Today, as we celebrate International Day of Democracy, USAID is proud to support the defense, resilience, and renewal of democracy, alongside our government and civil society partners. In my earliest days as USAID Administrator, I met with leading activists and journalists from around the world to hear firsthand about their experiences as global headwinds gather against democratic progress. Yet, even in the face of serious democratic backsliding and rising authoritarianism, citizens around the globe are standing up to call out poor governance, corruption, and violations of their rights. Over the last 10 years, there has been a 63 percent increase in the number of mass pro-democracy protests.
In order to honor this desire for democracy and build a more just and peaceful world that upholds individual dignity, USAID promotes transparent and accountable governance, helps protect human rights, and supports free and fair elections in over 100 countries across the globe. Our work also strengthens civil societies so that citizens can exercise their rights, hold their political leaders accountable, and ensure strong participation from all corners of society, including diverse and underrepresented groups, to contribute to more equitable and sustainable development outcomes.
USAID is also pursuing bold new thinking to modernize our democracy assistance across the board. This includes supporting governments to strengthen their cybersecurity and counter disinformation and helping democratic actors defend themselves against digital surveillance, censorship, and repression. And USAID recognizes the constant adaptation and vigilance that democracy requires, especially as we work to tackle the shortcomings in our own democracy.
In response to President Biden’s announcement to host a virtual Summit for Democracy on December 9 and 10, USAID is supporting whole-of-government efforts to bring together leaders from a diverse group of global democracies. The Summit for Democracy will incentivize countries to issue commitments and launch initiatives to defend against authoritarianism, fight corruption, and promote respect for human rights. And it will be a chance to demonstrate on the world stage that democracies can govern effectively, partner reliably, and deliver for their people.
We remain steadfast in our belief that democracy is the foundation for protecting the rights and respecting the dignity of all people. It gives citizens the opportunity to choose their leaders, and hold them accountable. Free and democratic societies have healthier citizens, less violent conflict, and more prosperous communities. And in the face of setbacks, USAID will deepen our efforts to advance the vital cause of democracy, human rights, and good governance.