Democracy, Human Rights, and Governance (DRG) programs are essential for a vibrant civil society and independent media. Without strong political institutions and governments responsive to its citizens’ needs, efforts to maintain other areas of development and growth of civil society are at a greater risk of failure.
What does it buy?
DRG programs improve participation and inclusion by educating citizens on voting and civic engagement, as well as training domestic election observers. Programs enhance accountability and transparency, incentivizing ruling elites to support reforms that are more inclusive and accountable. These programs strengthen human rights defenders’ and national human rights institutions’ capacity by training justice and security sector personnel on human rights norms and practices. DRG programs provide technical leadership through research, training, and dissemination of best practices in anti-corruption, security sector reform, and legislative strengthening.
Why is it important?
Governments responsive to their citizens’ needs are better equipped to handle the challenges of maintaining sustained development, bolstering other areas of investment.
On average, countries undertaking the process of democratization experience a 20% increase in GDP over a 25-year period.
Democracy can better ensure the rights and participation of largely disenfranchised groups within a society.
Ineffective government institutions with high levels of corruption and weak rule of law have 30% to 45% higher risks of civil war, conflict, and violence.
At nearly every income level, democracies, on average, generate superior levels of social welfare, even at the lowest income category (below $500 per capita GDP).
A study of 17 emerging nations in Africa demonstrated a measurable improvement in the quality of governance following a shift towards democracy.
A similar study of 118 countries found that democratic systems correlate with significantly improved health outcomes.
Ineffective government institutions, with high levels of corruption and weak rule of law have 30% to 45% higher risks of civil war, conflict, and violence.
Why should Americans care?
DRG programs make the world safer for all by promoting American values and supporting efforts to achieve economic and political self-determination and realize individual rights.
Investment in DRG programs is cost-effective for achieving U.S. foreign policy goals. Stable democracies advance economic freedom and regional security, making them better trading partners and providing more opportunities for U.S. businesses. In an interconnected world, state stability transcends borders and regions, especially when it comes to terrorism and disease.
The condition of human rights and democracy has worsened in 80 countries since the pandemic began. In the wake of COVID-19, as disinformation spreads, crackdowns on civil society persist, democratic backsliding increases, and autocratically-minded leaders undermine democratic norms—the necessity for the continued support of DRG programs has taken on a renewed sense of urgency.
What more could be done?
The state of global democracy is always in flux. More significant U.S. leadership and investment could help sustain positive trends and seize new opportunities when new openings emerge in the democratic space.
Additional funds could increase global resistance to Russian and Chinese disinformation tactics, preventing them from spreading disinformation, interfering in election processes, and destabilizing American allies.
Governments persecute marginalized communities—such as LGBT+ people, women, and religious and ethnic minorities—in many places across the globe. Stronger U.S. leadership would provide greater support for programming that seeks to protect at-risk communities.
Additional funds could increase programming that combats corruption, weak rule of law, and other anti-competitive behaviors that adversely impact U.S. economic interests and American security.
Emerging democracies continue to need assistance as backsliding into repressive regimes and autocracy is more likely in the early stages of a country’s democratic journey.
Funding levels may not accurately reflect those in the appropriations bills and/or reports due to rounding.