Biden holds second democracy summit amid doubts over progress

The second Summit for Democracy, which the US is hosting virtually this week, will bring together world leaders. Critics of the Biden administration claim that this event demonstrates the administration’s halting progress in promoting human rights and democracy as a priority of its foreign policy.

Starting on Wednesday, the event will feature 120 nations, civil society organizations, and technology firms and will include key strategic nations like India, Poland, and Israel where rights organizations have voiced concerns about the state of democracy.

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Although there is little evidence that the countries attending the summit have improved their democracies, rights advocates have praised the administration for highlighting democracy. They also claim that there is no formal mechanism to hold participants to the modest commitments made at the first meeting.

The administration has also been reluctant to make the hard choices needed to show it is putting human rights at the heart of its foreign policy, experts said.

“I think this administration, like any other administration, has just found that that is too difficult,” said Tess McEnery, who worked on human rights issues in the Biden administration until August 2022 and is now with the Project on Middle East Democracy.

She added that because the US is unable to drastically change the relationship with countries vital to its strategic interests like India, “instead we have a summit.”

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