Revitalizing Democracy Support in Troubled Times | Freedom House

Mark Palmer Forum for the Advancement of Democracy Annual Conference

Revitalizing Democracy Support in Troubled Times

Thursday, September 8, 2016
9:00 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Registration and breakfast will begin at 8:30 a.m.

Freedom House
1850 M Street NW
Suite 1100
Washington, D.C. 20036

The world has experienced a decade of decline in democracy, and the downward trajectory is accelerating. Nativist sentiments in the United States and Europe are weakening support for the liberal world order, while China is increasingly assertive in projecting its hard and soft power and its anti-democratic model. Citizen activism meanwhile offers new opportunities and innovation for change in repressive environments. The annual conference of the Mark Palmer Forum for the Advancement of Democracy will explore new policies and initiatives for these troubled times, with a focus on U.S. foreign policy, China, and citizen activism.

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Event Program

Watch Live! Livestream the event here:

Morning Keynote Speaker — 9:00 a.m.
The Honorable Ben Cardin
Ranking Member, Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Introduction by Mark P. Lagon, President, Freedom House

Session 1 — 9:30 a.m. U.S. Policy in Defending Democracy

Growing nativist sentiments and public skepticism about international engagement are limiting U.S. capacity to support democracy abroad, even as the EU increasingly turns inward and the liberal world order comes under growing strain. Given these constraints, how can the next U.S. administration best defend democracy? What are the most effective diplomatic initiatives and resource priorities? Click here for the video recording of the panel discussion

Richard Fontaine 
Center for a New American Security

Shannon Green
Director and Senior Fellow, Human Rights Initiative
Center for Strategic and International Studies

Suzanne Nossel
Executive Director
PEN American Center

Jackson Diehl 
The Washington Post

Coffee Break — 10:40 a.m.

Session 2 — 10:50 a.m. China: Repression and Response

Under President Xi Jinping, China has grown more repressive domestically and more assertive internationally in challenging democratic values. What do these trends portend for China’s future? How does repression in China affect U.S. interests? How can the United States and other democratic powers move to support human rights more effectively while maintaining dialogue with China? What can be done to better respond to the influence of China’s soft power? Click here for the video recording of the panel discussion

Sarah Cook 
Senior research analyst for East Asia
Freedom House

Andrew Nathan 
Professor of Political Science
Columbia University

David Shambaugh 
Director, China Policy Program
George Washington University

Rana Siu Inboden 
Robert S. Strauss Center for International Security and Law
University of Texas at Austin

Mark P. Lagon 
Freedom House

Lunch — 12:00 p.m.

Afternoon Keynote Speaker — 12:30 p.m.
The Honorable Gordon H. Smith
President and CEO, National Association of Broadcasters

Introduction by Olin Wethington, Board Member, Freedom House

Session 3 — 12:50 p.m. Citizen Activism in the Digital Age

Political dynamism now emerges mainly from grassroots activism and informal networks, usually incubates and grows online, and often includes elements of artistic expression. This session features activists from different political environments providing show-and-tell of the cutting edge of modern activism. Click here for the video recording of the panel discussion

Hala Aldosari 
women’s right activist, Saudi Arabia

Masih Alinejad 
My Stealthy Freedom, Iran

Thandeka Kathi
Senior Researcher, Local Government Programme
Social Justice Coalition, South Africa

Engin Önder 
140journos, Turkey

Christian Caryl
Managing Editor, Democracy Lab
Foreign Policy