Photo By: Eduardo Seastres is licensed under the CC BY-NC 4.0 license.
Choose to Invest F.Y. 2023
Democracy is under assault.
Three-quarters of the world’s population now lives in countries where freedom is declining, and Freedom House data indicates 15 consecutive years of decreasing democratic freedoms worldwide. While democracy stagnates, authoritarians are emboldened and work actively to undermine democratic and electoral institutions and values by employing cyber tools; economic levers; dis- and misinformation; and military and political influence to challenge the rules-based international order. COVID-19 further exacerbated undemocratic trends, as autocrats seized upon the pandemic to further crackdown on civic space and fundamental freedoms.
To mitigate these challenges and curb the spread of growing authoritarianism, democracies must be able to equitably deliver services and opportunities for their people. Democratic governance and human rights are foundational to long-lasting peace and inclusive development more broadly. Evidence suggests that life expectancy increases faster in countries that transition to democracy, and such countries also experience approximately a 20% increase in GDP over a 25-year period. In addition to yielding economic and social benefits, democracies are more peaceful. Data suggests that the chance of civil war, conflict, and violence is 30-45% higher in countries with ineffective government institutions, rampant corruption, and weak rule of law.
Foreign assistance to strengthen democratic governance and improve human rights is in the strategic interests of the United States. Democracies are more reliable allies and trading partners, and they serve as the cornerstone of a stable and peaceful international order. A world of strong democracies is safer and more prosperous for the United States—for this reason, the United States must choose to invest in democracy and human rights.
F.Y. 2023 provides an opportunity to build upon efforts to curb what experts have called a democratic recession. Robust funding would affirm the United States’ current commitment to overseas democratic renewal, as evidenced by the first-ever Summit for Democracy in December 2021, and would facilitate the implementation of democratic reforms during the Summit’s ensuing Year of Action. Accordingly, our partners stand ready to support the rule of law, independent civil society and media, free and fair elections, inclusive and transparent governance, and more.
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