History and common sense tell us that liberty, opportunity, and justice thrive in a democracy, not in an autocracy.
President Joseph R. Biden, Jr.
Since day one, the Biden-Harris Administration has made clear that renewing democracy in the United States and around the world is essential to meeting the unprecedented challenges of our time.
On December 9-10, 2021, President Biden held the first of two Summits for Democracy, which brought together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector in our shared effort to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and to tackle the greatest threats faced by democracies today through collective action.
The December 2021 Summit kicked off a Year of Action by participants to make democracies more responsive and resilient, and to build a broader community of partners committed to global democratic renewal. The United States and our partners are actively engaged in implementing over 750 commitments made at the first Summit.
President Biden will co-host the second Summit for Democracy with the governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, Republic of Korea, and Republic of Zambia, which will be held in March 2023. The second Summit 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. Together, we will showcase progress made by Summit partners on commitments during the Year of Action, and will organize collective action to address emerging challenges to democracy.
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.
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)