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Summit for Democracy – the future: how to sustain international support

Wednesday 7 – Friday 9 February 2024 | WP3355

Summit for Democracy – potential images
  1. The Biden Administration’s Summit for Democracy initiative was the first leader-level discussion focused on democratic renewal in modern times. It provided a forum for focus at a critical time for the international community and catalysed domestic action in a range of countries by enabling governments, academics, the private sector, and civil society to align on democratic priorities and follow this up with sustained support and action.
  2. This made the S4D process a potential “north star” for people working to support democracy. The challenges we face – including those related to digital technology and elections, conflict, and climate change, for example – will impact democracy even further and mean we need closer coordination

A moment to focus on democracy at the highest level

  1. In considering what might follow the third S4D, it is clear that a regular, high-level political moment to focus attention on democracy would provide an opportunity to engage leaders and ministers on the challenges to democratic renewal. Leaders build attention and momentum for action on this critical 21st century challenge. A time-bound process, with deadlines and markers acts as a catalyst for getting things done. S4D has been able to generate concrete initiatives to support democracy that are endowed with a certain measure of support.
  2. The Democracy Cohorts set up as part of the Summit for Democracy Process, co-led by governments and civil society and comprising governments, civil society, and the private sector, provided opportunities to consider and take concerted action on certain issues. They helped sustain momentum between the Summits and some have continued, helping to build sustainable coordination on aspects of democratic renewal.
  3. International summits also play a key role for enabling internal state advocacy among ministries focused on democracy – this role must be recognised as summits can provide an opportunity for global leaders to make commitments to civil society-driven agendas and set the tone for their Ministries to prioritise a focus on democracy across all sectors.

A space to share the democratic playbook and values

  1. Like other fora, including the Commonwealth and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), a democracy-focused summit process is valuable as a space to share best practices. It can be a source of ideas, support, inspiration, and solidarity for countries who each have their own individual democratic challenges and opportunities.
  2. Autocracies share their playbooks. We know we need more coordination on democracy, and a summit process can be an opportunity to share the democratic playbook and build a sense of community based on shared values.


Opportunities for democratic renewal


The way forward

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