What we hope to achieve during summit on democracy – U.S. government

"The goal of the invitation list was to ensure the Summit reflects diverse  slate of democracies. We are embracing a big tent, with a clear-eyed recognition that no democracy is perfect. We want to engage, encourage positive change, and learn from shared experience," a State Department spokesperson told Today News Africa on Wednesday.  

The United States government has explained what it expects to achieve during a virtual summit on democracy President Joseph R. Biden Jr. is hosting on Thursday and Friday.

“The goal of the invitation list was to ensure the Summit reflects diverse  slate of democracies. We are embracing a big tent, with a clear-eyed recognition that no democracy is perfect. We want to engage, encourage positive change, and learn from shared experience,” a State Department spokesperson told Today News Africa on Wednesday.  

The spokesperson added, “We expect this event to provide leaders a forum to discuss current challenges and opportunities, and to serve as a platform to announce new commitments, reforms, and initiatives.  The Summit will feature remarks from President Biden and other senior U.S. Government officials, plenary sessions with Heads of State, and thematic sessions with governmental and non-governmental leaders.”

At least 15 African countries have been invited to attend President Joseph R. Biden Jr.’s summit on democracy on Thursday and Friday. The summit’s three thematic pillars are strengthening democracy and defending against authoritarianism; fighting corruption; and promoting respect for human rights.

The 15 countries are Angola, Botswana, Cabo Verde, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ghana, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, and Zambia.

The virtual summit is going to bring together over 100 governments representing diverse democratic experiences from around the world, as well as leading activists, journalists, private sector leaders, and other members of civil society.

President Cyril Ramaphosa hosts a welcome ceremony for his Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya. November 23, 2021. 
President Cyril Ramaphosa hosts a welcome ceremony for his Excellency President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Republic of Kenya. November 23, 2021.

“President Biden is going to convene a broad and diverse group of governmental and nongovernmental leaders from every region of the world to set forth an affirmative agenda for democratic renewal,” a senior administration official told reporters during a telephonic briefing on Tuesday. “And our intention with the summit is to provide leaders a forum to engage, listen, and speak honestly about the challenges and opportunities facing democratic governments and about how democracies can deliver for their citizens.”

Biden Kenyatta 
President Joseph R. Biden Jr. hosts President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Oval Office of the White House on Thursday, October 14, 2021. Official White House photograph

The official added that the summit will also serve as a platform for leaders to announce new commitments, reforms, and initiatives in accordance with the summit’s three thematic pillars, which are, first, strengthening democracy and defending against authoritarianism; second, fighting corruption; and third, promoting respect for human rights.
 
“For our part, the U.S. government will announce at the summit new initiatives and commitments in areas such as bolstering free and independent media, fighting corruption, defending free and fair elections, strengthening democratic reformers, and harnessing technology for democratic renewal,” the official said. “And over the past week, we’ve previewed some aspects of these announcements, including a new effort to work with likeminded partners to better protect dual-use technologies that can be used to violate human rights through export-control regimes.  And also, as of yesterday, we launched the new, first-ever U.S. National Strategy on Countering Corruption.”

U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria, on Thursday, November 18, 2021. 
U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken meets with President Muhammadu Buhari in Abuja, Nigeria, on Thursday, November 18, 2021.
Chief White House Correspondent for

Simon Ateba is Chief White House Correspondent for Today News Africa. Simon covers President Joe Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, the U.S. government, the United Nations, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and other financial and international institutions in Washington D.C. and New York City.

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