Congressman Cicilline Kicks Off Final Day of Summit for Democracy Legislative Track Sessions

WASHINGTON, DC – Congressman David N. Cicilline (RI-01), member of the House Democracy Partnership and House Foreign Affairs Committee, today delivered opening remarks at the final day of the House Democracy Partnership’s Summit for Democracy Legislative Track Sessions.

The Congressman’s remarks, as delivered, are below.
 It’s a pleasure to be here with you today to kick off the final day of the Summit for Democracy Legislative Track Sessions.
 Events like this – which bring together members of parliaments from countries as diverse as Uruguay and Ukraine, Malawi and Malaysia, are vital as we share ideas and learn from each other.
 This is how we shore up our own democracies – learning new ways to make them stronger, and how we, in tandem, strengthen the norms of free and democratic societies around the globe.
 And we in the United States know how fragile democracies can be.
 Over the past several years, we have seen a growing segment of our population and political leadership that favors turning our back on diplomacy and global partners and saying and doing things that undermine democratic institutions.
 We have faced a rising tide of disinformation that promotes conspiracy theories, creating deep divisions in our local communities and fueling the cynicism that powers authoritarian governments.
 We are not alone.
 In nearly every corner of the globe, human rights have deteriorated under the weight of ascendant autocracies. At the same time, a merciless global pandemic that has sped the decline of democracy and the rule of law in parts of Europe, Asia, Latin America, and here at home.
 This global situation demands that those of us elected to parliaments stand strong for democracy, that we engage with civil society and business leaders to strengthen democracy where and when it is weak, and that we gather as we are doing now.
 I’m proud to be part of the House Democracy Partnership, a U.S. organization that fosters engagement with elected officials around the world, including with many of you.
 I’m also a senior member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, where I have been working to ensure that we provide strong oversight of the executive branch of government.
 We have repealed an authorization for the use of force that allowed presidents of both parties to enter into combat without our approval.
 We have passed legislation that requires the sanctioning of leaders who commit gross human rights violations, including against the LGBTQI+ community.
 And we have condemned those who have committed slaughter, genocide, and atrocities.
 And we’re committed to doing the hard work of ensuring that the House of Representatives has a strong voice in the will of the country.
 I’m hopeful about the ways democracies are taking strong, coordinated actions together against human rights abusers. In March, the United States, the UK, Canada, and the EU issued coordinated sanctions against officials involved in mass abuses against Uyghurs and ethnic minorities in China. As other legislatures around the world take up similar efforts, our efforts will gain power.
 Authoritarians like to think of themselves as strong. They like to think of themselves as the ultimate arbiters of who matters; of who belongs; of who qualifies. But you and I know better. We know that their disinformation campaigns and anti-democratic policies and actions mask the truth: They are weak and they are corrupt.
 A generation ago, it looked as if democracy was the future, that dictators and strongmen were to be consigned to the dustbin of history.
 And yet, for the last fifteen years, authoritarianism has proven resilient.
 But we can and must be more resilient. Let’s maximize the collective strength of the worlds’ great democracies to expose the failings and crimes of small leaders. Let’s work together to make the world freer and fairer. And let us ensure the 21st century is one marked by democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.
 I attended a hearing just last week in the Foreign Affairs Committee where we heard from mayors from four countries struggling with democratic backsliding. It filled me with incredible energy and inspiration to see that they stand for strong democracies and for the everyday people in their cities and they’re serving a very productive role in advocating to protect democratic institutions as mayors of their respective cities – sometimes in very difficult places.
 That experience is a reminder to all of us that, as elected leaders, we can gain hope from each other and inspiration to know that this work is worth doing. Even when times are hard and democracy faces dark moments, we must continue our work together.
 And so, thank you for allowing me to make some opening comments. I’m delighted to be here today with the Honorable Maria Arena and look forward to hearing from the two panels on the power of inclusion, and on centering human rights in all of our work.
 Thank you.



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