On December 9-10, 2021, President Joe Biden will host the long-awaited virtual summit for leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector – the ‘Summit for Democracy’. The summit, according to the US government, will focus on challenges and opportunities facing democracies.
The summit is additionally expected to provide a platform for leaders to announce commitments, reforms, and initiatives to defend democracy and human rights on both domestic and international grounds. More than being an economical affair, this summit is going to be a political and diplomatic meet among the US and its close allies including Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Israel, and Brazil. There will be around 112 participants, along with the European Union.
This summit will look out for what they think is ‘critical for global democratic renewal’. The three key themes of the summit are: defending against authoritarianism, addressing and
fighting corruption, promoting respect for human rights. The US government has officially announced, “These pledges will include domestic and international initiatives that counter authoritarianism, combat corruption, and promote respect for human rights.”
The pledges are important at present as countries like Afghanistan and Myanmar are suffering from severe political crises and undemocratic leaders. The authoritarianism of the Afghan-Taliban leadership will be an important issue to discuss at the summit.
The summit will have eight countries that have failed to have strong democracy rankings on their domestic fronts. These countries are Angola, Congo, Iraq, Kenya, Malaysia, Pakistan, Serbia, and Zambia. Common citizens of these countries have been oppressed on many grounds and reports came out of violation of human rights. Hence, global leaders are questioning these invitations stating why these countries are participating in the ‘Summit for Democracy’ when they have failed to maintain basic democratic standards in their own countries. Countries like Tunisia and Zambia are also facing a political crisis. India, on the other hand, has not received a very affirmative tone from the US President Joe Biden about how the Indian government has been dealing with the Kashmir and CAA issues. These are major concerns for both India and international diplomatic leaders.
Why is it important to India?
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India has received an invitation to join the meet and he has accepted the invitation recently. On the other hand, countries like China and Russia will not take part in the summit.
Pakistan and Nepal will be present at the summit. It is known that both Pakistan and Nepal have maintained a diplomatic distance from India in the recent past after multiple border clashes. Pakistan, on the international front, is known as India’s adversary. But significantly, both Nepal and Pakistan have been close to
China. Beijing is keeping liaison with Kathmandu to build a stronghold against India and also helping the small nation to improve its communication infrastructure. So, this summit is also going to play an interesting role in India’s diplomatic future.
‘Summit for Democracy’ – a summit against China and Russia
However, according to analysts, the Biden administration is building a ‘global coalition of democracies’, to create a counter-platform against China and Russia. The US recently experienced major challenges on the economic front due to the trade war with China, and the country’s supply-side got hammered throughout the year. Xi Jinping’s ‘China model’ on the economic ground has helped the country to recover faster than the US in the Covid-period and also helped their GDP growth. Russia is again emerging as a strong
global leader, both on political and economic grounds. Russia is supplying Covid vaccines to many countries and trying to build up relationships.
TThe US is not appreciating China and Russia’s aggressive positioning, and is trying not to exclude any potential nation that can help Biden’s diplomatic ambitions for this summit. So, along with countries like India, the US also invited Pakistan and Nepal to give them a message that the US government is ready to reach out to them. To counter China and Russia economically, Biden will probably take a political and diplomatic approach to build a strong ally.