Following the Year of Action after the first Summit for Democracy in 2021, NDI once again played a central role throughout the second Summit, held from March 28-30. This year’s Summit was a global event co-hosted with Costa Rica, The Netherlands, South Korea, Zambia, and the United States. Each co-host highlighted a key democracy theme within their portion of the Summit: youth, anti-corruption, election integrity, technology, independent media and many more themes through side events. NDI helped organize official events and side events, spoke on panels, and highlighted local partners who are democracy defenders fighting for progress on the frontlines. Key highlights of NDI’s participation in this year’s Summit included:
NDI, the International Republican Institute (IRI), and the Center for International Private Enterprise held a workshop on the many ways young people are promoting democracy within their communities. The event was structured around the World Movement for Democracy’s publication, What’s Next, and showed how young people have expanded inclusive civic spaces; countered false narratives to create a healthy ecosystem of information; and fostered citizen-centered accountability and transparent governance.
In the Indo-Pacific region and beyond, non-governmental stakeholders are undertaking a wide range of anti-corruption activities to help reinvigorate democracy. NDI partnered with the South Korean government in its Summit activities, and supported a discussion on how non-governmental stakeholders’ anti-corruption work fosters democratic accountability. The panel featured Nobel Laureate and NDI Democracy Award winner Maria Ressa.
The development of independent, non-partisan citizen observer organizations in every region of the world is one of the most important democratic achievements of the past 40 years. However, in many countries, political space is closing and restrictive laws and regulations are being used to undermine the ability of citizen organizations to observe electoral processes. Citizen observers across Africa are pushing back against this trend to promote more inclusive, accountable and transparent elections. NDI sponsored a discussion of the threats facing citizen election observer rights in Africa, and the ways they are defending their right to observe elections.
Legislatures play a critical role in promoting democratic resilience through lawmaking, representation and oversight to ensure government actions align with citizen priorities. The House Democracy Partnership — along with co-implementers NDI and IRI — led several events showcasing the role of legislatures in strengthening democratic resilience. 60 members of parliament in leadership from more than 30 countries attended. Discussions focused on anti-corruption, inclusion, technology, electoral integrity, constituent engagement and cross-party cooperation.
Secretary of State Antony Blinken keynoted The Status of Women is the Status of Democracy event, which addressed the scourge of technology-facilitated gender-based violence that disproportionately disenfranchises women and girls. The event elevated the work of the Global Partnership for Action on Gender-Based Online Harassment and Abuse that was begun during the Year of Action. Sandra Pepera, whom Senior State Department Official Kat Fotovat lauded as “instrumental” in supporting this effort, moderated a panel discussion and gave a progress report on NDI’s work to address gender-based violence.
NDI leadership lent their expertise to the global conversation around the Summit with opinion articles authored in The Hill. NDI Director of Democratic Governance Kristen Sample, alongside International Budget Partnership’s Anjali Garg, stressed the importance of debt accountability in meeting key Summit objectives. NDI Director of Political Parties Birgitta Ohlsson underlined the role of strong democratic parties and de-polarized political debate in bolstering global democracy.
The Design 4 Democracy Coalition, coordinated by NDI, convened global civil society groups and partners from technology companies to discuss the industry’s approach to elections around the world. The event previewed how they will improve their policies and products, while addressing online threats in the coming year.
NDI and IRI sponsored an event on the Global Fragility Act (GFA), designed to strengthen democracy in fragile states. The event featured opening remarks from senior USAID and State Department officials and included government leaders from Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, Mozambique and Papua New Guinea, as well as civil society. The panelists discussed the opportunities and challenges for political and social transformation in their countries, which GFA and Summit commitments can help address.
- NDI was the host for this year’s Annual Political Party Peer Network Conference, which brought together 70 participants from think tanks, academia, and political parties to discuss trends, best practices and strategies to address political polarization – one of the most difficult challenges confronting democracies.
Author: Scott Franklin, Government Relations and Communications Associate, Government Relations and Communication team.
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.