The Korea Herald


S. Korea to host 3rd Summit for Democracy, first apart from US

By Ji Da-gyum

Published : March 15, 2024 - 18:35

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The South Korean government will host the third Summit for Democracy next week, becoming the first foreign country to lead the US key initiative aimed at rejuvenating democracy and defending against authoritarianism.

The three-day summit, themed "Democracy for Future Generations," is set to commence on Monday, with a ministerial conference and multistakeholder roundtable discussion on "Artificial Intelligence, Digital Technology and Democracy," the South Korean presidential office announced Friday.

"The government's hosting of the third Summit for Democracy reflects the international community's high trust and expectations in our democratic leadership," the presidential office said in a statement.

"Our aim with this summit is to contribute to the advancement of global democracy by sharing Korea's experiences and achievements in nurturing and developing democracy with the international community. By doing so, we will further substantially push ahead with the government's vision of positioning Korea as a global pivotal state."

The first summit was hosted by US President Joe Biden in December 2021, while the second summit was co-hosted by South Korea, Costa Rica, the US and Zambia in March 2023.

Themed discussions and workshops, led by both domestic and international civil society, are scheduled to take place Tuesday, according to the presidential office.

The upcoming third summit's main session is to convene via videoconference Wednesday evening.

President Yoon Suk Yeol will kick off the virtual summit alongside Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen and Kenyan President William Ruto. Each of the three countries -- South Korea, Denmark and Kenya -- will host their own respective sessions.

Yoon is scheduled to lead the second session, focusing on "Technology, Elections and Fake News." The first session will address "Inclusive Society and Empowerment of Youth," while the third session will discuss "Global South and Governance Partnership."

Additionally, participating leaders will deliver messages on democracy for future generations during the fourth session, which marks the conclusion of the virtual summit.

"The summit, held under the theme of 'Democracy for Future Generations,' aims to instill confidence in democracy among the world's youth, who are the leaders of the future, while also serving as an opportunity for them to actively voice their opinions," the presidential office said.

Throughout the summit, various discussions will take place, and proposals to enhance the innovative capacity of global youth will be announced, according to Yoon's office.

However, the presidential office did not provide further details, including the list of participating countries and leaders for the summit.

Kweon Ki-hwan, South Korea's deputy foreign minister for multilateral and global affairs, said the summit will primarily focus on two topics in his contribution to the government-run Korean Culture and Information Service, which was released Thursday.

The first theme revolves around the "impact of rapidly developing new technologies like AI on democracy for future generations and the response of the international community."

The South Korean government will share its approach to utilizing new technologies for the benefit of humanity without undermining democracy, and will seek cooperation toward this objective during the first day's events, according to Kweon.

The second topic emphasizes the active participation of young people, with events featuring youth speakers throughout the three-day summit. Additionally, the Korean government will announce follow-up projects aimed at supporting the challenges faced by the younger generations.

Kelly Razzouk, US National Security Council special assistant to the president and senior director for democracy and human rights, on Wednesday also highlighted that this year's summit occurs "at a critical moment during what has been called the year of elections."

"We are at an inflection point. Globally, 2024 could be one of the most consequential election years in history," Razzouk said at a briefing, noting that national elections are expected in 40 countries, which collectively represent about half of the world’s population.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who leads the US delegation, is scheduled to arrive in South Korea on Sunday to attend the Summit for Democracy.

On the sidelines of the summit, South Korean Foreign Minister Cho Tae-yul and Blinken are scheduled to hold separate bilateral talks Monday in the form of a luncheon, the Foreign Ministry in Seoul announced Thursday.

The Foreign Ministry said that Cho and Blinken were expected to discuss avenues for democratic cooperation between the two countries, ways to strengthen the alliance as well as matters of mutual interest, including the situation on the Korean Peninsula and regional and global affairs.