Tue. Apr 16th, 2024
Summit for Democracy: Democracy Cohort Outcomes

Since 2021, the Summit for Democracy process has focused attention on how governments and non-governmental actors can work together to strengthening democratic institutions and processes, protect human rights, and advance the fight against corruption.

At the first Summit for Democracy in December 2021, representatives from governments around the world, civil society, and the private sector organized into 15 cooperative, multi-stakeholder “Democracy Cohorts:” platforms intended to undertake concerted action toward the implementation of Summit commitments in areas of common interest.

The 15 Democracy Cohorts focused on a range of topics, including technology, media freedom, youth engagement, financial transparency, rule of law, election integrity, and gender equality, among others.  With 23 governments and 24 civil society and private sector actors co-leading these platforms, participants reflect democratic society’s shared stake in advancing key facets of transparent and accountable governance.

What are Democracy Cohorts?

In dialogue with civil society, the United States launched the Democracy Cohorts concept to support and monitor commitments made during the first Summit and provide additional opportunities for continued dialogue and collaboration among governments and authorities, civil society representatives, private sector leaders, philanthropic partners, and academics.  While each Cohort included at least one government and one civil society co-lead, their focus, objectives, actions, and deliverables were their own to determine and execute through inclusive, multi-stakeholder collaboration with co-leads and participants.  Several governments and many civic groups enthusiastically volunteered to lead and participate in the Cohorts, lending their experience and expertise to foster democratic learning.

Democracy Cohorts Launched During the Year of Action

Coming together for meaningful dialogue and collaboration, the Cohorts underscore the importance of strengthening democratic principles and participation, holding democratic governments accountable, and helping democracy deliver for its citizens.  The Summit for Democracy organizers present the following summaries of each Cohort’s work and outcomes for the consideration of Summit participants, who may choose to utilize identified best practices, adopt recommended commitments, collaborate with Cohorts to advance ongoing efforts, and sign on to Calls to Action or Declarations.  Like other Summit participants, the U.S. government will give due consideration to Cohort recommendations and deliverables.

Economic Growth, Shared Prosperity, and the Fight Against Corruption

Financial Transparency and Integrity

The Financial Transparency and Integrity cohort, co-led by the Government of the United States, the Brookings Institution, and the Open Government Partnership, focused on concerted, collaborative actions to advance financial transparency, accountability, and integrity.

Key outcomes include:

  • A Call to Action that outlines key steps that governments, civil society organizations, businesses and others engaged in the Summit should take to fight corruption; and
  • A Beneficial Ownership Outcome Document highlighting considerations for governments working alongside civil society on the implementation of beneficial ownership transparency and other reforms.

International Cooperation for Anti-Corruption

The International Cooperation for Anti-Corruption cohort, co-led by the Government of Moldova, the Basel Institute on Governance, and Transparency International, concentrated on international cooperation in anti-corruption awareness and enforcement, with a focus on asset recovery.

Key outcomes include:

  • A series of workshops convening more than 120 participants from 27 countries, alongside representatives of international organizations, such as the European Commission, United Nations, and World Bank to discuss the investigation of high-level corruption cases and asset recovery; and
  • Recommendations for emphasizing priority areas for potential reform and action going forward, including reinforcing international standards and structures; adapting national legal frameworks and practices, where appropriate; and strengthening operational cooperation.

Anti-Corruption Policies as a Guarantee for National Security, Stability, and Sovereign Policy

The Anti-Corruption Policies as a Guarantee for National Security, Stability, and Sovereign Policy cohort, co-led by the Government of Bulgaria, the Basel Institute on Governance, and the Center for the Study of Democracy, identified challenges and opportunities to promote anti-corruption policies and models for collective action.

Key outcomes include:

  • Recommendations for a high-level policy council focused on anti-corruption policies, and an anti-corruption agenda to strengthen anti-corruption cooperation and information sharing; and
  • A meeting to gather regional authorities and non-governmental organizations with international peers to review and determine cohort commitments.

Press Freedom and Information Integrity

Media Freedom

The Media Freedom cohort , co-led by the Government of Canada, the Government of the Netherlands, and Internews, reviewed progress and concrete action toward the first Summit’s commitments and encouraged new, innovative, and measurable commitments to advance media freedom around the world.

Key outcomes include:

  • A call to action to protect journalists, advance freedom of expression, and bolster independent and diverse media; and
  • A comprehensive findings report that highlights commitments by cohort members and recommends continued collaboration among government, the private sector, and civil society in promoting media freedom beyond the second Summit. This includes an annex of cohort commitments made by all cohort members, representing a diverse range of actions by governments, businesses, and civil society organizations.

Information Integrity

The Information Integrity cohort, co-led by the Government of Canada, the Government of Latvia, and the Alliance for Securing Democracy, highlighted and amplified best practices to strengthen a healthy information ecosystem.

Key outcomes include:

  • A global mapping project to track more than 500 organizations combating disinformation; a report on whole-of-society approaches to media literacy promotion; and a report based on a survey of government and civil society information integrity practitioners on resilience to disinformation; and
  • Recommendations for developing a white paper to inform policymakers and stakeholders about the risks to, and proposed protective measures for, political micro-targeting.

Justice for All

Rule of Law and People-Centered Justice

The Rule of Law and People-Centered Justice cohort, co-led by the Government of the Dominican Republic; the Government of Kosovo; the American Bar Association Rule of Law Initiative; Pathfinders for Peaceful, Just, and Inclusive Societies; Transparency International; and the World Justice Project, engaged interested stakeholders to participate in global rule of law and access to justice processes, such as facilitating cooperating with the Justice Action Coalition, as an opportunity to share achievements and challenges for rule of law and justice reforms.

Key outcomes include:

  • A call to action on the urgent need to strengthen the rule of law and people-centered justice within societies around the world, as a fundamental pillar of democracy and necessary precondition to peaceful, just, and inclusive societies.

Strong Institutions

Deliberative Democracy and Citizens’ Assemblies

The Deliberative Democracy and Citizens’ Assemblies cohort , co-led by the Government of Ireland, the European Commission, and the newDemocracy Foundation, focused on providing citizens with a meaningful role in public decision-making through citizens’ assemblies by bringing together community representatives.

Key outcomes include:

  • Recommendations for holding informational workshops for elected representatives; advocating for the adoption and distribution of the guidelines in the OECD ‘Deliberative Wave’ report; conducting a national-level citizens’ assembly; proposing a ‘Marshall Plan for Democracy’ to support countries with fragile democratic institutions; initiating a Global Citizens Assembly on Democracy; and establishing a global ‘What Works’ Center to support governments’ adoption of deliberative processes.

Election Integrity

The Election Integrity cohort, co-led by the Government of Greece, the Government of India, the Government of Mauritius, and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, concentrated on opportunities for training and capacity building programs and technical consultancies in support of election management bodies (EMBs) and electoral authorities (EAs) globally.

Key outcomes include:

  • Recommendations that EMBs/EAs must be autonomous, professional, and impartial as a credible starting point for achieving election integrity; electoral and political processes should enable meaningful political participation of all people, particularly women, youth, and persons with disabilities, through targeted civic and voter education; and a set of voluntary guidelines for social media companies be developed to promote electoral integrity and combat the spread of mis/disinformation, especially via social media, that negatively influences the electoral environment.

Labor

The Labor cohort, co-led by the United States and the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO), helped to inform the commitments and reforms that governments may choose to make, and fostered diplomatic engagement around labor priorities that emerge from the Multilateral Partnership for Organizing, Worker Empowerment, and Rights  (M-POWER) initiative, which the U.S. government announced at the first Summit for Democracy to advance workplace democracy and support trade union rights in the global economy.

Key outcomes include:

  • A document developed after consultations with government and labor stakeholders that captures best practices and principles to combat forced labor.

Protecting Civic Space and Countering Authoritarianism

Civic Space

The Civic Space cohort , co-led by the Government of the Czech Republic, the Government of Norway, and the International Center for Not-for-Profit Law, focused on supporting and protecting civil society actors and promoting civic space to ensure open and inclusive democracy.

Key outcomes include:

  • Calls to Action on the subjects of giving the public meaningful opportunities to provide input in draft legislation; promoting policies and public statements on human rights, democracy, the rule of law, peace, and sustainable development; applying and sharing experiences with the multilateral toolkit within the OECD DAC recommendation on Enabling Civil Society in Development Cooperation and Humanitarian Assistance; and committing to establish new, or join existing, groups of likeminded states to defend and improve language on civil society inclusion across the UN system.

Resisting Authoritarian Pressure

The Resisting Authoritarian Pressure cohort , co-led by the Government of Lithuania, Freedom House, and the Alliance of Democracies, focused on raising awareness and generating action on the cost of political imprisonment, aiding pro-democracy and human rights defenders from non-democracies, and building resilience to authoritarian coercion.

Key outcomes include:

  • A roundtable with 34 representatives from government, non-governmental organizations, and others on shared best practices to advocate for and secure the release of political prisoners worldwide;
  • A mural of Ales Bialiatski, a Belarusian human rights activist and Nobel laureate currently imprisoned by the Lukashenka regime, painted directly outside the Belarusian Embassy in Vilnius, Lithuania;
  • A risk assessment to help protect potential victims of transnational repression; and
  • declaration that calls on all democracies  to acknowledge and commit to a global framework to counter economic coercion, increasingly prevalent phenomenon of transnational repression, whereby states reach across borders to harm, intimidate, and silence journalists, activists, dissidents, and diaspora communities.

Advancing Technology for Democracy

Technology for Democracy

The Technology for Democracy cohort, co-led by the Government of Estonia, the Government of the United Kingdom, and Access Now, promoted the development, use, and governance of digital technologies to strengthen democracies and enhance the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms.  It aimed to ensure that digital technologies are developed and deployed in a responsible, secure, and rights-respecting manner.

Key outcomes include:

  • Recommended specifications for an e-Democracy solution as a component to a full, free, and secure GovStack e-Governance solution ;
  • A forthcoming, public-facing portal  providing key information on internet shutdowns aimed at promoting greater engagement for non-technical audiences; and
  • Supporting the development of a shared understanding of privacy enhancing technologies (PETs) and shared guidelines and tools for responsible adoption and deployment of PETs.
  • The cohort will engage with the Freedom Online Coalition and GovStack to potentially integrate their work on internet shutdowns and e-Governance, respectively, in these fora to facilitate continued progress to shape global norms and technology standards to align with democratic values and human rights.

Inclusion and Equality

Gender Equality as a Prerequisite for Democracy

The Gender Equality as a Prerequisite for Democracy cohort , co-led by the Government of Romania, the Government of Sweden, Georgetown University’s Institute for Women, Peace, and Security, and International IDEA, emphasized the connection between gender equality and democracy and developed policy recommendations to bolster women’s participation in and contributions to democracy. Key outcomes include:

  • Broad consultations with representatives from government, civil society, and intergovernmental organizations to ensure that women’s experiences and perspectives inform policies and legislation on inclusion, legislative and policy frameworks, and conflict prevention, peace, and security;
  • A road map of actions  that government, civil society, and other actors can implement to promote gender equality and strengthen democracy;
  • Forthcoming recommendations for multi-lateral stakeholders to safeguard democracy through the promotion of gender equality and women’s empowerment; and
  • Global forums to spotlight gender equality as a prerequisite for democracy and underscore that women’s empowerment and safeguarding democracies is interlinked.

Inclusive Democracy

The Inclusive Democracy cohort, co-led by the Government of Spain, Comité Español de Representantes de Personas con Discapacidad, and Fundación Triángulo, concentrated on creating more inclusive democracies through the full participation of the most vulnerable groups.

Key outcomes include:

  • Recommendations for implementing public policies that help these groups exercise their rights and achieve their aspirations; encouraging the development of societies that are more welcoming, inclusive, and equitable; and supporting civil society groups that foster respect for the rights of all.

Youth Political and Civic Engagement

The Youth Political and Civic Engagement cohort , co-led by the Government of Ghana, the Government of Nepal, the European Commission, AfricTivistes, the European Partnership for Democracy (EPD), and the European Youth Democracy Network (EDYN), explored ways to implement Summit commitments on youth political and civic engagement.  Key outcomes include:

  • A handbook on youth participation;
  • Competitive micro-grants for local organizations focused on youth civic and political participation;
  • Recommended commitments that governments can adopt to prioritize youth civic and political engagement, for example action plans to promote and advocate for their inclusion; and
  • The creation of a Global Index on Youth Democratic Participation.

Official news published at https://www.state.gov/summit-for-democracy-democracy-cohort-outcomes/

originally published at Politics - JISIP NEWS