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Club de Madrid presents proposals for the protection and renewal of democracy ahead of US Summit for Democracy – PRNewswire

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It is time to rethink democracy
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Nov 03, 2021, 08:00 ET
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MADRID, Nov. 3, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — Following the conclusion of its Annual Policy Dialogue 2021 ‘Rethinking Democracy’, Club de Madrid, the largest forum of democratic former Heads of State and Government working to strengthen inclusive democratic practice, calls citizens and leaders to protect, nurture and promote democracy. In the Dialogue’s Concluding Document ‘Club de Madrid’s Commitment to Democracy’, the organization offers actionable proposals to ‘rethink’ democratic systems
Twenty years after its foundation, Club de Madrid is set on changing the notion that democratic systems cannot deliver anymore. Lack of trust in institutions, increasing inequality, persistent patterns of social exclusion, self-serving elites, lower social mobility, political polarisation and rising authoritarian tendencies, are only some examples of the challenges confronting democracy worldwide. While all of it precedes COVID-19, the pandemic has exacerbated these challenges. 
By organising this Policy Dialogue in collaboration with the Bertelsmann Stiftung and a wide array of partners including the Alfred Landecker Foundation, the German Federal Foreign Office, Boston Global Forum and Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Cooperation and the EU, Club de Madrid presents a set of far-reaching proposals to adapt our leadership styles, information ecosystems and institutional settings to the realities of the 21st Century.
In the Dialogue’s Concluding Document, Club de Madrid reaffirms its conviction that liberal democracy is the best system of government. Club de Madrid welcomes the upcoming US-led Summit for Democracy and as a member of the Summit’s civil society working group on authoritarianism, invites organisers to extend its objectives beyond the immediate geopolitical interests of any country.
The Concluding Document calls for the creation of an international peer-review mechanism on democratic practice and the appointment of a UN Special Rapporteur for Democracy. Democratic states and the international community must be more proactive in countering democratic backsliding and should act sooner at signs of concentration of power, erosion of the rule of law, attempts to undermine the judiciary, attacks on media and civil society organizations, among other authoritarian practices. Responding to democratic backsliding before it is too late requires early warning mechanisms followed by decisive action.
Contemporary authoritarianism is an existential test for democratic societies. To that end, Club de Madrid expresses concern over how illiberally inclined states increase their influence in regional and international organizations. Democracies should work together in opposing and countering interferences from authoritarian regimes – transnational repression, cyberattacks, disinformation, digital authoritarianism and economic coercion.
Democratic governments must work to make sure multilateral institutions reflect the values and principles of democracy, particularly fundamental human rights. Their promotion should be at the center of all domestic and foreign policy. Following this commitment, Club de Madrid asks democratic nations to tread carefully when engaging with authoritarian regimes, as the latter can often seek legitimacy and perpetuation by offering small concessions.
Corruption remains a dangerous threat. At a time of massive investment from COVID-19 recovery funds, governments must reaffirm their commitment to ending impunity for corruption offences. Club de Madrid’s Concluding Document calls for strengthening international cooperation in combating corruption and invites states to consider proposals for establishing an International Anti-Corruption Court.
Excessive polarisation and populist movements can cripple a democracy, endangering neutral political institutions and norms. Political nationalism and the increasing use of divisive rhetoric threaten democratic societies. It is important to prevent these from leading into any form of authoritarianism.
Club de Madrid encourages governments and international organisations to address unattended social problems fuelling polarisation. In line with UN Secretary General, Antonio Guterres’ demands for a renewed social contract, Club de Madrid advocates for a 2025 World Social Summit to better advance the international development agenda.
Online disinformation and hate speech also drive and feed political polarisation. Democracies must establish information ecosystems that support a safe, healthy, and fully functioning society. The Concluding Document calls for democratic nations to support high-quality journalism, public interest media and radical transparency in the access to information. States should also work together to guarantee users’ rights and adopt rules that limit monopolistic practices of social media companies. 
Responsible political leadership is crucial to combating democratic backsliding, so is corporate and civil society leadership. Club de Madrid sees the need for far-reaching changes in the culture and practice of leadership recruitment. There should be more emphasis on ethical convictions, integrity, commitment to the common good and team building.
Democracy also requires a culture based on principles and values. Club de Madrid calls on the establishment of civic education in early childhood, primary and secondary education to achieve greater civic literacy. Democracies should put forward mechanisms to build citizens’ capacity to engage in policymaking, particularly youth´s engagement in politics, including young women and girls, and the promotion of intergenerational dialogue.
SOURCE Club de Madrid
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