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Key messages of Club de Madrid President Danilo Turk at Annual Policy Dialogue Oct 27, 2021 “Rethinking Democracy”

On this, the Twentieth anniversary of its foundational conference, Club de Madrid wants to mobilise a critical mass of support to discuss, define and advocate a much-needed Democratic Renewal.

During the next three days, experienced political leaders and thinkers, as well as practitioners and civil society leaders from around the world will gather to identify good practices and innovative ideas that will help us in the task of crafting actionable recommendations, with the objective of rebooting old and new democracies alike.

This 2021 Annual Policy Dialogue aims to facilitate, promote and support a set of recommendations aimed at protecting, preserving and revitalising a kind of democracy that will prove effective for democratic actors at a global and national scale. In this process, we have focused our preparatory work on three specific challenges, considered key in rethinking democracy today: the new information ecosystem, responsible leadership, and resilient institutions.

For this purpose, we have established a network of partners, nearly 50 organizations of diverse nature and from all over the world, but all committed to strengthening contemporary democracy. They are like-minded organizations, institutions and individuals that have contributed to the content development of this Policy Dialogue.

But the Policy Dialogue we are starting today is only one step in an important process. We hope to continue working with all of you taking these recommendations forward as we seek impact and positive change to strengthen democratic values and practice.

Let me highlight that, in coordination with our network of partners and with the guidance and insights of our three Working Groups Leaders we have produced a set of position papers that will serve as the basis of our discussion in this Policy Dialogue. These papers are available in our platform.

The first Working Group is focused on the New Information Ecosystem and on how to reconcile truth, trust, and freedom of expression in today’s democracies.

The Second Working Group centered its work on Responsible Leadership and Democracy from the perspective of values and accountability.

The third and last Working Group focused on the issue of Resilient Institutions for Resilient Democracies

This 2021 Annual Policy Dialogue is not taking place in a vacuum. Our reflections on Rethinking Democracy are necessarily colored by the particular context of the COVID-19 pandemic. While some of us may be beginning to feel that the worst is behind us, millions of people, many of them in democratic countries, are still struggling with the threat the virus has been posing to lives and livelihoods for over 18 months.

Earnest and resolute reflection on democracy is critical at present, as it is regarding our ability to build back, or forward, better after the pandemic. Building back better requires policies that will address the existential challenges of our time, such as the risks and the opportunities that digital transformation brings to protect fundamental rights. Without their protection and promotion, we cannot build healthy democracies.

Club de Madrid and the Boston Global Forum (BGF) have been working for a few years on the potential of digitalization as a driver of democracy and multilateralism. A better world after COVID 19 pandemic will have to be a rights-based digitalized world. And it will have to be organized multilaterally. In this context, a global norm-setting initiative is imperative to put technology at the service of people.

We will continue working to contribute to global consensus-building around a democratic, rights-based agenda for the governance of Artificial Intelligence and digital societies. Our efforts will feed into the work of the Boston Global Forum AI World Society and its initiative on “Remaking the World – Toward an Age of Global Enlightenment”, which will continue to develop and promote a Social Contract for the AI Age as well as an AI International Accord.

We will feed into these efforts by combining policy proposals on fundamental rights in the age of AI and issues-based policy discussions around specific areas where digital technologies and AI are being deployed to achieve democratic rights-based governance of AI and digital societies.