In line with his campaign message on foreign policy, U.S. President Joe Biden will host a ‘Summit for Democracy’, virtually, on December 9-10, around three themes: defending against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and promoting respect for human rights. The summit will gather together heads of state, civil society, philanthropy, and the private sector, the White House announced on Wednesday.
A second summit, this time in-person, will follow about a year later, the White House said. “In his first six months in office, the President has reinvigorated democracy at home, vaccinating 70% of population, passing the American Rescue plan, and advancing bipartisan legislation to invest in our infrastructure and competitiveness,” it said.
On foreign policy, the statement said Mr. Biden had rebuilt America’s alliances with other democracies, “rallying the world to stand up against human rights abuses, to address the climate crisis, and to fight the global pandemic, including by donating hundreds of millions of vaccine doses.” Mr. Biden ran for President on a platform that promised an American re-engagement with the world and to “renew” American democracy. In discussion with its foreign partners and on foreign visits, the U.S. messaging has included — sometimes pre-emptively — the idea that democratic norms are under threat domestically as well and they need fixing.
The Summit is seen as one way to counter growing Chinese influence. In his March 2021 ‘Interim National Security Strategic Guidance’ to agencies and departments, Mr Biden had written: “I believe we are in the midst of an historic and fundamental debate about the future direction of our world. There are those who argue that, given all the challenges we face, autocracy is the best way forward. And there are those who understand that democracy is essential to meeting all the challenges of our changing world.”
Wednesday’s announcement suggested that there would be country-wise commitments made at the first summit. “ Following a year of consultation, coordination, and action, President Biden will then invite world leaders to gather once more to showcase progress made against their commitments.,” it said.