President Biden Optimistic about the Health of Democracy Worldwide
President Joe Biden, in his second democracy summit, expressed a hopeful outlook on the state of democracy globally, citing progress made by leaders to halt the years-long backslide of democratic institutions. Biden pointed out that despite the Russian-Ukrainian war and US-China tensions over its military and economic influence, there were positive advancements worldwide. He mentioned Angola’s effort to create an independent judiciary, Croatia’s transparency initiatives, and the Dominican Republic’s anti-corruption measures as examples. Biden further stated that democracy is getting stronger, while autocracy is getting weaker, as a result of the efforts of all leaders.
Democracy Summit Aims to Build Deeper Alliances
Biden indicates that the democracy summit provides an avenue for the US to strengthen its partnerships with other countries and encourage autocratic-leaning nations towards modest changes. The US will allocate $690 million to bolster democracy programs worldwide, enhance election transparency, and support free and fair independent media. Biden also wants the summit to address technology’s potential to “advance democratic governance” while ensuring it does not undermine democracy.
Joint Statement to Counter Misuse of Commercial Spyware Signed by 10 Countries
President Biden and nine other nations signed a joint statement agreeing to deepening cooperation on countering the proliferation and misuse of commercial spyware. The countries include Costa Rica, Australia, Canada, Switzerland, Denmark, France, Norway, Sweden, and the United Kingdom. They seek to publish guidelines for the use of surveillance technology by governments before the end of the two-day summit on Thursday.
US and Nine Other Nations to Partner on Protecting Activist Groups
The US Cybersecurity & Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA) will work with nine other countries to protect groups at risk of experiencing transnational cyber-attacks. Australia, Canada, Denmark, Estonia, France, Japan, New Zealand, Norway and the United Kingdom have signed on.
Some Countries Opt Out
Pakistan is among the countries skipping the summit, having also skipped the 2023 summit, in a bid to placate long-time ally China. China’s embassy in Washington said the summit is “at odds with the spirit of democracy” and is drawing “an ideological line” between countries.
Building Democracy is Essential for Developing Nations’ Growth
Kenya’s President, William Ruto, highlights the importance of building democracy in the growth of developing nations. Ruto, who won Kenya’s last presidential race with opposition candidate Raila Odinga alleging irregularities, claimed that democracy is the path to sustainable development.
Deep polarization and pervasive misinformation have made democracy a challenge for the US. Efforts to increase voting access and support for the Voting Rights Act have failed thus far, and there is fear that a Supreme Court ruling in a case from Alabama could severely impact the 60-year-old legislation. The Biden administration has faced criticism from some human rights activists for being too lenient on Egypt and Saudi Arabia over their human rights records.
In closing, the summit has provided an opportunity for the US and nine other countries to strengthen their alliances and deepen their efforts towards transparency and democracy. While some countries opt-out of the summit, there is a general sense of progress towards the growth of democracy worldwide.