President Joe Biden on Wednesday offered an optimistic view of the health of democracies around the world, saying that leaders are setting a “turning tide” for the long-term return of democratic institutions.
In his second bid to open up democracy, Biden held out hope for a win last year, despite Russia’s war in neighboring Ukraine and US tensions with China over its military and economic power in the Indo-Pacific and beyond.
There are also signs of progress around the world, from Angola’s efforts to create an independent judiciary, Croatia’s move to transparent government and the Dominican Republic’s government’s anti-corruption measures.
Biden also cited constraints on voter protection in Congress as evidence of his administration’s commitment to supporting democracy.
“Today we can proudly say that the world’s democracies are getting stronger, not weaker,” Biden said. “The authorities of the world are getting weaker, not stronger. That’s the effect on all of us.”
The summits, which Biden has promised as a candidate in 2020, have become an important part of his administration’s efforts to try to build higher societies and to push countries based on autocracy to at least modest changes.
He said that the United States of America will spend 690 million dollars to strengthen the principles of democracy – supporting all free and independent media for free and fair elections around the world.
He also stated that he wants to use his best efforts to encourage debate on the use of technology to “promote democratic governance” and ensure that such technology “is not undermined”.
The United States has reached an agreement with 10 other nations to outline principles that would govern governments’ use of surveillance technology, according to a senior administration official who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the agreement ahead of its official announcement.
Earlier this week, Biden signed an executive order restricting the US government’s use of commercial spying tools used to monitor human rights activists, journalists and dissidents around the world.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has refuted those who suggested it was time to negotiate a deal with Russian leader Vladimir Putin. “We must reject the illusion that by combining with evil something can lead to freedom, and the enemies of democracy must lose,” Zelenskyy told the summit.
Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte said the attack was a shocking moment for world democracy.
“For decades, the idea of war in Europe seemed unthinkable. But we were wrong, as Russia’s brutality in Ukraine shows that we cannot take democracy, freedom and security for granted, which are forever,” Rutte said.
“This is our way to sustain development,” Ruto said.
The United States alone hosted the last summit. At this time, the four co-hosted armies – Costa Rica, the Netherlands, South Korea and Zambia – criticized the Chinese and Russian ambassadors for the first time and accused Biden of causing a global cold war divide.
The Biden administration has also expanded its guest list. Bosnia-Herzegovina, Gambia, Honduras, Ivory Coast, Liechtenstein, Mauritania, Mozambique and Tanzania have been invited this year, after being left off the list in 2021.
The first day of the summit was convened in a virtual format, and will be followed by hybrid meetings in each of the foreign countries on Thursday.
Costa Rica wants to focus on the role of youth in the democratic system.
The Dutch will talk about freedom of the media. South Korea is dealing with corruption. Zambia aims for free and fair elections.
The United States is no stranger to the challenges that democracy faces, such as deep polarization and widespread misinformation.
Lies about the 2020 presidential election by then President Donald Trump and his supporters convinced most Republicans that it was not legitimately elected, to spread harassment and death threats normal against election officials and to justify efforts to adopt laws in the Republican controlled. new restrictions on voting.
Later this year, the U.S. Supreme Court in Alabama will rule on a voter’s rights case that advocates fear will nearly roll back the nearly 60-year-old Voting Rights Act.
Congressional efforts to enforce federal law and increase voter access have failed.
Biden came to office emphasizing that human rights and democracy would be important in his approach to foreign policy.
But it has drawn criticism from some human rights activists for being too soft on human rights records in Saudi Arabia and Egypt.
The administration sees both nations as important stabilizing partners in the Middle East.
Recently, Biden administration officials have been at odds with Israel, its ally, since Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is trying to push through long-term judicial reform that the United States fears will undermine Israeli democracy.
Speaking at the summit, Netanyahu said Israel remains a “robust democracy” amid “great public debate.”
“Democracy means the will of the people expressed by the majority, and it also means the protection of civil rights and individual rights. It is between the two,” he said.
After the plenary session of the summit, Biden will receive the President of Argentina, Alberto Fernández, the top participant.