The Center for Democracy & Technology (CDT) joined 100+ other civil society organizations in endorsing the Civil Society Declaration of Democratic Principles coming out of the 2023 Summit For Democracy.
The executive summary of the principles is pasted below – read the full principles, and the full list of signatories, here.
We, the undersigned civil society organizations, believe that all people share an inherent right and irrepressible desire to live in freedom and make decisions about their own lives. Democracy is the best form of government for ensuring peace, prosperity, sustainable development, and human progress because it is rooted in a recognition of human rights and allows for the orderly reconciliation of competing views and interests. Just as the citizens and institutions within a democracy hold one another accountable for their adherence to democratic principles, so must all of the world’s democracies work together to reinforce shared ideals and confront common threats. In keeping with the goals of the second Summit for Democracy, the undersigned organizations and individuals express their support for the 14 broad democratic principles summarized below, and call on states to take the recommended actions associated with each principle.
- States should protect and cultivate fundamental freedoms and civic space by guaranteeing respect for the freedoms of association, peaceful assembly, and expression.
- States should support election integrity and political pluralism through a robust multiparty system, free and fair elections, and transparency and accountability in election processes.
- States should promote inclusive policymaking by exploring, expanding, and refining mechanisms that give citizens a substantive and visible role in the major policy decisions affecting their lives.
- States should maintain solidarity against authoritarian pressure by publicly spotlighting the cases of persecuted human rights defenders, journalists, and democracy activists; providing them with material support and safe havens; and advocating for the release of those who have been detained.
- States should support media freedom and resistance to disinformation by promoting a diverse and independent media sector, allowing the press to hold public officials accountable, and promoting media literacy at all levels of society.
- States should uphold fundamental human rights on digital platforms by strengthening legal protections for free expression online, addressing digital threats to human security, and enacting data protection and privacy laws that regulate access to and use of personal data.
- States should promote the rule of law and people-centered justice by ensuring that their judicial systems are structurally protected from undue political influence and other threats to impartiality, and increasing meaningful participation by ordinary people in judicial processes.
- States should adopt safeguards against corruption and strengthen international anticorruption mechanisms to trace, freeze, and confiscate stolen assets; identify and deter professional service providers who facilitate or encourage transnational corruption; and ensure that all high-level government representatives can be investigated without fear of retribution.
- States should support gender equality by addressing harmful gender-related norms, stereotypes, and practices that undermine women’s participation in public life, and by reviewing legislation and policies to ensure that they promote women’s political participation.
- States should promote youth political and civic engagement by encouraging political parties and civil society organizations to establish youth branches and recruit young people to participate in their activities, as well as by improving access to high-quality information to increase youth involvement in decision-making.
- States should protect equal rights for people with disabilities by involving them in decision-making processes across all levels of government and ensuring that they can participate meaningfully in politics as voters, candidates, and election officials.
- States should support economic opportunity for all by upholding property rights, promoting free enterprise and fair competition, and guaranteeing the freedom of workers to associate, organize in independent labor unions, and bargain collectively.
- States should protect freedom of conscience and religious belief in public and private by ensuring that religious institutions and communities are able to operate freely, and by upholding the freedom to eschew religious beliefs or decline participation in religious activities.
- States should pursue comprehensive freedom from discrimination and protect vulnerable populations that are not otherwise addressed above, ensuring that all people are able to exercise their fundamental human rights without disadvantage on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other such category.