In the face of serious backsliding and rising authoritarianism,” said U.S. Agency for International Development Administrator Samantha Power, “we must clearly and unequivocally demonstrate that democracies can govern competently and deliver real results for real people.”
Autocracies are disseminating powerful disinformation to advance a claim that they get the job done in a way that democracies do not. “But that narrative is patently false,” said Administrator Power. Indeed, the V-Dem Institute cites several democracy researchers who have shown that in the 25 years following democratization, democratic countries increase their GDP per capita by 20 percent more than autocracies.
Corruption is one of the challenges facing these regimes’ economies. Economic elites and corrupt politicians can corrode democracies from within, using transnational networks to advance their interests.
USAID has established an Anti-Corruption Task Force (ACTF) to elevate, strengthen, and integrate anti-corruption work throughout the whole Agency and partner with the robust on-going efforts by Departments of State, Justice, and Treasury.
This task force will establish a rapid response mechanism so that USAID can apply its broad range of cross-sectoral programming to quickly seize on crucial windows of opportunity for democratic and anti-corruption reform and will complement the efforts of the State Department. President Joe Biden's new budget commits $50 million for this rapid response effort. USAID will continue to redirect funds away from government institutions and toward civil society organizations whenever that money is being misspent or harms the progress of democracy in a country.
Beyond anti-corruption, Administrator Power said, “we’re helping countries strengthen their cybersecurity and counter disinformation, while supporting democratic actors to defend themselves against digital surveillance, censorship, and repression.”
USAID, along with its partners at the State Department and US Agency for Global Media, is partnering with countries to promote a free and open internet, and to infuse democratic values and human rights principles into the adoption of major new technologies. At the same time, the United States is focused on supporting independent media around the world as journalists face severe challenges from both repressive governments and changing economic realities.
Despite rising authoritarianism in recent years, the data still show that democracy is still the most popular and desired form of government globally, said Administrator Power. The United States is committed to help people across every region who aspire to govern themselves and exercise fundamental freedoms.