The 2024 Summit for Democracy: Challenges and Criticisms

Image depicting the challenges and criticisms surrounding the 2024 Summit for Democracy
The 2024 Summit for Democracy: Challenges and Criticisms

The third Summit for Democracy, initiated by U.S. President Joe Biden in 2021, began on March 18, 2024, in Seoul, South Korea. This summit, the first held outside the United States, has faced criticism for perceived American exceptionalism and double standards, leading to public protests in Seoul. Despite its goals to promote democracy globally, the event has sparked controversy and raised questions about its effectiveness and future.


  • The first Summit for Democracy took place in 2021, involving around 100 governments and resulting in over 750 commitments on various democracy-related issues. The second summit expanded on these efforts, setting the stage for the 2024 event.
  • The 2024 summit, hosted by South Korea under the theme "Democracy for Future Generations," aimed to continue these discussions and commitments.

Protests and Public Reaction:

  • Ahead of the summit, local civic groups in Seoul protested outside the Shilla Hotel, the summit venue, expressing skepticism and opposition to its agenda.
  • The protests underscored broader concerns about the summit's alignment with U.S. interests and its ability to address pressing global challenges.

U.S. Delegation and Domestic Considerations:

  • Despite being Biden's initiative, the U.S. delegation was led by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, with limited participation from other officials. This move was likely influenced by domestic pressures faced by Biden in an election year.
  • The decision to move the summit to South Korea reflected a strategic choice, possibly to alleviate some domestic scrutiny and gain diplomatic leverage.

South Korea's Role and Challenges:

  • South Korea's selection as the host was seen as a gesture to support President Yoon Suk-yeol's pro-American government and boost the country's international standing.
  • However, South Korea faces economic and social challenges, and hosting the summit was viewed as a way to improve public support. Despite this, protests indicated public awareness of the government's motives.

Criticism and Future Outlook:

  • Chinese analysts criticized the summit as a demonstration of America's waning soft power and suggested it may not receive significant attention domestically or internationally.
  • Questions have been raised about the summit's future, particularly if a different U.S. administration takes office, casting doubt on its continuity and impact.

Key Exam Points:

  • President Biden proposed the Summit for Democracy during his 2020 campaign, aiming to unite democracies against authoritarianism.
  • The first two summits, in 2021 and 2022, were virtual due to the pandemic, making the 2024 event the first in-person gathering.
  • The decision to hold the 2024 summit in South Korea was announced in late 2023, following discussions between the U.S. and South Korean governments.

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