As Russia attacks Ukraine and China begins a diplomatic offensive, the United States seeks a unified front against authoritarianism as it kicks off its second Summit for Democracy on Tuesday.
Following his predecessor Donald Trump’s erosion of democratic norms and the attack on the Capitol, President Joe Biden entered office promising to champion democracy. In his first year in office, he launched the inaugural summit, which aimed to reaffirm US leadership.
Biden has chosen co-hosts from each continent this time around, including the presidents of Zambia, Costa Rica, and South Korea as well as the prime minister of the Netherlands, in response to criticism that the first iteration focused too much on US introspection.
He has called 121 leaders in total, eight more than in 2021, for the three-day Democracy Summit that will take place primarily online.
Threats to democracy are changing from being viewed as an important problem, albeit a somewhat slow-moving threat, to one that is both important and urgent, according to Marti Flacks, head of the human rights initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. This is why the summit is taking place at this time.
Civil society representatives will participate in the sessions to discuss a variety of issues that threaten democracy, such as surveillance technology, which the United States views as an increasing threat as China makes rapid technological advancements.
It is crucial that the administration engages bilaterally with other nations and businesses on voluntary actions that can be taken in the interim, according to Flacks, in the absence of any impending legislative action in that area.
Five of the nations that were invited after being ignored for the Democracy Summit in 2021 are in Africa. These nations are The Gambia, Mauritania, Mozambique, Tanzania, where President Samia Suluhu Hassan has pledged to bring back competitive politics, and the Ivory Coast, where tensions have decreased since the peaceful completion of the 2021 elections.