Biden to focus on elections and tech at end of democracy summit
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Joe Biden seeks to close his two-day virtual Democracy Summit on Friday by shining the spotlight on the importance of electoral integrity, combating the misuse of technology by authoritarian regimes and strengthening independent media.
The United States, along with Australia, Denmark and Norway, have announced the launch of a joint effort that aims to stem the misuse of technology by authoritarian powers to quell dissent and seeks to help develop new technological innovations that support human rights.
The initiative, in part, calls for the establishment of a voluntary written code of conduct that aims to guide government and tech companies on human rights criteria for export and licensing policy. Under the Global Digital Public Goods Charter, governments, civil society groups, software engineers, and tech companies would declare principles for open source technology products.
âThe United States will take more responsibility for the digital tools we export,â USAID Administrator Samantha Power said. âToo often, technology originates in an innovation hub like the United States and is exported to countries that use this technology to enable human rights violations.
Biden on Thursday pledged that the United States would spend up to $ 424 million globally to support independent media, anti-corruption work and more.
The administration sought to make the virtual summit – a rally that Biden had made a priority during his first year in office – as a jumping off point for the 110 nations invited to attend to collaborate at a difficult time for democracies . Biden wants to call a follow-up meeting next year to take stock.
Biden, in his own assessment, said democracies are in dire straits and called on world leaders to work with him to reverse what he called an alarming “flashback” to democracy around the world.
He did not mention the name of China or Russia when the summit opened. But he has repeatedly argued that the United States and its like-minded allies must show the world that democracies are a much better vehicle for societies than autocracies. This is a central tenet of his vision for foreign policy – one that he says is more outward-looking than the âAmerica Firstâ approach of his predecessor Donald Trump.
Biden stressed that even long-established democracies, like the United States, have not been immune to tension.
“Here in the United States, we know as well as anyone that renewing our democracy and strengthening our democratic institutions requires constant effort,” said Biden.
The rally prompted a reaction from major adversaries from the United States and other nations who were not invited.
Ambassadors to the United States from China and Russia, two countries that did not receive invitations, wrote a joint essay describing the Biden administration as exhibiting a “cold war mentality” that “will stir up violence. ideological confrontation and a divide in the world “. The administration also came under scrutiny on how it went about deciding which countries to invite.
Other leaders at the summit made their own remarks, many of which are pre-recorded, on the state of democracy, often reflecting the stress that rapidly evolving technology is placing on their countries. They also deplored the increase in disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining institutions and elections.
âThe democratic discourse is changing,â Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said. âNew technologies and big tech companies are increasingly paving the way for democratic dialogue, sometimes placing more emphasis on reach than on freedom of expression. “
The summit comes as Biden urges Russian Vladimir Putin to step down after a massive build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border that has sparked growing concern in Washington and European capitals as well as in Ukraine.
Biden said earlier this week that he warned Putin of “grave consequences” if Russia invades.