International Day of Democracy 2023September 15, 2023 marks the 16th International Day of Democracy. At GMF Democracy, a nexus of policy and practice, our mission is two-fold: We defend and build democracy.
The erosion of global democratic norms and institutions threatens our freedom, prosperity, and security. Authoritarian states such as Russia, China, and Iran employ disinformation, malign finance, and cyber operations to interfere in elections, shape decision-making, foster economic destabilization, exacerbate existing societal cleavages, and weaken governance.
GMF’s democracy work, comprising the efforts of the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD), the Balkan Trust for Democracy, the Black Sea Trust for Regional Cooperation, Engaging Central Europe, the Fund for Belarus Democracy, and Ukraine: Relief, Resilience, and Recovery defends democracy by analyzing autocratic threats to democratic institutions, processes, and publics, and by crafting policies and strategies to deter, defend against, and raise the cost of making such threats. We build democracy by supporting independent media, civic education and media literacy, monitoring initiatives, and public advocacy campaigns.
As a leader in building democracy alliances and coalitions, GMF raises awareness, shapes the debate, influences policy, changes behavior, and enhances democratic resilience. Our work is focused on the transatlantic community, but we are committed to defending democracy in an environment of strategic competition in which an attack on any democracy has far-reaching repercussions.
To mark this International Day of Democracy, GMF presents below a selection of our featured democracy work from 2023. If you’d like to follow our work, please sign up for our newsletter here.
2023 Theme: Empowering the Next Generation
This year's International Day of Democracy theme, "empowering the next generation", focuses on young people’s essential role in advancing democracy and the need to include their voices in decisions.
In concert with this theme, ASD's David Salvo explains why young people's voices are so important in building and sustaining democracy.
Featured Program: The Alliance for Securing Democracy
The Alliance for Securing Democracy, a nonpartisan initiative housed at GMF, develops comprehensive strategies to deter, defend against, and raise the costs of autocratic efforts to undermine and interfere in democratic institutions.
Innovation is Needed–and Possible
In her latest piece Innovation is Needed— and Possible, Laura Thornton highlights how established democracies, including the United States, often adhere to outdated electoral practices, which leads to growing distrust in their governing systems. This paper explores the reasons for this decline, and offers innovative solutions to revitalize democracy and regain public trust. The solutions outlined aim to address the challenges facing democracies in the 21st century and inspire positive change.
Securing 2024: Defending US Elections Through Investment and Reform
As a result of the 2020 and 2022 federal elections, the job of administering elections has dramatically changed in the United States, and the demands on the dedicated officials that run our elections have also increased.
This report by the Alliance for Securing Democracy at GMF presents 13 specific recommendations for election security reforms that are responsive to the current threat environment and can be advanced at both the federal and state level.
Lessons from Other Democracies: Ideas for Combatting Mistrust and Polarization in US Elections
Protections are baked into each stage of US election administration. However, too many Americans continue to harbor mistaken beliefs about the prevalence of widespread fraud and miscounted votes, as well as concerns about the ability of election officials to administer future elections fairly.
This report provides examples of strategies that draw inspiration from systems and programs in place in other countries, including some which are gaining traction in the United States.
A Year of Disinformation: Russia and China's Influence Campaigns During the War in Ukraine
Russia’s propagandists struggled to control the narrative in the early weeks of the full-scale invasion of Ukraine, underestimating the mettle of Ukraine’s army, the skill of its communications professionals, and the resolve of Western companies and governments to shut down or restrict its media outlets.
Perhaps most alarmingly for Western observers, China has continued to provide rhetorical cover for the Kremlin, all while still maintaining its stance that it’s a neutral stakeholder. With the prospect of greater Sino-Russian military cooperation on the horizon, China’s ability to use its own global influence network to undermine the West—particularly in the Global South—remains a significant cause for concern.
How to Spot AI-Generated Images
Lindsay Gorman, a technology expert at the German Marshall Fund, discusses on “Face the Nation” how to differentiate AI-generated images online from real ones.
ASD Presents Information Integrity Map at the Summit for Democracy
In 2023, The Alliance for Securing Democracy co-chaired the Summit for Democracy's Cohort on Information Integrity with Latvia and Canada.
As part of the summit, ASD released the Information Integrity Map and associated database. The Information Integrity Map showcases organizations around the world that are dedicated to building a healthier information space. The map includes 531 organizations working in 113 countries across four broad categories of activity: fact-checking and verification; media literacy and training; research and monitoring; and policy and standards. The webpage includes the map and a database highlighting these organizations and their resources.
Featured Program: GMF Cities
Cities are the laboratory for the future of democracy. Through transatlantic exchange, GMF Cities works towards inclusive, sustainable, and globally engaged cities.
Global Declaration of Mayors for Democracy
At the Summit for Democracy, GMF, the Global Parliament of Mayors, and the Pact of Free Cities delivered the Global Declaration of Mayors for Democracy. GMF Cities was delighted to announce that 200 mayors from more than 50 countries on five continents have signed the declaration. They include the mayors of Kyiv, Dnipro, and more than 30 other Ukrainian municipalities. City governments are typically the most trusted, given their closeness to residents and voters, and play a key role in bolstering democracy worldwide.
Democracy and the Life of Cities
Written in collaboration with Chicago Council on Global Affairs and co-edited by GMF Senior Vice President Steven Bosacker, this GMF Cities publication examines and challenges the role of cities in generating and strengthening democratic practices in the face of rising authoritarianism.
Impact Stories from Central and Eastern Europe
Standing Up for Democracy: How Serbian Civil Society is Fighting for Survival
The political climate in Serbia has deteriorated in recent years, with increasing corruption and a decline in the rule of law. Concerned citizens and watchdog organizations fear that the country is moving away from democratic principles. Seeking to reverse this trend, the Center for Research, Transparency and Accountability is making waves by promoting democracy and holding politicians accountable.