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How Democracies Can Respond to the Invasion of Ukraine

Laura Thornton of the German Marshall Fund considers how democracies can modify their approaches to promoting and protecting democracy in the wake of Russia's unjustified invasion of Ukraine. The war itself is about democracy, and autocrats are increasingly forging alliances and threaten democracy through the use of a "nonkinetic toolbox" of techniques such as malign finance, civil society subversion and disinformation operations. The author urges democratic nations to take decisive action in the defence of global democracy, as it is a matter of world security, and not just a values proposition. Five recommendations are made:

  1. Democratic nations must get their own houses in order, as erosion in democratic values is a phenomenon that is affecting old and established democracies as well as new.
  2. A coordinated global democracy network is needed, which could take a variety of forms, and would be helpful especially in ensuring efforts complement each other.
  3. Democracy assistance should go after the authoritarian playbook. Countries should learn from success stories and best practices and collaborate on phenomena that require a collective approach, such as the business practices of social media platforms.
  4. Democracy investments, both at home and abroad, should focus on the demand side-- building resilient communities and publics. Democracy support should not only focus on democratic institutions, but should also be sure to address the citizens, who are increasingly targeted by authoritarian, illiberal movements.
  5. Donor countries and democracy assistance organisations must enhance support to democrats in closed societies. Support must not only be targeted in a state-based approach, but should also include training and other support for civil society and journalists.

Read the full piece here in Lawfare.