Ask any person working on democracy issues — off the record — about President Biden’s Summit for Democracy, and you get eye rolls followed by a litany of unflattering reviews, including from U.S. government officials.
I too have criticized aspects of the Summit. The organization and decision-making processes have been disorganized, opaque, and not inclusive. Participant selection has been confusing and arbitrary. Nonstate actors — civil society, political parties, media, political opposition — have had a limited role at the main stage events. Democrats — lower case “d” — from non-democracies have been excluded. Country commitments (where they exist) lack innovation and substance. Civil society and allied governments were encouraged by the U.S. to form thematic cohorts after the first Summit, but then were offered no support, resources, or direction. I could go on.