NIMD at the Summit for Democracy: Shining a spotlight on democracy around the world

On 28-30 March, the world held its second ever Summit for Democracy. Bringing together leaders from government, civil society, and the private sector, the Summit provided an opportunity to increase commitment to safeguarding democracy worldwide.

According to the latest Democracy Index by The Economist, only 8% of the world’s population today lives in fully functioning democracies.

And, although it might seem easy to be despondent, patient and continued investment in democracy is more crucial than ever. Because this is how we set the stage for positive change in the future, particularly in countries where democracy has suffered a sharp downturn.

In this video, NIMD reflects on the importance of investing in democracy. 

Against this backdrop, the Summit presented an opportunity to shine a spotlight on democracy, and how it can improve people’s lives in tangible ways. It was a time to show how open, rights-respecting societies can work together to effectively tackle the challenges of our time. And to reflect on how best to protect democracy worldwide.

The Summit for Democracy was co-hosted by the US, Zambia, Costa Rica and the Netherlands. NIMD attended the Summit activities across the world to join the call to safeguard inclusive democracy.


The Costa Rica Summit

NIMD joined the Summit in Costa Rica as part of the Youth Democracy Cohort. Three of our Democracy School alumni from across Central America joined a panel on youth participation in civic and political spaces.

For these young leaders, it was a chance to use the skills and knowledge gained from their Democracy School training, as they raised their voices and brought youth to the agenda of the Summit for Democracy in Costa Rica.

The speakers shared the consensus that young people, in all their diversity and through all their platforms, must have a voice in political decision making, especially around the issues which most impact youth. The participants advocated for “nothing about us, without us” in policy-making, where youth would have a real role in the creation of the policies that most affect them.

They also discussed the different forms that political participation can take today, among young people. They highlighted not only the importance of access to political roles themselves, but also the impact that young people can make on local and national politics through their participation in civil society organizations. In this new landscape, opportunities for civil society to meet with politicians and have a real influence on policy-making are crucial.

In order to continue to shine a spotlight on youth, the Youth Democracy Cohort, the European Democracy Youth Network (EDYN) and the European Partnership for Democracy also used the Summit to launch a handbook compiling good practices on youth participation, including a story on how NIMD supported young people to co-create youth policies in Guatemala through training and dialogue. The handbook aims to inspire governments and civil society to learn from and adopt these successful examples.


The Zambia Summit

Alumni from Mali and Ethiopia were able to join the Summit for Democracy in Zambia, where they had the chance to share their experiences and expand their network.

Lemi Gemechu Beyene at the Summit


Reflecting on what he learned, Lemi Gemechu, from NIMD’s Ethiopian Democracy Academy, said:

“Attending the Summit for Democracy helped me to connect with like-minded individuals who shared my values and interests. This can lead to the creation of meaningful relationships and global collaborations that can have a positive impact on personal and professional life.”


The Netherlands Summit

In the Netherlands, NIMD joined forces with the Netherlands Helsinki Committee (NHC), The Hague Humanity Hub to hold a special edition of our monthly #DemocracyDrinks, in collaboration with the U.S. Embassy in The Hague and the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The Special Edition #DemocracyDrinks saw high level speakers reflect on the Summit.

Our high-level panel included H.E. Shefali Razdan Duggal, U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands; H.E. Arnoldo Brenes Castro, Ambassador of Costa Rica to the Netherlands; and H.E. André Haspels, Ambassador of the Netherlands to the United States.

Our guest speakers reflected on the Summit for Democracy, shining a spotlight on the urgent importance of inclusive democracy and the values it represents.

Read more about our #DemocracyDrinks.

The #DemocracyDrinks provided a unique opportunity to emphasize the need for renewed commitment to democracy. To further highlight this message, NIMD joined seven other Dutch organizations to call for commitment to democratic values in the Netherlands and worldwide.

As part of the Democracy Under Threat Coalition, NIMD underlined the need for urgent action, alongside Agora Europe, Defend Democracy, Foundation Max van der Stoel, Meer Democratie, Nederlands Helsinki Comité, PAX, The Hague Academy for Local Governance and Transparency International Nederland. It is our hope that commitment to democracy will extend beyond the Summit, and translate into real action in the months to come.

The Democracy Under Threat Coalition organized a series of events across the Netherlands to coincide with the Summit for Democracy.