made possible in your own life?
  • How do free people ensure their democracies protect the environment, enable economic prosperity for all and support a healthy and food secure world?

We hope you will use this opportunity – before, during and after the Summit – to share your own stories about how or why freedom and democracy matter in your life and your community, and in addressing our shared challenges. Please post on your Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram social media platforms with the hashtag #SummitForDemocracy.

*Your online safety and security is important. Please take measures to keep yourself safe online, including removing geotags from photos and videos and avoid tagging locations for videos and on your posts.

Civil Society-Led Events

A wide range of events took place around the Summit for Democracy that were not part of the official program. Accountability Lab created an unofficial website  for civil society interested in expanding on the topics of the Summit. Additionally, the Global Democracy Coalition convened a Partners Day  on March 27 to organize civil society and other non-governmental events. Neither websites are official Summit webpages nor are their contents endorsed by the United States Government.

The Challenge to Democracies

Democracy and human rights are under threat around the world. Democracies — whether in transition or established for decades — are confronting serious challenges from within and outside of their borders. Public distrust and the failure of governments to deliver equitable and sustainable economic and political progress has fueled political polarization and the rise of leaders who are undermining democratic norms and institutions. Across the globe, weak state capacity, tenuous rule of law, high inequality, and corruption continue to erode democracy. At the same time, authoritarian leaders are reaching across borders to undermine democracies — from targeting journalists and human rights defenders to meddling in elections — all while sowing disinformation to claim their model is better at delivering for people. Hostile actors exacerbate these trends by increasingly manipulating digital information and spreading disinformation to weaken democratic cohesion.

As President Biden has said, we have to prove democracy still works and can improve people’s lives in tangible ways. To do that, democracies have to come together — to rejuvenate and improve our open, rights-respecting societies from within; to stand together in defending against threats from autocracies; and to show we can address the most pressing crises of our time. The Summit will provide an opportunity to reflect, listen, and learn, as well as to plan and act, so that we can build a shared foundation for global democratic renewal.

Students taking a selfie as they sit in a large room with rows of seats.Ukrainian school students participate in a June 2019 opening ceremony of a USAID-supported Parliamentary Education Center.
(Photo by: Press Service of the Verkhovna Rada of Ukraine, Andrii Nesterenko, licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0)

U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future