Friday, December 10, 2021

Democracy Wars II: Remarks By President Biden At The Summit For Democracy Opening Session and Video Remarks by Other Participating National Delegations


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I have been chronicling the development of a Chinese Marxist-Leninist democracy counter-narrative to the once virtually unchallenged democracy narratives aligned with liberal democratic principles (See here). Those narratives were made available as a counter dialogue to the U.S. sponsored Summit for Democracy.

The liberal democratic democracy narrative remains important, and a powerful expression of the organization and policy sensibilities  of most states in the Western Hemisphere, Europe and Australia-New Zealand. Yet it is also changing as it engages in a period of intense self reflection and internal contests for the control of its own narrative among factions.

The liberal democratic democracy narrative, their internal tensions and normative thrust were very much in evidence during the course of President Biden's Remarks that opened th Summit of the Americas.

It is reproduced below. along with links to the video recordings of interventions by participating delegations who shared their vision for strengthening democracy through Summit for Democracy Official Interventions. Interventions broadcast on Day 1 are linked below; this page will update at the conclusion of Day 2 and as additional Interventions are submitted.

Lastly also included is the Fact Sheet: Announcing the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal which suggests the focus of democracy enhancing measures, and through them the privileged principles of contemporary liberal democracy as it seeks renewal and advancement in its new era. These include (1) Supporting Free and Independent Media; (2) Fighting Corruption; (3) Bolstering Democratic Reformers; (4) Advancing Technology for Democracy; and (5) Defending Free and Fair Elections and Political Processes

Remarks By President Biden At The Summit For Democracy Opening Session

8:12 A.M. EST

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, hello everyone, and welcome to the first Summit for Democracy.

     This gathering has been on my mind for a long time for a simple reason: In the face of sustained and alarming challenges to democracy, universal human rights, and — all around the world, democracy needs champions.

     And I wanted to host this summit because here is the — here in the United States, we know as well as anyone that renewing our democracy and strengthening our democratic institutions requires constant effort.

     American democracy is an ongoing struggle to live up to our highest ideals and to heal our divisions; to recommit ourselves to the founding idea of our nation captured in our Declaration of Independence, not unlike many of your documents.

     We say: “We hold these truths to be self-evident” that all women and men are created equal, endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.

     Democracy doesn’t happen by accident.  We have to renew it with each generation.  And this is an urgent matter on all our parts, in my view.  Because the data we’re seeing is largely pointing in the wrong direction.

     Freedom House reports, in 2020, that it marked the 15th consecutive year of global freedom in retreat.

     Another recent report, from the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance, noted that more than half of all democracies have experienced a decline in at least one aspect of their democracy over the last 10 years, including the United States.

     And these trends are being exacerbated by global challenges that are more complex than ever and which require shared efforts to address these concerns:

     By outside pressure from autocrats.  They seek to advance their own power, export and expand their influence around the world, and justify their repressive policies and practices as a more efficient way to address today’s challenges.  That’s how it’s sold.

     By voices that seek to fan the flames of societal division and political polarization.

     And perhaps most importantly and worrying of all — most worrying of all, by increasing the dissatisfaction of people all around the world with democratic governments that they feel are failing to deliver for their needs.

     In my view, this is the defining challenge of our time.

     Democracy — government of the people, by the people, for the people — can at times be fragile, but it also is inherently resilient.  It’s capable of self-correction and it’s capable of self-improvement. 

     And, yes, democracy is hard.  We all know that.  It works best with consensus and cooperation.  When people and parties that might have opposing views sit down and find ways to work together, things begin to work.

     But it’s the best way to unleash human potential and defend human dignity and solve big problems.  And it’s up to us to prove that.

     Democracies are not all the same.  We don’t agree on everything, all of us in this meeting today.  But the choices we make together are going to define, in my view, the course of our shared future for generations to come.

     And as a global community for democracy, we have to stand up for the values that unite us.

     We have to stand for justice and the rule of law, for free speech, free assembly, a free press, freedom of religion, and for all the inherent human rights of every individual.

     My late friend Congressman John Lewis was a great champion of American democracy and for civil rights around the world, learning from and gaining inspiration from other great leaders like Gandhi and Mandela.

     With his final words, as he was dying, to our nation last year, he reminded our country, quote, “Democracy is not a state, it is an act.”  “Democracy is not a state, it is an act.”

     So, over the next two days, we’re bringing together leaders from more than 100 governments alongside activists, trade unionists, and other members of civil society, leading experts and researchers, and representatives from the business community, not — not to assert that any one of our democracies is perfect or has all the answers, but to lock arms and reaffirm our shared commitment to make our democracies better; to share ideas and learn from each other; and to make concrete commitments of how — how to strengthen our own democracies and push back on authoritarianism, fight corruption, promote and protect human rights of people everywhere.  To act.  To act. 

     This summit is a kick-off of a year in action for all of our countries to follow through on our commitments and to report back next year on the progress we’ve made.

     And as we do this, the United States is going to lead by example, investing in our own democratic — in our democracy, supporting our partners around the world at the same time. 

     From the earliest days of my administration, we pursu- — we’ve pursued a broad-based agenda to prove that American democracy can still do big things and take on challenges that matter most.

     That’s why we immediately passed what we call the American Rescue Plan to get shots in people’s arms as fast as possible at home and around the world to help get this pandemic under control, and to stimulate inclusive and lasting economic recovery that’s also helping to drive global growth.

     Last month, I was proud to sign a bipartisan piece of legislation, a true act of consensus between Democrats and Republicans in our country: the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.

     This legislation will make a generational investment
to deliver what people need most in the 21st century: clean water, safe roads, high-speed broadband Internet, and so much more — all of which strengthens our democracy by creating good-paying union jobs that will translate to lives of opportunity and dignity for working people, with better access to the tools and resources they need to thrive.

     And soon — and soon, I hope — I hope to sign into law a bill we call the Build Back Better plan, which will be an extraordinary investment in our people and our workers and give American families just a little more breathing room to deal with their problems and their opportunities.

     Our domestic agenda has been focused on delivering for the needs of the American people and strengthening our democratic institutions at home.

     On my first day in office, I signed an executive order to advance racial justice and equality.  And my administration recently released our first National Strategy on Gender Equality and Equity.

     We’re fostering greater worker power, because workers organizing a union to give them the voice in their workplace, in their community, and their country isn’t just an act of economic solidarity, it’s democracy in action.

     We’re making it easy for Americans to register to vote, and we’ve doubled the number of attorneys defending and enforcing voting rights laws through our Department of Justice.

     And my administration is going to keep fighting to pass two critical pieces of legislation that will shore up the very foundation of American democracy: the sacred right of every person to make their voice heard through free, fair, and secure elections.

     We need to enact what we call the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to prevent voting discrimination, provide baselines for assessing — accessing the ballot box, and ensure the will of the voters is upheld, and so much more.

     We should be making it easy for people to vote, not harder.  And that’s going to remain a priority for my administration until we get it done.

     Inaction is not an option.

     And as we continue to work at home to bring the United States closer to what we call a “more perfect union,” we’re doubling down on our engagement with and support of democracies around the world.

     Earlier this week, I released the first U.S. government Strategy on Countering Corruption, which elevates our fight against transnational corruption — a crime that drains public resources and hollows out the ability of governments to deliver for the people and just evaporates confidence that the people much need to have in their government.

     The strategy includes working with other partners — all of you around the world — to improve transparency, hold corrupt actors accountable, reduce their ability to use the United States and international financial systems to hide assets and to launder money.

      And today, I’m proud to launch the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, which will focus efforts across diplomacy — across our diplomacy and foreign assistance programs to bolster democratic resilience and human rights and — globally.

     Working with our Congress, we’re planning to commit as much as $224 million [$424 million] in the next year to shore up transparent and accountable governance, including supporting media freedom, fighting international corruption, standing with democratic reformers, promoting technology that advances democracy, and defining and defending what a fair election is. 

     Let me give you a few examples of the kind of work this initiative is — will entail: a free and independent media.  It’s the bedrock of democracy.  It’s how the public stay informed and how governments are held accountable.  And around the world, press freedom is under threat.  

     So, we’re committing critical seed money to launch a new multilateral effort — our International Fund for Public Interest Media — to sustain independent media around the world.

     And through the — our USAID, we’re going to be standing up a new Defamation Defense Fund for Journalists to help protect investigative journalists against nuisance lawsuits designed to prevent them from doing their work — their vital work around the world.

     We’re going to launch new programs to help connect anti-corrup- — anti-corruption activities across civil society, the media, academia, labor, and protect whistleblowers and help partners eliminate money laundering and safe havens.

     To ensure that our democracies are strengthening by the voice — are strengthened by the voice of all citizens, this Presidential Initiative includes programs to advance women and girls and civic engagement and political leadership, empowering the LGBTQL [sic] community — plus community — individuals to participate in democratic institutions, promote labor law reform, working or — and worker organizations.

     It includes new lines of efforts with our partners to address online harassment and abuse, and reduce the potential for countries to abuse new technologies, including surveillance technologies, to suppress the rights of their people to express their views.

     And we’ll stand up two — and we’re going to stand up two rapid-response, cross-cutting initiatives that support the key goals of this summit: the Fund for Democratic Renewal and the Partnership for Democ- — for Democracy program.  It’s going to allow State Department and USAID to surge funds to support our partners working on democratic frontlines around the world.

     My fellow leaders, members of civil society, activists, advocates, citizens: We stand at an inflection point in our history, in my view.  The choices we make, in my view, in the next — in this moment are going to fundamentally determine the direction our world is going to take in the coming decades.

     Will we allow the backward slide of rights and democracy to continue unchecked?  Or will we together — together — have a vision and the vision — not just “a” vision, “the” vision — and courage to once more lead the march of human progress and human freedom forward? 

     I believe we can do that and we will if we have faith in ourselves, in our — and in our democracies, and in each other.

     That’s what this summit is about.

     I’m so looking forward to a productive session and discussions that we’ll have — we’ll have over the next two days.  I’m looking forward to the connections we’ll build to support our work moving forward.

     So, let’s get to work.  Thank you all so very much for your patience.

8:25 A.M. EST

Participating delegations shared their vision for strengthening democracy through Summit for Democracy Official Interventions. Interventions broadcast on Day 1 are linked below; this page will update at the conclusion of Day 2 and as additional Interventions are submitted.

View the list of invited participants to the Summit for Democracy


Fact Sheet: Announcing the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal

Today, President Biden opened the first-ever Summit for Democracy, a forum for leaders from around the world to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing democracies in the 21st century. As a core U.S. Government commitment toward achieving the Summit’s objectives, today President Biden announced the establishment of the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, a landmark set of policy and foreign assistance initiatives that build upon the U.S. Government’s significant, ongoing work to bolster democracy and defend human rights globally.

The United States has long worked to strengthen democracy and advance respect for human rights. Not only is this the right thing to do, it is in the United States’ national security interest, because strong, rights-respecting democracies are more peaceful, prosperous, and stable. Democracies also make stronger partners for the United States, as we work together to address the world’s most pressing international challenges, from combating the climate crisis to preventing the next pandemic.

The Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal represents a significant, targeted expansion of U.S. Government efforts to defend, sustain, and grow democratic resilience with likeminded governmental and non-governmental partners. In the coming year, the United States is planning to provide up to $424.4 million toward the Presidential Initiative, working with Congress and subject to the availability of appropriations. These efforts will center on five areas of work crucial to the functioning of transparent, accountable governance:
Supporting Free and Independent Media
Fighting Corruption
Bolstering Democratic Reformers
Advancing Technology for Democracy
Defending Free and Fair Elections and Political Processes

I. Supporting Free and Independent Media
Bolstering Independent Media. Under the Presidential Initiative, USAID will provide up to $30 million to the International Fund for Public Interest Media, a new multi-donor fund designed to enhance the independence, development, and sustainability of independent media, especially in resource-poor and fragile settings. Additionally, USAID will provide up to $5 million to launch a Media Viability Accelerator, which will improve the financial viability of independent media outlets in both under-developed and more-developed media markets.
Protecting Journalists Physically, Digitally, and Legally. To guard the essential work of journalism from spurious legal claims aiming to silence legitimate work, USAID will provide up to $9 million to support a global Defamation Defense Fund for Journalists, which will offer liability coverage to investigative reporters and their organizations. In parallel, the State Department will provide up to $3.5 million to establish a Journalism Protection Platform, which will provide at-risk journalists with digital and physical security training, psychosocial care, legal aid, and other forms of assistance. And the U.S. Government will increase its engagement with the Media Freedom Coalition, an intergovernmental partnership working to advocate for media freedom and the safety of journalists worldwide.

II. Fighting Corruption
Supporting Anti-corruption Change Agents. To support and connect anti-corruption actors across civil society, media, academia, and labor organizations, USAID will provide up to $5 million to launch the Empowering Anti-Corruption Change Agents Program, which will promote protective measures for whistleblowers, civil society activists, journalists, and others at risk due to their anti-corruption work. The State Department, joined by other donors, will build on its support for the Global Anti-Corruption Consortium (GACC) by providing up to $6 million to enhance the GACC’s work to connect media and civil society organizations with one another, expose ill-gotten gains, and support legal or policy changes in support of anti-corruption objectives.
Curbing Corruption through Strategic and Regulatory Action. Earlier this week, the U.S. Government unveiled its first-ever United States Strategy on Countering Corruption, which provides a blueprint for cracking down on corruption at home and abroad. In support of this strategy, the Treasury Department will enact regulations to increasetransparency in the U.S. real estate market by establishing reporting requirements for those closest to real estate transactions. In parallel, the State Department, working with the Departments of Treasury and Justice, will provide up to $15.1 million to launch the Democracies Against Safe Havens Initiative, which will work to build the capacity of partner governments to deny corrupt actors the ability to hide ill-gotten gains through anti-money laundering measures, to encourage like-minded partners to adopt anti-corruption sanctions and visa restriction regimes, and to detect and disrupt complex corruption schemes.

Innovating and Partnering to Combat Corruption. To identify novel approaches to address transnational corruption and its enablers, USAID will provide up to $15.7 million to launch the Combating Transnational Corruption Grand Challenge, a partnership platform to crowd-source innovative solutions from businesses, technologists, philanthropies, and other actors.
Strengthening Anti-Corruption Ecosystems. To enhance partner countries’ ability to build resilience against kleptocracy and illicit finance, including by supporting beneficial ownership disclosure, strengthening government contracting and procurement regulations, and improving anti-corruption investigation and disruption efforts, USAID will provide up to $11.5 million to launch a Global Accountability Program. Additionally, to advance the fight against corruption at transitionary moments such as during political openings, USAID will provide up to $17.6 million for an Anti-Corruption Response Fund, and the State Department will provide up to $6.5 million to establish a Global Initiative to Galvanize the Private Sector as Partners in Combatting Corruption, to energize and institutionalize existing public sector anti-corruption engagement with the business community.

III. Bolstering Democratic Reformers
Empowering Historically Marginalized Groups and Ensuring All Have a Say in Democracy. To advance the civic and political leadership of women, USAID and the State Department will provide up to $33.5 million to launch the Advancing Women’s and Girls’ Civic and Political Leadership Initiative, which will help facilitate the full and safe exercise of women’s rights and representation. The State Department will also provide up to $5 million to launch the Global LGBTQI+ Inclusive Democracy and Empowerment (GLIDE) Fund, a new program under the Global Equality Fund that will facilitate the participation and leadership of LGBTQI+ community members in democratic institutions.
Supporting Activists, Workers, and Reform-Minded Leaders.Responding to the increased threat against human rights defenders and activists globally, the State Department will provide up to $10 million for Lifeline: Embattled CSOs Assistance Fund, a multilateral initiative which supports civil society organizations under threat as a consequence of their democracy and human rights work. The State Department will also provide up to $1 million to establish the Bridging Understanding, Integrity, and Legitimacy for Democracy (BUILD) Initiative, which will lay the groundwork for providing career professionals in closed political spaces the skills and resources to navigate democratic openings when they occur. USAID will provide up to $15 million to launch the Powered by the People initiative, which will assist nonviolent social movements by increasing coordination through exchanges, seed grants, and engagement with younger pro-democracy actors. Additionally, the Departments of Labor and State, and USAID, will provide up to $122 million to establish a Multilateral Partnership for Organizing, Worker Empowerment, and Rights (M-POWER), which will help workers around the world claim their rights and improve wages and conditions by strengthening democratic and independent worker organizations and supporting labor law reform and enforcement.

IV. Advancing Technology for Democracy
Advancing an Open, Interoperable, Reliable, and Secure Internet. The United States embraces a vision of an Internet that is open, interoperable, reliable, and secure, and reaffirms our commitment to protecting and respecting human rights online and across the digital ecosystem. The use of digital technologies should reinforce, not weaken, democracy and respect for human rights; offer opportunities for innovation in the digital ecosystem, including businesses large and small; and maintain connections between societies. To achieve this vision and maintain a high level of security, privacy protection, stability, and resilience of the technical infrastructure of the Internet, the U.S. Government will work with partners to protect and fortify the multi-stakeholder system of Internet governance. As part of this effort, the United States will work to strengthen the Freedom Online Coalition (FOC), a multi-stakeholder effort to support Internet freedom and promote human rights online. The U.S. Government will seek not only to expand FOC membership, but also to deepen the Coalition’s diplomatic efforts to address the challenges and opportunities of digital technologies.
Expanding Digital Democracy Programming. To assist partner countries in realizing the benefits of digital technologies that support democratic values and respect human rights, rather than undermining them, USAID will provide up to $20.3 million to build on programming supporting open, secure, and inclusive digital ecosystems. This programming will help governments enshrine democratic principles in their countries’ use, development, and governance of technology, while empowering civil society, technologists, and the private sector to encourage the same.
Advancing Democracy-Affirming Technologies. To incentivize innovation in technologies that asymmetrically advantage democratic values and governance, the National Science Foundation, the National Institute of Standards and Technology, and the Open Technology Fund, alongside international partners, will provide up to $3.75 million for a series of International Grand Challenges on Democracy-Affirming Technologies. This series of prize competitions will focus on topics such as harnessing artificial intelligence for an open Internet and advancing and deploying privacy-preserving technologies.
Defending against Digital Authoritarianism. To reduce the potential for human rights abuses enabled by some dual-use technologies, the U.S. Government and likeminded partners will launch an Export Controls and Human Rights Initiative, in which participating governments will work together to determine how export control tools could better monitor and, as appropriate, restrict the proliferation of such technologies. In parallel, to counter authoritarian censorship of the Internet, the State Department will provide up to $4 million to establish and seed a Multilateral Surge and Sustain Fund for Anti-Censorship Technology, which will enable the connection of more users to the uncensored Internet, sustain those connections in times of greatest need, and invite likeminded partners to contribute jointly.

V. Defending Free and Fair Elections and Political Processes
Strengthening Electoral Integrity. To advance electoral integrity globally, USAID will provide up to $2.5 million to launch a Coalition for Securing Electoral Integrity, which will bring together governmental and non-governmental partners within the international electoral integrity community to develop norms, guiding principles, and codes of conduct on prioritized electoral integrity issues, while promoting adherence to those basic standards.
Piloting and Scaling Innovative Approaches to Defend Democratic Elections. As a complement to the Coalition for Securing Electoral Integrity, USAID will provide up to $17.5 million to establish a Defending Democratic Elections Fund to pilot, scale, and apply evidence-based responses to threats to electoral integrity and related political processes globally. This Fund will address issues such as cybersecurity; domestic and foreign electoral manipulation; electoral violence, including gender-based violence; illicit domestic and foreign political financing; election-related disinformation; and barriers to the political participation of marginalized populations.

Finally, as part of the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, the U.S. Government will launch two new cross-cutting rapid response programs aimed at supporting the Summit for Democracy’s objectives.
Demonstrating that Democracy Delivers. To help countries experiencing a democratic transition demonstrate democracy’s tangible benefits, USAID will provide up to $55 million to launch Partnerships for Democracy. This new, global, and flexible funding mechanism will enable the U.S. Government to surge cross-sectoral assistance to reform-minded partner governments to assist them in delivering visible benefits to their populations in areas such as health care and education.
Advancing the Democratic Renewal Agenda. To advance global democracy priorities that frequently intersect, such as strengthening rule of law, fighting corruption, bolstering civilian security, and promoting human rights, the State Department will provide up to $10 million to launch the Fund for Democratic Renewal (FDR). This flexible, rapid-response fund will enable State Department bureaus and offices under the Under Secretary for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights to respond collectively and collaboratively to support partners working on democracy’s front lines.

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