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Summit For Democracy

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"We have a long-held belief that while elections are an essential cog in any democracy, it is the long, winding path of everyday governance by elected representatives that sets the tone and lays the foundation for effective government and trust between citizens and officials." 

-    Congressman David Price (D-NC),
Chairman of the House Democracy Partnership

In December 2021, President Biden convened the first Summit for Democracy, setting forth an agenda to revitalize and strengthen democracy around the world and to work together towards solutions for our greatest shared challenges. The Summit brought together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector - recognizing that democracy is not determined just by the officials in government, but by the participation of a whole democratic society.

The House Democracy Partnership is honored to have hosted the Legislative Track of the Summit, specifically designed for members of the legislature. HDP’s extensive experience organizing and executing dialogue and engagements between lawmakers from all over the world keenly positioned us to fulfill this important need. HDP programs during the Summit provided an opportunity for reform-oriented peers to come together across cultures and countries to connect and learn more about their shared responsibilities and democratic practices. Lawmakers engaged on the Summit’s three commitments - Countering Corruption, Curbing Authoritarianism, and Safeguarding Human Rights – from their unique perspective as national representatives of the people.

The importance of the legislature to a democracy cannot be overstated. Legislatures serve as a platform for a country’s most important issues to be debated, for policy to tackle its most important problems, and for the voices of the people to be heard. Because of this, the legislature is one of the strongest safeguards of a democracy, and the Legislative Track of the Summit for Democracy reflected the need to engage lawmakers in building democratic resilience.


Session I

Political actors across the globe are increasingly turning to authoritarian tactics to advance their interests, including through populist campaigns that disregard the role of representative institutions. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the adoption of authoritarian methods, with executives using command and control measures to justify civilian safety. Technology, despite having the potential to better link people to their representatives, has compounded these challenges by enabling a form of “techno-authoritarianism” that projects its malign influence abroad. This session discussed these troubling trends, while outlining specific steps that have been and can be taken globally to curb authoritarianism through legislative oversight and other methods. Discussions also turned to the need for a specific focus to defend against digital threats, misinformation, and digitally-enabled authoritarianism.

Session II

Kleptocracy is an authoritarian governance model in which political leaders routinely engage in illicit self-enrichment, maintain power through corrupt patronage networks, exploit rule of law jurisdictions to conceal and protect stolen assets, and use strategic corruption as a tool of foreign policy. Parliaments around the world are under increased pressure to offer a response to the toxic effects of kleptocracy through coordinated action internationally and the dismantling of the domestic networks that enable foreign corruption. This session discussed legislative approaches and success stories in countering kleptocracy, including recent legislation approved in the U.S. House of Representatives focused on beneficial ownership transparency, visa exclusions for human rights abusers and kleptocrats, supporting global anti-corruption efforts, information disclosure requirements for asset seizures, among other topics.

Session III

Effective democratic governance is critical to safeguarding human rights. With the global pandemic continuing to exacerbate existing inequalities, economic hardship, and protracted conflict, inclusive lawmaking is more important than ever in the delivery of resources and maintenance of basic rights. This session discussed the ways legislatures can engage in inclusive, accountable democratic governance that upholds human rights. Specifically, these discussions focused on the ways in which democratic processes raise awareness to challenges faced by marginalized communities, and support initiatives that build cooperation between different levels of government to spotlight critical voices and protect human rights.