Today, President Biden convened the first-ever Summit for Democracy, a forum for leaders from around the world to discuss the challenges and opportunities facing democracies today. As a core U.S. Government commitment toward achieving the Summit’s objectives, President Biden announced the Presidential Initiative for Democratic Renewal, a landmark new set of policy initiatives and foreign assistance programs that will significantly expand and update the U.S. government’s work to bolster democracy and defend human rights globally.
As part of the Presidential Initiative, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has laid out a series of signature initiatives touching each of the Presidential Initiative’s five pillars. These include the following:
Supporting Democratic Reformers
- Through Partnerships for Democracy (PfD), USAID will support countries undergoing democratic openings. This program will help government partners demonstrate that democracy delivers tangible benefits to citizens. USAID will work to bolster locally-driven initiatives not only on democracy and good governance, but across other sectors where tangible improvements would help show the benefits of democracy.
- The White House will launch a global initiative to foster the agency of women and girls, in all their diversity, as a force for democratic change. USAID and the Department of State will lead the implementation of the Advancing Women’s and Girls’ Civic and Political Leadership Initiative. The initiative will adopt a holistic approach to women’s political participation and civic engagement while promoting an environment for them to safely exercise their rights, representation, and leadership.
- Through the Powered by the People initiative, USAID will empower citizen movements – especially peaceful mass movements striving for democratic objectives. USAID will help improve the efficacy of collective action by strengthening these movements’ connections with each other, as well as access to expertise and resources from multilateral institutions, donors, researchers, and civic actors, including youth, women, and LGBTQI+-led movements and organizations.
Strengthening Free and Independent Media
- USAID will support a Media Viability Accelerator, which is meant to increase the business viability of independent media outlets at a time when they face what many call a mass extinction. This effort will deploy market-based solutions to media vulnerabilities, connect stakeholders interested in the future of public interest media, and facilitate relationships among local media outlets.
- USAID will support the International Fund for Public Interest Media (IFPIM), a fund run by leading international media experts which will increase support to independent media to enable their development, sustainability, and independence – especially in resource-poor and fragile settings.
Preventing and Countering Corruption
- Through the Empowering Anti-Corruption Change Agents Program, USAID will support civil society and media leaders in building the capacity and coalitions they need to demand change and engage in collective action. The program will also promote protective measures for whistleblowers, civil society watchdogs, journalists, and others at risk for their work on corruption.
- USAID will launch a global Defamation Defense Fund to shield investigative journalists from defamation lawsuits. The Fund will provide liability coverage to help defend journalists and their organizations from defamation claims and allow them to continue their critical work.
- Through the Grand Challenge on Combating Transnational Corruption, USAID will collaborate with partners and problem-solvers from across the globe to undertake collective actions, develop innovative tools and technologies, and launch joint initiatives to reduce transnational corruption.
- USAID’s Global Accountability Program will surge support to high-vulnerability countries to prevent, detect, and mitigate corruption and build regional networks to take joint action against transnational corruption, kleptocracy, illicit finance, and strategic corruption.
- USAID’s new Anti-Corruption Response Fund will allow the Agency to identify and innovate anti-corruption approaches, support locally-led change, and mobilize in response to either windows of opportunity or situations of increased risk for corruption.
Defending Democratic Elections
- Through the Coalition for Securing Electoral Integrity, USAID will bring together the international electoral integrity community to establish, for the first time, a platform for strengthening cooperation and advancing electoral integrity norms and guidelines.
- Through the Defending Democratic Elections Fund, USAID will help foster solutions that address threats to elections and political processes — including electoral cybersecurity; domestic and foreign authoritarian electoral manipulation; electoral violence, including gender-based violence; illicit domestic and foreign political financing; corruption in electoral equipment procurement and campaign services; election-related disinformation; and barriers to the political participation of marginalized populations.
Expanding Technology for Democracy
- USAID will expand its digital programming in support of open, secure, and inclusive digital ecosystems that advance democracy, counter digital authoritarianism, promote digital literacy and provide equitable access to underserved communities.