The Summit for Democracy commitments are out—now what?

Article by Norman Eisen, Mario Picon, Robin J. Lewis, Renzo Falla, and Lilly Blumenthal: “On February 14, 2022, two months after the first Summit for Democracy, the U.S. Department of State released written commitments from 56 governments focused on strengthening democracy, combatting corruption, and defending human rights. Now the post-summit Year of Action can begin in earnest. As two of us discussed in a post right after the Summit, for the event to achieve its objectives, civil society, the private sector, and other good governance champions must work with and hold governments accountable for the implementation of concrete, measurable, and meaningful commitments.

From our initial survey, we observe significant variation in terms of the specificity and nature of commitments published thus far. Here, we offer a brief snapshot of the distribution of countries with published commitments, the range of those commitments, and their significance. Our initial reactions are preliminary; this post offers a roadmap for the deeper reading and analysis of the commitments that we and many others will undertake.

The countries that have submitted written commitments to date fall along the spectrum of governance regimes, as defined by the recently released Democracy Index 2021 from the Economist Intelligence Unit. 53 of 167 countries featured in the index provided written commitments with clear over-representation of those classified as full democracies—18 out of 21 full democracies submitted commitments. Meanwhile, 26 out of 53 countries considered flawed democracies submitted commitments. An even smaller group of hybrid regimes (that is, ones that combine democratic and autocratic features; 8 out of 34 countries) and a minuscule proportion of countries under what are considered authoritarian regimes (1 out of 59 countries) responded to the call for written commitments.

Among these submissions, the nature of the commitments varies. Most countries offer some commitments on the domestic front, but many, particularly the full democracies, focus on the international arena. As examples, the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s commitments include “organizing elections within constitutional deadlines,” while New Zealand’s include a pledge of “1 million NZD to support anti-corruption within the Pacific region.”…(More)”.