Biden to announce funding to bolster democracy globally at second US-led summit
President Biden on Wednesday will address the second U.S.-led Summit for Democracy, seeking to bolster unity among the world’s democratic governments amid war in Ukraine and concerns about backsliding even among some allies.
Biden is set to announce up to $690 million in funding for his administration’s Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, a senior administration official said. The money will be dispersed around the globe to help fight corruption, bolster free and independent media organizations and defend free and fair elections.
Another major theme of this week’s summit will be working to ensure technology is used to benefit democracy. Biden on Monday signed an executive order prohibiting the use of commercial spyware that poses a security risk to the U.S. government or risks improper use by foreigners.
A senior administration official said the summit is intended to highlight “a critical issue of our time.”
“As President Biden has said, we’re currently at an inflection point when it comes to the future of democracy both within the United States and globally,” the official said. “When the president came into office, he said that a defining question of this moment is whether democracies will deliver for their people.”
The summit informally kicked off Tuesday, and Biden will meet Wednesday with the leaders of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, South Korea and Zambia, which are all co-hosting this year’s event.
The Biden administration hosted the first edition of the summit in late 2021 as part of the president’s broader efforts to strengthen democracies globally and combat the influence of authoritarian nations like Russia and China.
Since then, the intensity of the COVID-19 pandemic has waned and Russia invaded Ukraine.
The Biden administration’s efforts to rally democracies in support of Ukraine has been a foreign policy high point of the past year, and it is likely to be mentioned frequently during this week’s summit.
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky is scheduled to address the summit virtually on Wednesday afternoon.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping earlier this month held talks amid concerns from the U.S. that China could provide support to Russia in its war effort.
This week’s summit is also taking place as concerns play out over whether some U.S. allies are backsliding with moves to weaken democratic institutions.
Biden administration officials have raised alarm over a proposal by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to give lawmakers more control over the country’s top court. Netanyahu agreed to pause the judicial reforms in the face of widespread protests this week.
Mexico in February passed a law that critics said weakened the agency that helps administer and oversee the country’s elections.
And Brazil in January saw supporters of former President Jair Bolsonaro storm federal government buildings after he was defeated in the country’s elections last year in images that evoked the chaos of Jan. 6, 2021, at the U.S. Capitol.
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