Declaration of the Summit for Democracy
MARCH 29, 2023
We, the leaders of the Summit for Democracy, reaffirm our shared belief that democracy – government reflecting the effective participation and will of the people – is humanity’s most enduring means to advance peace, prosperity, equality, sustainable development, and security. Democracy is necessary to ensure that every voice is heard, that the human rights of all are respected, protected, and fulfilled, online and offline, and that the rule of law is upheld. We recognize that democracy can take many forms, but shares common characteristics, including free and fair elections that are inclusive and accessible; separation of powers; checks and balances; peaceful transitions of power; an independent media and safety of journalists; transparency; access to information; accountability; inclusion; gender equality; civic participation; equal protection of the law; and respect for human rights, including freedoms of expression, peaceful assembly, and association. To meet the rising challenges to democracy worldwide, we commit to strengthen democratic institutions and processes and build resilience. We acknowledge that freedom and democracy are strengthened through cooperation, and we commit to building stronger domestic, regional, and global partnerships that are more assertive in countering authoritarianism and corruption and that demonstrate that democracy delivers peace, stability, and prosperity for all. We believe democratic institutions, which take time and concerted effort to develop, are best supported by an inclusive society that respects diversity, promotes decent work for all, and enables everyone to freely pursue their aspirations, exercise their human rights and fundamental freedoms, and live without fear of violence and threats to their safety.
Globally, we commit to put the strength of our democracies into action to revitalize, consolidate, and strengthen an international rules-based order that delivers equitable, sustainable development for all people and to deepen international cooperation to accelerate progress on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals. We acknowledge that eradicating poverty is critical to strengthening inclusivity and building confidence and stability in democracies globally. We recognize that democracies that respect human rights are the best means by which to solve the 21st Century’s most critical challenges. We remain united in supporting one another in our efforts to bolster democracy domestically, regionally, and internationally, combat authoritarian trends, advance multilateral and multistakeholder dialogue and cooperation, and safeguard the full and effective exercise of human rights, including civil and political rights, as well as the progressive realization of economic, social, and cultural rights. We are determined to save the present and succeeding generations from the scourge of war. To this end we unite the strength of our democracies to secure and maintain domestic, regional and international peace and security.
We reiterate our firm resolve to support countries and people around the world that adhere to the values of freedom and democracy, against direct or indirect attempts or threats to undermine them. We recognize the fundamental principles of the UN Charter that all states shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state and shall settle their international disputes by peaceful means. We recognize the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense of States consistent with Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations. We underscore the need to reach, as soon as possible, a comprehensive, just and lasting peace in Ukraine in line with the principles of the UN Charter. We deplore the dire human rights and humanitarian consequences of the aggression by the Russian Federation against Ukraine, including the continuous attacks against critical infrastructure across Ukraine with devastating consequences for civilians, and express our grave concern at the high number of civilian casualties, including women and children, the number of internally displaced persons and refugees in need of humanitarian assistance, and violations and abuses committed against children. We are deeply concerned by the adverse impact of the war on global food security, energy, nuclear security and safety and the environment. We demand that Russia immediately, completely, and unconditionally withdraw all of its military forces from the territory of Ukraine within its internationally recognized borders and call for a cessation of hostilities. We also call for the parties to the armed conflict to adhere to their obligations under international law, including international humanitarian law. We call also for the complete exchange of prisoners of war, the release of all unlawfully detained persons and the return of all internees and of civilians forcibly transferred and deported, including children. We strongly support accountability for the most serious crimes under international law committed on the territory of Ukraine through appropriate, fair and independent investigations and prosecutions at the national or international level, and to ensure justice for all victims and the prevention of future crimes.
We acknowledge that protecting and strengthening democratic societies is an ever-evolving process, and that we are all striving towards better adoption and implementation of democratic principles. Such a society contributes to sustainable development in all its forms – economic, environmental, and social – and serves as a foundation for peace. We, the Summit for Democracy participants, call upon other leaders to join us in these efforts.
We are jointly dedicated to:
First, reaffirm our commitments or obligations to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights and fundamental freedoms as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on its 75th anniversary and applicable international human rights instruments. We commit to hold accountable alleged perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses.
Second, commit to respecting the right of all citizens to elect their governments through periodic, free and fair elections, which are inclusive and transparent. We reaffirm that every citizen should have the effective right and opportunity to participate in elections on an equal basis, without undue restrictions, interference, or intimidation, including through systemic discrimination or marginalization. External or internal interference or intimidation in elections, in any way, shape, or form, undermines the right of citizens to select their governments and other representatives. We deplore the use of violence in all its forms, during and beyond elections, including threats targeting elected officials, lawmakers, and other public figures who carry out official duties and responsibilities.
Third, promote and uphold the rule of law and promote equal access to justice for all through a fair, effective, and impartial justice system. We commit to strengthen efforts that focus on people and deliver fair, inclusive, relevant, and timely justice that upholds and respects human rights. We deplore any attempts to abuse legal systems to interfere with the exercise of human rights and fundamental freedoms or to obstruct accountability efforts for human rights violations and abuses, whether at home or abroad, including by unlawfully pressuring, influencing, or raising unfounded criminal charges against judges. We commit to strengthen the rule of law and justice systems that create opportunities for people to participate fully in their economies and societies and that ensure impartial, independent, and accessible judicial systems which provide checks and balances and can hold governments, authorities, and other stakeholders accountable.
Fourth, support civilian control of the military and hold accountable those responsible for human rights violations and abuses, including those committed by non-state actors. We demand that all parties to armed conflict fully comply with their obligations under international humanitarian law including those regarding the protection of civilians, with particular consideration of populations in marginalized or vulnerable situations. We commit to fight against impunity and promote accountability for violations of international law, particularly genocide, war crimes, the crime of aggression and crimes against humanity, including where such crimes involve sexual and gender-based violence. We acknowledge the important role played by the ICC as a permanent and impartial tribunal complementary to national jurisdictions in advancing accountability for the most serious crimes under international law.
Fifth, respect, protect, and fulfill the right to freedom of opinion and expression; enhance access to information and the free flow of information, both online and offline, as a fundamental pillar of building a democratic society; and call on all states to release all political prisoners. We highlight the essential role that a free, independent, diverse, and inclusive media plays in resilient democracies, and commit to ensuring the safety of journalists and other media workers, both online and offline. We commit to investigate, prosecute, and punish threats and acts of violence, within our jurisdictions, committed against journalists and other media workers, and to strengthen and coordinate efforts for their protection in crises and conflict. In this regard, we recognize the central facilitating role of governments and authorities in providing transparent and easily accessible information from official sources promoting media sustainability. We are concerned by the increasing negative impact of disinformation campaigns, which threaten democracy by suppressing political engagement, engendering or deepening distrust towards democratic institutions and processes, and hindering informed participation in political and public affairs. We commit to take appropriate steps, in a human rights-respecting manner, to address threats from, and build resilience against, misinformation and disinformation, and to refrain from conducting or sponsoring disinformation campaigns. We commit to strengthen the resilience of our societies against these threats, including by expanding digital inclusion, media literacy education, and fact checking, as well as fostering intercultural understanding and continuing to counter, by all possible means, the propaganda disseminated by autocratic regimes that undermines the free flow of information in all societies.
Sixth, work collectively to prevent and combat corruption and illicit finance in all their forms, promote good governance, and ensure integrity. We reaffirm our strong commitment to implement anti-corruption measures, consistent with the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNCAC), the most comprehensive international anti-corruption instrument, as well as the commitments made in the UN General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) of 2021 Political Declaration. We also recognize the critical role of the OECD Convention on Combatting Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions, as well as domestic, international, and regional anti-corruption conventions, bodies, institutions, and initiatives. We acknowledge the importance of implementing existing anti-corruption obligations and commitments, including those regarding financial transparency, anti-corruption training, and education, initiating and implementing anti-bribery reforms, and countering illicit finance. We reaffirm our commitment to the effective implementation of the Financial Action Task Force Recommendations. We commit to maintain and build upon existing and effective tools to address all forms of corruption. We reaffirm our commitment to ensuring anti-corruption bodies have the necessary independence and competence, and, where necessary, to strengthening their institutional capacity, in accordance with the fundamental principles of domestic legal systems. We recognize that investigations of kleptocracy, particularly where such investigations involve acts of public official corruption, including embezzlement, bribery, misappropriation of public funds, and related money laundering are critical. We stress the need to promote the wider participation of the private sector, civil society, academia, and the independent media as part of an inclusive, multistakeholder, and holistic approach to preventing and countering corruption and illicit finance. We reaffirm our commitment to provide effective protection from retaliation or intimidation to any person who identifies, detects, or reports corruption-related offenses in accordance with domestic legal frameworks. We recognize the need for effective, efficient, and responsive international cooperation in asset recovery and return and mutual legal assistance without undue delay, to ensure that those who engage in corruption offenses are held accountable for such conduct and are denied the enjoyment of the proceeds of their crimes, and that such proceeds are returned consistent with the UNCAC and domestic laws. We commit to hold corrupt actors accountable, and to take practical measures to deny them the ability to hide their illicit proceeds and access our respective jurisdictions and the international financial system, in accordance with respective domestic laws.
Seventh, respect and uphold the freedoms of peaceful assembly and association as essential components of democracy, both online and offline. Civil society should have the opportunity and space, consistent with international human rights law, to operate, raise resources, represent the views and concerns of society, including persons in marginalized or vulnerable situations, and monitor and advocate to hold governments and authorities accountable. This is essential in building and upholding trust between citizens and public authorities. A strong, independent, inclusive, and diverse civil society empowers communities, contributes to good governance, and provides a voice to the powerless. We commit to promote a safe, accessible, and enabling environment for civil society and human rights defenders, including through the implementation of domestic legislation in compliance with applicable obligations under international human rights law. We support active citizenship, including that of youth, and civic education on democracy and human rights to increase participation in democratic life and guarantee political participation and representation of citizens in all areas.
Eighth, promote respect for human rights and equality for all individuals and combat all forms of discrimination and exclusion on any grounds, consistent with international human rights law, including multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination, including on the basis of gender, race, ethnicity, color, religion or belief, national or social origin, property, birth, indigeneity, disability, sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, pregnancy, political opinion, class, genetic information, or age, and promote inclusion and the full and equal participation of all individuals in marginalized or vulnerable situations, including internally displaced persons.
Ninth, commit to protecting and upholding the human rights of all women and girls in all their diversity. Women’s rights are human rights. We commit to promoting women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation and leadership in all aspects of policymaking and decision-making, peace processes, and governance at all levels, and to ensuring the equal protection of all their rights before the law. We commit to address gender inequalities, including discriminatory structures, social norms, and gender stereotypes, and sexual and gender-based violence, both online and offline, which prevent women’s full, equal, and meaningful participation and enjoyment of human rights. We commit to advancing their sexual and reproductive health and rights consistent with the Programme of Action of the International Conference on Population and Development and the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome documents of their review conferences. The perpetrators of violence against women and girls in all their diversity should be held accountable, and governments and authorities should take appropriate measures to create a safe, enabling, and violence-free environment for all. In order to achieve gender equality, we need the commitment of all, including men and boys, to engage, show solidarity, and participate in the struggle and process of change. We commit to ensure equal access for women in the labor market, especially in returning after the pandemic, to emphasize the education of and increase women’s participation in technology sectors, and to strive to ensure equal pay for equal work or work of equal value.
Tenth, shape a fair, accessible, inclusive, and secure future of work with full, productive, decent, and freely chosen employment, through efforts to respect, promote, and realize fundamental labor rights, including the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and through measures to promote decent work for all including a world of work free from violence, exploitation, and harassment. We recognize that women, persons with disabilities, and all those facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination face additional barriers in the world of work and in accessing decent work, and we commit to tackling these barriers. We commit to protecting and advancing decent work and economic inclusion at home and around the world by protecting the fundamental rights to form and join independent trade unions and employer organizations, and through strengthened labor laws and enforcement. We commit to nondiscrimination, equitable treatment, equal opportunity, and the participation of all in the world of work, in addition to the principle of equal pay for equal work or work of equal value, and international cooperation to strengthen economic resilience in developing countries.
Eleventh, promote an open, free, global, interoperable, reliable, accessible, and secure Internet, and protect human rights across the digital ecosystem so as to enhance the security, prosperity, and well-being of people around the world. We affirm that the ways in which technologies, including new and emerging ones such as artificial intelligence, biotechnologies, and quantum technologies, are designed, developed, maintained, governed, acquired, funded, sold, and used should be shaped by a commitment to democratic principles including equality, inclusion, sustainability, transparency, accountability, diversity, and respect for human rights including privacy. All people should have access to the opportunities offered by technology, with no one left behind, and we recognize the importance of bridging many forms of digital divides, including the gender digital divide, and expanding accessibility for persons with disabilities. In this regard, we commit to champion the importance of inclusion using accessible digital technologies, and we reaffirm a vision of a human-centered, inclusive, secure, and development-oriented information society and technology ecosystem. We underline that existing international law applies to state behavior in cyberspace and continue our efforts to promote the framework for responsible state behavior in cyberspace affirmed by the UN General Assembly.
Twelfth, affirm that the responsible use of digital and emerging technologies has the potential to strengthen democracy and combat corruption, with due respect for the rule of law, and note our commitment to defending democratic institutions and processes from threats related to misuse of technology. We recognize and commit to guarding against the chilling and dangerous effects of online abuse, harassment, and disinformation on the freedom of expression and civil and political participation of women, girls, and populations in marginalized or vulnerable situations and their potential connections to violent extremism.
Thirteenth, promote access to the Internet, protect civic space, enable the enjoyment of human rights online, commit to supporting information communications technology infrastructure projects in underserved communities, and work to prevent government-imposed Internet disruptions and restrictions online that violate international human rights law obligations. We also recognize the importance of ensuring that surveillance technology is used in a manner consistent with democratic principles and with respect for applicable human rights obligations and commitments. We highlight the importance of technology platform accountability and underline that platforms have a responsibility to respect human rights, consistent with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. We expect technology platforms to take appropriate action to anticipate, identify, prevent, and mitigate adverse human rights impacts directly linked to their operations and address violence, exploitation, and abuses taking place on their platforms. We underscore the need for technology companies to behave responsibly, including by enabling robust protections of individuals’ privacy, safety, and health, with a focus on even stronger protections for children and youth, transparency and accountability related to platforms’ algorithms and content moderation decisions, and strong protections against misuse and discrimination related to the use of algorithms, recognizing that populations in marginalized or vulnerable situations are disproportionately at risk to suffer negative consequences. In addition, we stress the importance of strengthening regional and global partnerships to increase collaboration while mitigating the risks posed by new and emerging technologies. We are guided by a commitment to a strengthened multistakeholder approach to Internet governance and more robust cooperation among governments and authorities on relevant public policies issues pertaining to digital ecosystems in order to achieve inclusive, comprehensive, coherent, and enduring solutions.
Fourteenth, reinforce our commitment to the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and protect against human rights abuses, within our territories and/or jurisdictions, by third parties, including business enterprises, by taking appropriate steps to prevent, investigate, punish, and redress such abuse through effective policies, legislation, regulations, and adjudication. We are committed to working towards consensus-based multi-stakeholder efforts that build upon the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights to strengthen international cooperation and consistency, including, but not limited to, protecting rights holders, addressing instances of abuses, and supporting remedy.
Fifteenth, work together to defend against transnational threats, including foreign information manipulation and interference, which includes disinformation that is discriminatory and targets women and girls and populations in marginalized or vulnerable situations. We commit to defend against foreign interference, including in elections; transnational organized crimes; corruption; forced labor in global supply chains; terrorism; and transnational repression, including that of human rights defenders, whatever their origin. We commit to strengthen international cooperation and reinforce our support for an effective multilateral system, including the United Nations.
Sixteenth, affirm that arbitrarily arresting, detaining, and sentencing individuals for leverage in state-to-state relations is unacceptable, unjust, and contrary to international law. We acknowledge the Declaration Against Arbitrary Detention in State-to-State Relations and speak against this practice, recognizing that citizens of any country could be targeted at any time.
Seventeenth, commit to working together to address the most critical global challenges. We are committed to protecting the environment as an essential element in achieving sustainable development and advancing sustainable, inclusive, and functional democracies. We recognize that sustainable development, in its three dimensions (social, economic, and environmental), and a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment contributes to and promotes the full enjoyment of all human rights. Pollution, climate change, and environmental degradation, including loss of biodiversity, and their adverse effects, which includes resource scarcity, shortage of water, and food insecurity, negatively impact the enjoyment of human rights and present a challenge to the social, economic, and political stability of societies around the world, while having a disproportionate impact on populations in marginalized or vulnerable situations. Our cooperation is essential to reduce the adverse effects of climate change and pollution and to halt and reverse biodiversity loss by delivering on global commitments to address these challenges including by scaling up relevant financial resources while advancing more resilient, innovative, and long-term transformative and inclusive governance models that protect a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment. We commit to strengthen transparent and effective democratic institutions that can support global efforts to advance health goals, including building stronger and more resilient health systems, and advancing pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response for all. We also commit to continue to work to build, sustain, and finance the capacities we need to prevent, detect, and respond to not only emerging COVID-19 variants, but also to current and future health crises in a more rapid, transparent, accountable, safe, equitable, and secure manner. International cooperation remains essential to create the systems we need to end the COVID-19 pandemic, save lives, and build better health security and health systems for all.
|Canada||Liberia||Republic of Korea|
|Georgia||Montenegro||United States of America|
* Denotes endorsement with reservations or disassociation from the text of the following paragraphs of the Declaration
Preambular Paragraph 1: Poland
Preambular Paragraph 3: Armenia, India, Mexico
Operative Paragraph 4: India, Israel, Philippines
Operative Paragraph 8: Bulgaria, Dominican Republic, Iraq, Mauritania, Paraguay, Poland, Zambia
Operative Paragraph 9: Dominican Republic, Paraguay, Poland
Operative Paragraph 13: India
Operative Paragraph 17: Malawi