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Summit for Democracy 2021 – taking stock one month later

 

This article provides data and initial analysis of the (verbal) country statements made at the Summit for Democracy held in December 2021. It was conducted by coding the written transcripts of the official statements made by countries attending the virtual Summit. It is aimed as a resource for civil society and other actors to aid in their advocacy efforts as they monitor the outcomes of the Summit. This analysis is likely to change once the written country commitments have been made public by the end of January 2022. The assessment does not represent the official views of International IDEA member states. Due to the effort to make this analysis and data publicly available swiftly after the Summit, there may be unintentional errors and methodological imperfections. Kindly report those or any additional information that may enrich this analysis to a.silva-leander@idea.int and e.ballestebuxo@idea.int.

 

Summary 

  • In response to the increasing challenges to democracy worldwide, the first ever global Summit for Democracy was held in December 2021, at the invitation of the United States administration. A second one is planned for the end of 2022, after a ‘year of action’, during which governments will implement their commitments and civil society and the media will monitor their progress. The Summits provide a historical opportunity to strengthen collaboration between democracies of all kinds to collectively address common challenges in the face of increasing authoritarian threats. 

 

  • While some have lauded the initiative of the Summit as a historical opportunity to strengthen democracy globally at a time of historic democratic decline, others have voiced concerns over the risk of lofty goals, unfulfilled promises and a divisive approach that risks reinforcing geopolitical rifts. 

 

  • Governments have the 2022 year of action to implement their commitments and report back on their achievements by December. 

 

  • 110 countries, in addition to the President of the European Commission and the United Nations Secretary-General were invited by the United States. 100 countries accepted the invitation and 97 plus the United States made virtual statements. Countries that did not attend were mostly from Asia (Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Timor Leste, and five Pacific Islands), and two from Africa (Seychelles and South Africa). Concerns about offending China were put forward as a reason for non-attendance by some analysts

 

  • Fewer than half of the statements referred to specific commitments. As could be expected from brief recorded video interventions, the majority of official statements included generic or no commitments (53%) and 65% of statements referred to existing reforms rather than forward-looking commitments. 

 

  • Some countries (29) stood out for presenting more specific and new commitments. However, against what some may have expected, the most ambitious ones were not necessarily made by the most advanced democracies (although some like Canada, Ireland, Luxembourg, Malta, the United States did) but also by some more recent democracies (i.e. Dominica, Dominican Republic, Kosovo) and non-democratic regimes (the Democratic Republic of the Congo). On the other hand, no articulated commitments could be discerned in statements of high-performing democracies such as Switzerland or mid-range ones such as Argentina, Lithuania and Slovenia. Some older democracies such as Denmark and Iceland left their contributions very general. It remains to be seen whether their written commitments will provide more specificity. 

 

  • Most (but not all) countries presented some form of commitment to strengthen democracy at home (89 countries or 91%). Thirty-eight countries presented commitments to strengthen democracy abroad, including several newer democracies that are not traditionally known for providing democracy assistance (i.e. Czechia, Republic of Korea and Taiwan); 32 countries made both types of commitments; 5 countries only made commitments to strengthen democracy abroad; and 9 countries promised increased funding for international democracy assistance, including some of these newer democracy assistance countries. 

 

  • Among the efforts to strengthen democracy at home, corruption came out as a first priority for most governments (51 countries), followed by efforts to promote inclusion of marginalized groups and to fight discrimination (36 countries). The issues that were least prioritized were parliaments, access to justice, public service delivery and civil society.

 

  • However, there was some mismatch between domestic and democracy abroad commitments, with media freedom topping the list of the latter, followed by efforts to fight disinformation and create a safe and inclusive digital space, combat corruption, support civil society, protect human rights and promote gender equality. The issues that were least prioritized abroad were judicial independence, access to justice, parliaments, social rights and basic welfare, and social group equality (the latter which came out among the top of domestic commitments). To achieve the greatest impact and be credible, international support needs not only to be matched by domestic efforts and political will in recipient countries, but donor countries should lead by example with domestic efforts to address critical issues at home.\

 

  • Belgium, Canada and Taiwan, which also scored high (as did the United States), in addition to Brazil and Japan, top the list of countries to have first made their written commitments publicly available within one month of Summit, 26 January 2022, these were the only countries to have done so. 

 

  • The written commitments from Canada, Taiwan and the United States are all ambitious in nature, tackling both democracy at home and abroad. However, verbal commitments that also seem promising in terms of their ambition levels at home and abroad include Estonia and the Republic of Korea. Costa Rica, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and Malta stood out for their efforts to strengthen democracy at home. 

 

  • The most ailing democracies attending the Summit—apart from the host country—did not impress with plans to tackle their democratic shortcomings. Backsliding Slovenia made no commitment at all; Brazil, India and Poland left theirs generic; while President Duterte of the Philippines stuck to promising free and fair elections in 2022.

 

  • What the Summit made clear is that, while the democratic world is diverse and contains varying democratic trajectories, newer and older democracies also face many common challenges, ranging from foreign interference in elections, disinformation and hate speech, to discrimination against minorities and women. They all stand to learn from each other in the quest for better democracy. The Summit exposed interesting democratic innovations worth of sharing with other countries—such as the youth parliament in Grenada, municipal youth councils in Colombia and anti-corruption education in Kenyan schools. The Summit’s most telling example of a more level playing field in the global democracy landscape was the world’s smallest democracy, Micronesia, urging one of the world’s largest democracies (United States) to protect its democracy by passing the Freedom to Vote Act. 

 

  • Going forward, pressure is on those 93 remaining countries that have not yet made their commitments publicly available to do so by the end of January 2022. Scrutiny will be intense over the timeliness and quality of these commitments as well as their implementation. Civil society and the media will play important roles in monitoring progress and holding governments to account on these commitments and should be invited (in addition to other stakeholders) to provide inputs and feedback on them in dialogue with governments. The accountability dimension of the Summit however raises complex questions. Who are governments accountable to for delivering on these commitments, apart from their national constituencies? The United States, other participating countries or a democratic international community outside the United Nations system? Will governments be able to deliver on reforms that may not pass parliamentary approval and will civil society have a voice in opining on their relevance? Finally, the most ambitious plans are likely to need more than a year to bear fruit. Clearly, more than two Summits for Democracy will be needed to strengthen democracy worldwide and plans should already be made for the post-2022 agenda. 

 

Introduction

On 8–10 December 2021, the Government of the United States hosted the first of two Summits for Democracy. In the face of increasing challenges to democracy globally, they aim to bring together leaders from government, civil society and the private sector to set out a global affirmative agenda for democratic renewal and provide a space for countries to make both individual and collective commitments to defend democracy and human rights at home and abroad. 

The first virtual Summit brought together participants representing governments, multilateral institutions, activists, journalists, parliamentarians, human rights defenders, mayors, business and labour leaders, and other actors essential to democracy. The Summit was divided into thematic sessions with civil society organizations, the private sector and experts, co-hosted by governments and held on ‘day 0’, covering issues such as media freedom, youth leadership, the role of the private sector, women’s civic and political leadership and gender-based violence, democracy-affirming technology, the future of the internet, and voices from political prisoners.

On the following two days, 98 of the 110 invited countries made official (verbal) statements. Participating governments were asked to submit written statements of their commitments by the end of January 2022. In parallel, panel discussions with government leaders, civil society activists and experts were held on the topics of democratic resilience and building back post-pandemic; preventing and countering corruption; expanding civic space; strengthening democracy and protecting against authoritarianism; and protecting democratic institutions, including elections, rule of law and a resilient information space. More than 275 participants from across the world and many sectors were reported to have participated in the three days of the Summit. 

 

1. Guest and attendance list: who was in, who was out?

The guest list of the Summit for Democracy was kept confidential by the United States administration until two weeks before the Summit due to its sensitive nature. A leaked list published by Politico in November 2021 and pressure from civil society and political leaders in the Balkans led to the last-minute invitation of two countries not on the initial draft list: Serbia (a backsliding democracy until 2020 when it was demoted to a hybrid regime due to its shrinking democratic space, according to International IDEA’s Global State of Democracy (GSoD) Indices 2020) and Kosovo (a mid-range democracy since it gained independence in 2008). Bosnia and Herzegovina (classified as a weak democracy according to International IDEA’s GSoD Indices 2020) did not make the final cut.

The selection criteria for invited countries were not publicly shared and the approach and selection criteria were subject to criticism, with critics arguing that geopolitical considerations rather than democratic credentials were given priority, given the poor democratic credentials of some of the countries on the guest list. Other criticisms included the risk of deepening rifts between the democratic and non-democratic world at a time when the world faces severe global challenges that need collaborative rather than divisive solutions. This last argument was put forward by China and Russia in an op-ed a few weeks before the Summit. The final count of the official guest list was the following: 

1.1. Guest list 

  • Number of countries invited. 110 countries were invited by the United States administration, in addition to the President of the European Union and the United Nations Secretary-General. 

 

  • Most, but not all of the countries invited were democracies of some kind. Of the 110 invited countries, all but five were classified as democracies (of different performance ranges) in International IDEA’s GSoD Indices 2020.  The GSoD Indices do not cover all the Pacific Island countries, although Freedom House does. If used together, 105 of the 110 invited countries were classified as democracies of some sort (and in the case of those classified by Freedom House as ‘free’) (see Excel data). The Summit guest list was thus, with some exceptions, a gathering of democracies. 

 

  • The guest list included diverse democracies of all performance ranges, ages and from all regions of the world. All the high-performing democracies (17 if including the United States), as well as 50 mid-range and 16 weak democracies were also invited. The list included both upper, middle and low-income democracies. The majority (81%) were ‘third wave democracies’, that transitioned to democracy after 1975, in addition to the 22 ‘old’ democracies. Democracies from all regions were invited, with Europe constituting the largest share (35% of the guest list). Europe is the region home to the largest percentage of democracies in the world. The Summit was thus meant to provide a space for democracies of all kinds to meet and discuss issues of common concern, broadening the discussions from the more limited G7 group, which only includes high-income democracies.

 

  • Many of the countries invited experienced democratic declines in the last five years. Many countries invited to the first Summit face challenges to their democracies, with 40% having experienced significant declines in the last five years and six more severe forms of democratic backsliding, according to International IDEA’s Global State of Democracy Indices. This includes the host country United States, as well as Brazil, India, Slovenia, the Philippines and Poland. Critics have used this to point out the inherent flaw of organizing a gathering of less than perfect democracies, hosted by a democratically challenged host. Supporters have argued that, on the contrary, this provides an opportunity for all participants to openly discuss their weaknesses and ways to address them, creating a more level playing field between older and newer democracies. 

 

  • Some democracies were left out. There were 14 democracies according to International IDEA’s GSoD Indices that were not invited to the Summit: one of the seven backsliding democracies (Hungary – the only European Union country not to be invited); two countries at high risk of democratic backsliding (El Salvador and Sri Lanka); and 11 weak and mid-range, mostly young democracies (weak: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burkina Faso, Gambia, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Madagascar, Lebanon; mid-range: Bolivia, Lesotho, Sierra Leone, Tunisia).  While several of these countries have faced challenges to their democratic progress in recent years, critics have argued that leaving them out of the Summit could send the wrong signal to countries embarking on fragile democratic transitions. 

 

  • The guest list also included some non-democratic regimes, of which some have made marked progress in recent years. The five non-democracies invited included one authoritarian regime (the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and four hybrid regimes (Angola, Niger, Serbia and Zambia). Zambia will likely be classified as a democracy in the 2021 GSoD Indices as a result of its 2021 elections. Four of these countries have had democratic advances in the past years: Angola and the Democratic Republic of the Congo are among the five non-democratic regimes with most democratic advances since 2015. Niger and Zambia held elections in 2021, of which those in Zambia were largely hailed as free and fair, while those in Niger have been described as representing an important step for democracy in the country, although marred by violence and fraud accusations. However, Serbia was downgraded to a hybrid regime in the 2020 GSoD Indices due to uncompetitive elections. While there are arguments for inviting some of these non-democratic regimes, particularly those that have not yet fully transitioned to democracy but made progress towards that goal, the reasons for including them while leaving others out has not been made clear by the Summit organizers and has been subject to criticism for its apparent lack of consistency.  

 

  • Besides 110 countries, the US Government also invited the European Union, a major global donor of democracy support. EU leaders highlighted internal measures to strengthen democracy and efforts to support its action around the world, a new Global Europe Human Rights and Democracy programme and a EUR 300 billion Global Gateway strategy for infrastructure investments.

 

1.2. Final attendees
After the official invitations to the Summit were sent in early December 2021, not all countries accepted to attend. The following was the final count: 

  • Not all countries invited attended. Thirteen of the 110 countries invited (10% of those invited) did not make official (verbal) statements: 10 from Asia Pacific (Malaysia, Mongolia, Pakistan, Timor Leste, and six Pacific Islands—Kiribati, Papua New Guinea, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Tuvalu, Vanuatu), two from Africa (Seychelles and South Africa), and Germany (due to simultaneous change of government). However, of those, Germany engaged in other parts of the Summit and Kiribati is expected to submit a written statement. No explanations for non-attendance were provided, although concerns about offending China have been touted as reasons by some analysts.

 

  • The Middle East was underrepresented. It was the least represented region with only two countries in attendance (as the region with the fewest democracies). The most represented region was Europe with 38 countries (as the region with the highest share of democracies), followed by the Americas (27). Asia Pacific had 16 countries represented (of which six were Pacific Islands) and Africa 15 (figure 1).

 

 Figure 1: Geographical distribution of countries speaking at the Summit for Democracy 2021

Source: analysis conducted by International IDEA.

 

  • Women were severely underrepresented. Only 11 out of 99 countries had women heads of state making their official statements: Barbados, Denmark, Estonia, Georgia, Iceland, Kosovo, Moldova, New Zealand, Slovakia, Sweden and Taiwan. This reflects the underrepresentation of women in political leadership globally. In 2022, only 15 countries in the world have female heads of state. 

 

 

2. What did countries promise in their statements?

 An analysis of the verbal statements made by the 98 heads of state that spoke at the Summit for Democracy shows the following: 

  • The majority (53%) of countries made general verbal statements, without going into any specific policies or reforms to strengthen democracy at home or abroad. Of these, five countries made no form of commitment (Argentina, Lithuania, Slovenia, Switzerland, and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines). 

 

  • The majority of countries also described ongoing rather than new efforts to strengthen democracy at home or abroad. More than two-thirds (65%) of countries described existing efforts in support of democracy. 

 

  • However, 46 countries made statements that contained more specific information on reforms aimed to strengthen democracy at home or abroad—and in some cases both. These included surprisingly most, but not all, high-performing democracies (countries such as Denmark and Iceland made fairly generic commitments, and no articulated commitments could be discerned in the statements of, for example, Argentina, Lithuania, Slovenia and Switzerland). And, contrary to what may have been expected, a number of more recent democracies (i.e. Grenada, Kosovo, Liberia) and non-democratic regimes (the Democratic Republic of the Congo) presented more specific reform measures to strengthen democracy at home. This was also the case for some older democracies (Belgium, Ireland, Finland and United States). Some focused on new laws, others on national strategies and plans, and others on establishment of portfolios or positions. Below are some examples.

 

Table 1. Strengthening democracy at home

Country

Example of commitments

Democratic Republic of the Congo

  • Release political prisoners and facilitate the return of politicians who have been forced into exile in other countries.
  • Schedule elections within the constitutionally established timeframes.
  • Recent appointment of team to lead national independent elections committee to ensure credible, transparent, free and fair elections.
  • Fight against corruption by strengthening the directorate general of finance.

Malta

  • A national strategy and national action plan against racism and xenophobia.
  • New national anti-corruption strategy and action plan.
  • Bill aimed at protecting journalists and media even further and then legislation regarding threats to journalists.
  • Introduced standard operating procedures on how the police force is to deal with threats to journalists.

Costa Rica

  • Strengthen judicial independence and defend the national budget for the judicial branch.
  • Tools for prevention of violence and expansion of programme to all local governments.
  • Share this programme as best practice in other countries in the region.
  • Build a similar programme on anti-corruption.
  • Started a national pact against disinformation ahead of the electoral process.

Ireland

  • Combat all manifestations of racism and discrimination through a combination of legislation and educational measures.
  • Introduction of hate crimes bill to combat incitement to hatred and hate crime online and offline.
  • Publication of new national action plan on racism.
  • Establishment of independent statutory electoral commission to enhance and protect electoral system.
  • Established a media commission to support a strong and pluralistic media sector.
  • Review existing defamation law and the introduction of a bill to reform defamation legislation.
  • Greater societal equality through the full integration of equality concerns into budgetary process across all branches of local and national government.

Finland

  • Through the national democracy programme 2025, we aim to further strengthen our own system of representation to participation, from transparency to inclusion.

Kosovo

  • Commit to strengthen rule of law through full implementation of strategy on rule of law and a thorough vetting process that will instill integrity, impartiality, professionalism at the heart of our justice system.
  • Enacting and advancing legislation to seize illicit wealth, impose a travel ban on foreign individuals involved in serious human rights abuses, clamp down on foreign governments’ funding of our political parties, and ban public institutions from using untrusted surveillance vendors, bolster the role of women in our society by initiating proceedings to harmonize all relevant laws on gender equality to guarantee women’s rightful place in public institutions and decision-managing roles.
  • Adoption of a gender-based violence plan, to halt this epidemic through prevention and protection and increase sentences to reflect the severity of gender-based crimes.
  • Establish a presidential council on democracy and human rights that will bring together civil society to drive and monitor the implementation of commitments.

Grenada

  • Facilitating greater exposure of young people to parliamentary procedures through the youth parliament.
  • Enhancing anti-corruption measures through widespread application of a national gift registry.
  • Implement a gender-responsive approach to budgeting an agenda equality and action plan.

Belgium

  • Create a new portfolio focused on democratic renewal.
  • Launch an online participatory platform on the modernization of democratic principle in the state structure.
  • Organizing citizen panels on the future of Europe.
  • Create a transparency register to have a better view of the internal and external actors influencing the administration.

Colombia

  • Committed to increasing youth participation in the country’s institutions and have initiated a process unprecedented in Latin America in which young people can elect their representatives to the municipal youth councils.

Micronesia

  • Micronesia just signed its national anti-corruption strategy.
  • Recognition of the Transparency International report on corruption in the Pacific, and commit to taking action to change people’s perceptions of corruption;
  • We have only one newspaper in our country, which has limited staff and no legal right to information from government. This is unsustainable and must change.
  • Has submitted Micronesia’s first proposed Freedom of Information Act to our Congress for their consideration and our nation is committed to its passage.

 

Table 2. Strengthening democracy abroad

Country

Example of commitments

United States

  • Provide increased funding for existing and new global initiatives such as the International Fund for Public Interest Media, a Media Viability Accelerator, a global Defamation Defense Fund for Journalists, a Journalism Protection Platform, the Empowering Anti-Corruption Change Agents Program, the Global Anti-Corruption Consortium (GACC), Combating Transnational Corruption Grand Challenge, Anti-Corruption Response Fund, Global Initiative to Galvanize the Private Sector as Partners in Combatting Corruption, Advancing Women’s and Girls’ Civic and Political Leadership Initiative, launch the Global LGBTQI+ Inclusive Democracy and Empowerment (GLIDE) Fund, support Lifeline Embattled CSO Assistance Fund, Bridging Understanding, Integrity, and Legitimacy for Democracy (BUILD) Initiative, Powered by the People initiative, Multilateral Partnership for Organizing, Worker Empowerment, and Rights (M-POWER), Partnerships for Democracy.

Republic of Korea

  • Support the International Fund for Public Interest Media.
  • Expand Overseas Development Assistance (ODA) for women’s capacity building in developing countries along with our national efforts to promote human rights.
  • Share our anti-corruption policy with the international community and globally.
  • Recognized e-government system with developing countries to promote government innovation and improve transparency.

Czech Republic

  • We will assist other countries as well in protecting the integrity of their elections.
  • We will continue to send election observers on international mission.
  • Continue in our efforts to speak out in support of civil society and support individuals and organizations under pressure, for example, through our transition programme.
  • Engagement in the Freedom Coalition and the Freedom Online Coalition.

Sweden

  • We will expand and increase our international outreach through the Drive for Democracy Initiative.

Canada (written)

  • Canada will advance digital inclusion to foster meaningful participation in society online and offline, at home and abroad, through continued implementation of Digital Charter and international partnerships, including chairing the Freedom Online Coalition in 2022, with a focus on shaping global norms, empowering multistakeholder engagement and boosting communication and outreach.
  • Canada will strengthen its role in advancing free, fair, and inclusive elections and provide increased support for election observation missions.
  • Canada will increase support for the right to freedom of expression, public interest media, and the safety of journalists, building on its role as co-chair of the Media Freedom Coalition.
  • Canada will increase support for emergency assistance programmes focused on protecting LGBTQI+ persons, religious minorities, and civil society organizations through contributions to the Global Equality Fund, the International Religious Freedom Fund and the Lifeline Embattled CSO Assistance Fund.

New Zealand

  • Commit NZD 1 million to promote anti-corruption efforts.
  • Additional contribution of 150,000 to the Global Media Defence Fund to support the efforts to enhance the safety of journalists.
  • Contributing to the International Fund for Public Interest Media to support the development of public interest media and resource in fragile settings.

 

  • A larger number of countries made statements about strengthening democracy at home (90) than abroad (37). However, 32 countries talked about strengthening democracy both at home and abroad. Those referring to their responsibility to promote democracy abroad included the old democracies that have a tradition of providing democracy assistance (Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Finland, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, United States), and also included some countries that are less known for their democracy promotion efforts, such as Costa Rica, Czechia, Estonia, and Taiwan.

 

  • Among the efforts to strengthen democracy at home, corruption came out as a first priority for most governments (51 countries), followed by efforts to promote inclusion of marginalized groups and to fight discrimination (35 countries). The issues that were least prioritized were parliaments, access to justice, public service delivery and civil society (graph 2).

 

Figure 2: Commitments to strengthen democracy at home, Summit 2021 verbal statements 

Source: analysis conducted by International IDEA.

 

  • The priorities shifted for strengthening democracy abroad, with media freedom topping the list, followed by efforts to fight disinformation and create a safe and inclusive digital space, combat corruption, support civil society, protect human rights and promote gender equality. The issues that were least prioritized were judicial independence, access to justice, parliaments, social rights and basic welfare, and social group equality (graph 3). 

 

Figure 3: Commitments to strengthen democracy abroad, Summit 2021 verbal statements

Source: analysis conducted by International IDEA.

 

  • Nine countries promised increase funding for democracy-strengthening efforts: Belgium, Canada, Estonia, France, New Zealand, the Republic of Korea Taiwan, Slovakia, United States. 
  • 22 countries committed to strengthening elections at home. These also included older democracies such as Australia, Ireland and United States. Some examples are provided below.

 

Australia – efforts to boost ability to discover, track and disrupt foreign interference in our elections. 

Costa Rica – we have started a national pact against disinformation ahead of our electoral process.

Czech Republic – protect integrity of elections from new hybrid threats and disinformation campaigns.

Democratic Republic of the Congo (hybrid regime) – commit to timetable for next elections and ensure elections with integrity through recently appointed independent electoral commission.

Dominica – to modernize and improve our electoral system, Dominica has established an electoral reform commission which is reviewing regional best practices, continuing to consult widely with and obtaining the views of citizens and stakeholders and will make appropriate recommendations.  

Ireland – we will establish an independent statutory electoral commission to enhance and protect our system in the future.

United States – ensuring compliance with voting rights laws: the Department of Justice has taken a variety of steps to help protect the right to vote, including doubling the number of voting rights attorneys, taking steps to ensure compliance with voting rights statutes, and issuing guidance on (1) the civil and criminal statutes that apply to post-election audits, (2) methods of voting, including early voting and voting by mail, and (3) the vote-dilution protections that apply to all jurisdictions under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act as they engage in redistricting. Making it easier for Americans to register to vote: federal agencies continue to robustly implement President Biden’s Executive Order on Promoting Access to Voting. 

 

 

Other issues that stood out among the statements: 

  • 16 countries mentioned the importance of combatting inequality as an important element of strengthening democracy: Costa Rica, France, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Namibia, Panama, Peru, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, and Senegal. Japan’s statement stood out for promising “a new form of capitalism that focuses on both growth and distribution”.
  • 18 countries mentioned the importance of promoting basic welfare such as health and education, as well as ensuring economic growth and opportunities: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, Bulgaria, Cabo Verde, Costa Rica, Cyprus, Dominica, Dominican Republic, Indonesia, Italy, Jamaica, Greece, Guyana, Montenegro, Nepal, Peru, and Romania. 
  • 11 countries mentioned the importance of curbing the effects of climate change as part of their priorities in strengthening democracy: Armenia, Belize, Costa Rica, Cabo Verde, Ecuador, Fiji, Iceland, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Norway, Spain. 

Some statements that stood out and worthy of noting

  • Micronesia asking the US administration to pass the Freedom to Vote Act. Shows an interesting switch in roles, with one of the smallest democracies in the world placing demands on one of the largest to strengthen its democracy.  
  • Armenia was the only country that provided quantifiable goals and indicators to reach. 
  • Australia’s commitment to the global abolition of the death penalty. 
  • Belgium will create a new portfolio focused on democratic renewal at home. The United States will create one for democratic renewal abroad.  
  • Despite its historical and unique constituent assembly process, this was not mentioned in the Chilean statement. 
  • LGBTQI+ rights were mentioned as a priority by at least five countries (Canada, Iceland, Luxembourg, Malta and United States). 
  • Interesting approaches: corruption education in Kenya, youth councils in Colombia, youth parliament in Grenada, media literacy in school curriculum in Estonia, civic education in Niger, direct democracy in Ukraine, requests for UN reform by small states (Barbados).
  • Regularization of immigrants in Ecuador.
  • Combat crime and violence: Chile and Costa Rica. 
  • Kosovo: creation of civil society council to monitor commitments. 
  • Creation of new social contracts: Chile, Panama (national dialogue), Peru asks for a new global social contract.
  • Several of the small island nations urged for a reform of the United Nations system to better reflect the current geopolitical context.  

 

​Table 3. Global initiatives supported by various countries

Global Initiative

Countries

Freedom Online Coalition

Canada, Czechia, Finland

International Fund for Public Interest Media

Estonia, France, New Zealand, Republic of Korea, United States, Taiwan

Media Freedom Coalition

Canada, Czechia, United States

Lifeline Embattled CSO Assistance Fund

Canada, Costa Rica, Estonia, Luxembourg, United States

Empowering anti-corruption change agents

United States

Global Equality Fund

Canada

Global Anti-Corruption Consortium (GACC)

United States

UNESCO Global Media Defense Fund

Estonia

Digital Public Goods Alliance

Norway

Generation Equality Campaign

Finland

 

 

This article was written by Annika Silva-Leander, Head of North America Outreach and Analysis at International IDEA. Laura Thornton, Director of the Alliance for Securing Democracy at the German Marshall  Fund, acted as an external reviewer and provided inputs and feedback. 

 

 

About the Author

Head of North America Programme
Annika Silva-Leander

Dr Annika Silva-Leander is Head of North America at International IDEA where she oversees International IDEA’s outreach in the region and its engagement in support of the Summit for Democracy.