U.S. and allies warn against "backward slide" in democracy around the world
Kicking off his much-anticipated virtual Summit for Democracy on Thursday morning, U.S. President Joe Biden denounced what he called "the backward slide" in democracy around the world, warning scores of fellow world leaders that “we stand at an inflection point in history”, TURAN's Washington correspondent reports.
"... [M]ore 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," he said, citing a recent report from the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance.
"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?" - he questioned.
In the opening speech to the Summit, the American president also offered some harsh words for autocrats abroad.
Those strongmen, he said, “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 social division and political polarization.”
In meetings yesterday and today, activists, civil society leaders and representatives from some 110 nations are discussing ways to guard against authoritarianism, fight corruption, and promote human rights.
“Leaders will be encouraged to announce specific actions and commitments to meaningful internal reforms and international initiatives that advance the Summit’s goals,” a State Department official told TURAN's Washington correspondent prior to the Summit. There will be another summit next year for countries to report progress.
As Biden put it in his opening statement, democracy "doesn’t happen by accident... We have to renew it with each generation."
During his speech, Biden also made some news, announcing a Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal that will direct more than $424 million in U.S. funding toward efforts aimed at “supporting free and independent media,” “fighting corruption,” “bolstering democratic reformers,” “advancing technology for democracy,” and “defending free and fair elections and political processes,” per the White House. Congress is yet to appropriate the funding.
The Biden administration has also been unveiling batches of sanctions throughout this week as it promotes the Summit for Democracy.
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