Democracy never stops, even in the face of a globally broadcast Zoom call. During a session of the Legislative Track of the Summit for Democracy, featured panelist, Polish MP Hon. Agnieszka Pomaska took viewers into the parliamentary chambers while she voted and simultaneously spoke about parliament’s role in fighting executive overreach.
That moment of democratic dynamism was one of many that occurred during the three days that constituted the Legislative Track of the Summit for Democracy. Organized by the House Democracy Partnership (HDP) -- a bipartisan commission of the U.S. House of Representatives supported by NDI and the International Republican Institute (IRI) -- the Legislative Track brought together those closest to the people they represent: legislators. They focused on the urgency of the issues raised by the Summit’s themes -- combatting authoritarianism, countering corruption and upholding human rights -- and the role of parliaments in devising and implementing solutions.
During the track’s four sessions, legislators and leaders from 21 countries shared their voices. Of the 40 participating legislators, half were women. Others represented historically underserved communities. Yet all shared a sense of urgency and common purpose to address global threats to democracy: rising authoritarianism and corruption; and the erosion of basic human rights. For example,
- Hon. Ruslan Stefanchuk, Speaker of the Rada in Ukraine, spoke on countering authoritarian regimes in the context of current pressing challenges faced by his country.
- Hon. Sajad Salim of Iraq spoke on the dangers of corruption, and his work to build integrity and faith in his country’s democratic institutions.
- And Hon. Jacqueline Oduol of the Kenyan National Assembly spoke on the importance of inclusion in defending human rights as she continues a lifetime of advocacy towards that mission.
The Summit’s Legislative Track brought new ideas and connections to bear to help parliaments stand up for and promote democratic institutions and ideals. As NDI President Amb. Derek Mitchell said during his closing remarks, “I am convinced that the sessions this week with legislators and heads of state are only the beginning,” continuing “the true work of the Democracy Summit will take place over the next year and parliaments will have a critical role in advancing the Summit commitments through their roles in legislating reforms and conducting oversight.”
NDI, in its role with the House Democracy Partnership, will continue to play a substantial role in bringing parliaments together to build on the momentum of the three days of virtual sessions and turn ideas into action in the next year. Because like the challenges and opportunities ahead, democracy never stops and its work is never done.
NDI is a non-profit, non-partisan, non-governmental organization that works in partnership around the world to strengthen and safeguard democratic institutions, processes, norms and values to secure a better quality of life for all. NDI envisions a world where democracy and freedom prevail, with dignity for all.
Author: Anthony DeAngelo is a Senior Program Manager on the Democractic Governance team.