On 29 and 30 March 2023 the Netherlands will be one of the co-hosts of the second Summit for Democracy, organised by the United States. The other co-hosts are Costa Rica, Zambia and South Korea. Around the world, democracy and human rights are under threat. Together, we must do everything we can to ensure that democratic principles are not further undermined.
Programme Summit for Democracy
During the first day of the Summit for Democracy, the political leaders of the four co-host countries will each chair a session on the challenges democracies face and the potential ways we can respond. Prime Minister Rutte will chair a session on the theme ‘Democracy– Delivering Justice for All’.
On 30 March, the Netherlands, as co-host for the broader European region, will also hold an event on media freedom. The Netherlands is working around the world to protect and promote fundamental principles such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights. Freedom of expression is a precondition for a well-functioning democracy, and the media play a key role in this regard. The media have the platforms and resources to develop ideas and stimulate the public debate, so that people can make up their own minds.
Freedom of the press and independent media can never be taken for granted, however. In many countries, including in Europe, media freedom is under threat and women journalists in particular are the targets of abuse. Read more about what the Netherlands is doing to promote freedom of expression, internet freedom and independent journalism around the world.
Freedom of expression is a precondition for a well-functioning democracy, and the media play a key role in this regard. The media have the platforms and resources to develop ideas and stimulate the public debate, so that people can make up their own minds. A total of 85% of the global population are experiencing a decline in media freedom in their respective countries. In Europe too, media freedom is under threat; as stated in the most recent annual report from Safety of Journalists Platform: ‘War in Europe and the Fight for the Right to Report’.
The advent of social media has made it possible for anyone and everyone to share their views with the rest of the world. But social media can also be used to spread fake news. And what can we do to stop women journalists being the targets of online abuse? Legislation to protect freedom of expression online must be improved in order to counteract hate speech, online threats and the dissemination of disinformation. In addition, digital platforms need to pay more attention to the basic principles of journalism, so that dialogue can take place in an ethical, respectful manner.
Strengthening free, diverse and independent media
The coronavirus pandemic and the emergence of all sorts of online platforms meant a loss of advertising revenue for traditional media and newsrooms were forced to cut jobs. This has put pressure on independent journalism. The financial viability of free media is important for us all. How can we increase resilience in this regard? It is also vital that all population groups are seen and heard in the media. Diversity and gender equality are essential, not just in the production process but also in terms of content.
Frequently asked questions Summit for Democracy
The Summit for Democracy is a digital summit, organised at the initiative of US President Joe Biden. Its focuses include protecting countries from authoritarianism, promoting human rights and combating corruption. Political leaders of the four co-hosts – South Korea, Zambia, Costa Rica and the Netherlands – and President Biden will each chair a session on 29 March 2023 on the challenges that democracies face and possible responses. The session that Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte will chair will address the theme ‘Justice for All’.
On 30 March 2023 the Netherlands will hold an event for the wider European region on the theme of media freedom.
The summit is aimed at highlighting the importance of a well-functioning democracy and a free society that has access to reliable, independent information, where the press is free and the safety of journalists is guaranteed. The Dutch contribution on 30 March will focus on these last points in particular.
Protecting freedom of expression, ensuring a free internet and keeping journalists safe are among of the main priorities of Dutch human rights policy. Human rights are the foundation of a democracy. The Netherlands is working around the world to protect and promote fundamental principles such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights. These freedoms are under pressure worldwide. As co-host of the Summit for Democracy, the Netherlands will make an active contribution to the independent position of journalists and media organisations worldwide.
The Summit has 3 core pillars:
strengthening democracy and defending it against authoritarianism;
tackling and combating corruption;
promoting respect for human rights.
Following the first Summit, which took place virtually on 9 and 10 December 2021, the Netherlands has been working with the United States and the governments of Costa Rica, Zambia and South Korea to organise the second virtual Summit on 29 March 2023. The next day, 30 March, meetings will be held in each of these countries with representatives of government, the private sector and civil society. Between the 2 summits in December 2021 and March 2023, the Netherlands has been working with the US government and the other partners on a Year of Action to achieve the Summit’s objectives and fulfil the commitments that were made at the first Summit.
Most of the programme of the first Summit on 9 and 10 December 2021 was partly livestreamed. Information on how you can watch the second Summit will be shared widely as soon as the information is available.
On 30 March the Netherlands will hold a high-level, hybrid, multi-stakeholder event (in a talk show format) for the European region, with a focus on media freedom. The event will bring together a range of parties, including government representatives, civil society organisations, renowned journalists, human rights defenders, academics and the private sector.
A select group of representatives from these groups will be personally invited to participate in this hybrid event in The Hague. Anyone else who is interested will be able to watch the event live online. More information will be available soon.
The results of an event organised by and with representatives of civil society, to be held by Free Press Unlimited on 29 March 2023, will also be presented at the talk show on 30 March. Questions about this event can be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Dutch government is working with civil society at regional, national and European level on processes of democratic renewal and on designing and implementing specific commitments and results for the Summit. The relevant civil society organisations are being involved in this partnership in a meaningful way geared towards collaboration.
The second Summit will bring civil society representatives together with government representatives from the wider European region. An event will also be held by Free Press Unlimited on 29 March. The outcomes of this event will be discussed at the talk show on 30 March. More information will be available soon.
Finally, countries and civil society organisations are working together in the various ‘Democracy Cohorts’ as part of the Year of Action. Stakeholders involved with the theme of media freedom come together in the Media Freedom Cohort, co-led by the Dutch and Canadian governments as well as Internews. Almost 30 countries are taking part in this cohort, together with over 70 representatives of civil society, foundations and the private sector. The cohort is working to make progress on commitments made at the Summit. The outcomes of the Media Freedom Cohort will be presented at the talk show on 30 March.
All democracies, including the Netherlands, are facing challenges. Participation in the Summit gives governments, civil society and the private sector the opportunity to make public practical commitments to promote democracy, human rights and the fight against corruption at home and abroad. During the Year of Action the Netherlands and our partners have been actively engaged in implementing more than 750 commitments that were made at the first Summit. These include commitments to legislative reforms, efforts to ensure foreign support to reach its goals, international advocacy and compliance with international norms.
The Netherlands has for example pledged €15 million to ensure the safety of journalists worldwide. Through two new projects with a budget of €20 million, funded through the Human Rights Fund grant policy framework ‘Safety for Voices’, the Netherlands will over the next five years contribute to the physical, legal, digital and psychosocial safety of at-risk journalists and other media workers.
Collaboration is essential to protecting and promoting fundamental principles such as democracy, the rule of law and human rights. The Summit provides an occasion to highlight the importance of this collaboration. It is also a chance to strengthen partnerships between national and local authorities, lawmakers, civil society, international and transnational organisations, philanthropic institutions and the private sector.
At the Summit itself government representatives will join with these partners to advance and strengthen practical initiatives to protect and promote these principles. Partnerships with civil society are vitally important to achieving the Summit’s objectives. By making use of the influence of the private sector, countries can work together on innovative, high-impact initiatives in areas of concern and make progress on these initiatives.
Together with the US, which took the initiative for the Summit, and co-hosts South Korea, Zambia and Costa Rica, we are inviting the broadest possible range of countries to take part in the Summit.
We will continue to collaborate with participants in the Summit and with other governments, lawmakers, civil society and international and transnational organisations worldwide to resist democratic backsliding, promote respect for human rights, and combat corruption at home and abroad, both at the Summit and beyond.