Summit for Democracy (Deliberative Democracy Cohort)

President Biden convened the first Summit for Democracy following his election in 2021. The initial Summit focused on some ‘traditional’ democracy topics but tended to omit new and emerging approaches.

newDemocracy was in contact with the US State Department to make the case that arguably Citizens Assemblies were arguably the most promising democratic innovation: in a real-world exercise the government of Ireland had been able to explore challenging reforms using this approach, and the process earned wide public trust. If a Summit for Democracy is intended to show national leaders the way forward, then case studies like this should be essential content.

A ‘cohort’ (working group) could be created with the support of two national governments. The Government of Ireland and the European Commission rapidly agreed to co-sponsor in order to get this onto the agenda – with newDemocracy as the supporting NGO partner. The European Commission, through their Conference on the Future of Europe, had recently delivered a very large-scale deliberative process spanning all member nations (thus adding the major complexity of needing to manage around 30 different languages). This combination of two governments who had conducted deliberative processes at a significant scale was core to our ability to make the case.

The work of the cohort was primarily to convene a range of people with sector experience to produce a shortlist of suggested commitments that would show other governments how to start the same journey that Ireland and the European Commission had been on. These start with the simple for those taking a first step, and range up into permanently institutionalised approaches and suggested structures for international coordination in an 11-item list.

The third iteration of the Summit was held in South Korea in 2024. A recording of newDemocracy’s session is available here — Achieving Public Trust in Contentious Decisions: Understanding Deliberative Democracy in Practice.



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