This report was originally published by the Westminster Foundation for Democracy? on July 29, 2020.
Despite the liberating promise of the end of colonialism and the Cold War, rising prosperity, and instantaneous global communication, the history of the new millennium, thus far, is one of declining democratic freedoms. This resurgent authoritarianism makes it much harder to tackle the major challenges of the coming decade: climate change, economic recovery, inequality and social justice, and global health security. More than any time in a generation, the strength of the United Kingdom’s own democratic governance and that of its key partners will be the most consequential long-term factor for the United Kingdom’s national security: the post-Covid-19 challenges will require levels of engagement and inclusion that only open, democratic societies can deliver.
International leadership is badly needed. The United Kingdom’s interests, values, resources, and influence call for a leadership role in supporting democratic governance and confronting authoritarianism. The United Kingdom should seize this moment for leadership by putting democratic governance at the center of its approach to foreign policy, development, and national security. This approach should be values-based, recognizing the need to take a clear stand at key moments, but also provide practical support to strengthen democracy through strategic programs using the United Kingdom’s world-class diplomatic, development and soft power tools, adopting a principled approach to multilateralism, and focusing on inclusion. To ensure that these policy goals are realized, the United Kingdom should issue a new integrated cross-Whitehall strategy to defend
established democracies and institutions; support
emerging and struggling democracies; and counter