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The Third Summit for Democracy: A Call to Action from the Deliberative Democracy and Citizens’ Assemblies Cohort

Dear Supporter of the Summit for Democracy,

What do you really want from the Summit for Democracy ?

It starts in South Korea in a just a few weeks and it is time for those who support it to set out an ambitious future. Many supporters of the Summit have felt and expressed frustration with the failure to turn sentiment into concrete progress. Now we understand that the organisers are keen to hear cohort recommendations for calls for action.

This is our contribution-yes, to get a debate going but more importantly to provoke some practical action from the Summit.

The  Citizens’ Convention on UK Democracy website has a section on the Global Democracy Strategy .It is also printed below with links to our clear proposals for action. Feel free to read it, circulate it and not let this opportunity pass by at this vital moment for the future of democracy.

It is an amendable road map on how the Summit for Democracy could become relevant, and feared by autocrats everywhere .

Our proposal takes the form of a letter which has been sent to President Biden as the originator of the Summit.

It explains why & how the Deliberative Democracy &Citizens’ Assembly Cohort (DDCA Cohort) was created to meet our needs for democratic evolution and renewal of trust.

We would encourage every Cohort [or workstream] of the Summit to put forward their own practical agenda and comment and integrate other Cohort’s views.

We call for action on 4 initial & negotiable global objectives to begin a serious debate on the creation of some sustainable Global architecture for democracy-

1. A choice of 11 steps forward for deliberative democracy open to every nation (See Cohort lead Iain Walker from newDemocracy Australia link below)

2. A Global “Marshall Plan” to roll out Deliberative democracy (see link),beginning with an urgent Central & Eastern Europe Action Plan (see link).

3. A global “What Works” organisation for DDCA (see link) – an evidence ,advocacy & advice network available to all nations for free.

4. A global Citizens’ Assembly/Deliberation on Democracy making practical recommendations annually to the Summit (see link)

This is our gift to you to rework as you wish, develop within your own Cohort and in so doing begin to create the meaningful feedback process -hitherto missing-for decision  and progression by the Summit. It is a navigational aid, a North Star for the S4D Cohorts to steer towards.

Let us, the Summit organisers and our other Summit colleagues know what you think.


From late 2021 the CCUKDemocracy led an effort requesting that US President Biden create a Deliberative Democracy and Citizens’ Assembly Cohort as a part of the 140 nation Summit for Democracy .It was a major omission from the list of Cohorts. To the President’s great credit the missing piece of the jigsaw was added. Some of the history of that effort can be found below .For the Summit it was a belated but welcome recognition of modern democracy’s greatest success story-the achievements of the 600 recently created Citizens’ Assemblies.

The Cohort ,drawing on the energy committed by our global wide network of deliberative democrats, worked hard to drive change. The CCUKDemocracy continues to strongly support the Cohort’s programme of work not least the concept driven by Iain Walker and Art O’Leary of a menu of 11 deliberative options being offered to constituent nations. In addition the CCUKD led the creation of  3 project working groups. Each of these designed a simple but  important piece of global democratic architecture -a global “What Works “organisation, a global Citizens Deliberation and a Marshall plan for deliberation. Those proposals were completed and fed into the Summit for Democracy process in January 2023. Sadly the Summit did nothing to progress them ahead of or during  its annual meeting 4 months later. This highlighted the organisational weaknesses of the Summit, its inability to transition from a permanent discussion forum with an Annual summit, into an action oriented organisation using its prestige and reach to build practical improvements, exemplars and resilience in our democracies in the face of the existential threat from autocracy.  

Coming full circle some of the key players put on record by resending those 3 proposals today in the letter below to the US President. Our hope is that should democracies feel so inclined there is a ready-made beginning for  a clear worldwide program of democratic renewal in the time that remains.

“Democracy doesn’t happen by accident. We have to renew it with each generation.”

President Biden opening The first Summit for Democracy December 9, 2021

Dear President Biden,

Background -Making Deliberative Democracy a global power for good.

This paper is a call to action based on the recommendations of the Deliberative Democracy and Citizens Assembly Cohort [DDCA Cohort] of the Summit for Democracy. It makes clear our Cohort’s ideas on the keystone global architecture for democratic deliberation that is required now and how it can be delivered to give real teeth to the rhetoric of  “strengthening a rules based international order for democracy”. 

It was first produced by in direct response to the Summit’s challenge to produce ideas ahead of the 2023 Summit for Democracy. These were produced then registered as Cohort Outcomes by the Summit. In return our challenge to the Summit for Democracy is that it summons its political will to take the Summit to the next level by examining these 3 global proposals and where appropriate implements them.

The paper below is almost entirely the result of the extraordinary voluntary effort by our Working group convenors, Cohort members and network. We will continue to update  these proposals and add new ones in the context of the DDCA Cohort  Leadership’s recent Letter to all Summit Governments which was circulated by the Summit team to engage all democratic Governments on the rest of our 11 Commitments on Deliberative Democracy.

The DDCA Cohort is keen as always to interact with you and your Summit team any other colleagues to take forward any of the thinking these proposals represent.

 What is deliberative democracy?

The work of the DDCA Cohort symbolises that democracy is not a steady state but one which -in the words of President Biden- “requires renewal every generation” if it is to survive and evolve. It is embodied in the exploration and expansion of the many methods of deliberation in recent years. The most stunning yet underplayed success story for democracy is the 600 citizens assemblies of recent years. These offer a full spectrum set of proven and pioneering models to build on existing democracy and give it a sustainable future with citizens fully engaged. Citizens who are not pressurised by party discipline, expensive lobbying or media partiality. Independent Citizens -a microcosm of their locality or nation who can take us beyond crude Yes/No politics. They can offer deliberation and reasoning, listening to the views of others, carefully weighing evidence then coming to considered, shared and nuanced judgements and recommendations. This is not only “democracy in good conditions;“ it is democratic culture at its best – listening, learning and improving. This stands in stark contrast to the divisive and mistrusted practises of much of current global politics.

Deliberative democracy in practice shows that the partnership of citizens with elected representatives and institutions is not only possible but should be institutionally reinforced as a valued, trusted and active part of modern democratic process. It offers hope, inspiration and practical objectives to those fighting against autocracy at home and abroad.

 What is the history of the DDCA Cohort?

Amongst its other invaluable work the Deliberative Democracy & Citizens’ Assembly Cohort set up Working Groups  to consider three topics, a global “What Works “organisation, a global Citizens Deliberation and a Marshall plan for deliberation with others [including the long delayed development of the NATO Centre for Democratic Resilience] deserving consideration.

 We first raised these issues with President Biden in correspondence in December 2021.Many distinguished deliberative democrats  signed the letters about the need to fill an obvious gap in the Summit’s Cohort structure by creating a Deliberative Democracy and Citizens Assemblies Cohort. [The open letters can be accessed HERE.] This request met with a positive response and resulted in the creation of the DDCA Cohort, which then eagerly started work in early 2022.

The 3 Working Groups each met monthly online to incorporate the work done between meetings. A common theme of their work is their basis in evidence, science and impartial methodology. The January 2023 round of Working Group meetings took into account all constructive suggestions from the Cohort and benefited immensely from the comments of the Summit team [composed of elements from the USAID,State Department and Office of Management and Budget ]to move the drafts forward. We list below the Working Group’s attending members to date, with expectations that given the slightest encouragement they will grow and include many more champions from across the globe, not least the underrepresented global south. There are in addition many corresponding members from the vast array of experts who work with the Cohort and its enormous network.

The next steps

The first “setting up” Summit in 2021 took place before the sobering demonstration of autocratic brutality against the new democracy in Ukraine. While lessons need to be implemented on how deliberative democracy can help react to autocracy, equally important is having a clear plan and determination to pre-emptively strengthen our own democracies and build the rules-based architecture of international democracy. Our Cohort’s contribution below is designed to make a start on this task.

The DDCA Cohort currently has no executive capability, its role is to conceptualising proposals. For them to be taken forward now requires the Summit team to develop the ambition to lead  this work to fruition. We will be delighted to continue to help in discussing, agreeing and creating a powerful global agenda that the Summit can take forward over the coming year. The Summit is perfectly suited to take on that role. If not them then who?

We obviously only address the possibilities in our own deliberative democracy and citizens assemblies remit. However, these concepts and structures [a global “What Works “organisation, a global Citizens Deliberation and “Marshall plan” approach for deliberation] are amenable to being applied by the Summit and it’s team to the responsibilities of all the other Cohorts when appropriate ,separately or collectively. We would be happy to engage in constructive conversations with other Cohorts and the Summit team on how that could happen.

For people living under oppressive rule, a democracy which involves them has been an idea and a hope of how a better future can be made. Autocratic power – be it embryonically in our own democracies or in other nations -remains the key threat to democracy and peace.

The largely self-starting citizens’ deliberations which we have seen so far have much to teach us. Yet imagine the impact of conscious organisation by the Summit process over the next year and beyond. Then it could truly play its full part in supporting the resilience and the culture of democracy globally.

 Summary: Proposals for Summit activity

Building on the lessons from previous deliberations and citizens assemblies the DDCA Cohort has commitments to support new approaches to spread best practise and “do democracy better”. We ask the Summit team to commit to building on the work of the DDCA Cohort and it’s working groups with the following practical actions:

1.        Creating a Global ‘Marshall Plan for Deliberative Democracy’ to empower countries with new or fragile democratic institutions by rolling-out and funding deliberative projects. While the Cohorts do not have any resources of their own, those who have worked with us are already initiating some of this action with Central and Eastern Europe given the threat to new democracies there. Building on the existing Action Plan of the Working Group. [Read the Action Plan of the Working Group HERE.] we hope the Summit will make good on the Warsaw promises of 2022 to contribute to redirecting and making more coherent the existing funding for democracy. By supporting this the Summit can help model for every nation the future evolution of new and existing democracies. Find out more about the Global ‘Marshall Plan for Deliberative Democracy’ HERE.

 2.         Building a global ‘What Works Centre for Deliberative Democracy’ by  extending existing networks of trusted global institutions, such as the OECD, USAID’S DRG Center, and UN Democracy Fund. This will act as a clearinghouse of project trials and their success, so nations and NGO’s have access to a single location for clear guidance on elements of successful and unsuccessful democratic innovation projects. Built on the principles and guidelines listed in the OECD ‘Deliberative Wave’ and lessons learned from USAID’s active portfolio on global democratic governance, these institutions can provide advice that will build further standards of quality for more meaningful community engagement at a national and local level. The Centre would offer Assessment, Advice and Advocacy with its work available for free to Assembly builders in all nations, their elected representatives, NGO’s and individuals. Find out more about the ‘What Works Centre for Deliberative Democracy’ HERE.

 3.         Constructing a Global Citizens’ Deliberation on Democracy giving citizens an independent and unmediated  voice to put forward recommendations on deliberative democracy as part of the ongoing Summit process. This would give a microcosm of citizens an opportunity at the request of the Summit to assess specific challenges facing deliberative democracy, learn lessons about a wide range of democracy reforms and innovations, and find common ground on national and global solutions that could have a globally transformative impact. Find out more about Constructing a Global Citizens’ Deliberation on Democracy HERE.


We, as working group members, are proud to be a part of the DDCA Cohort, to contribute to the 3 Working Groups and to support the Summit process and team as well as the  Summit for Democracy event  itself. Part of our project is to help take the Summit concept to its next stage, and bring cutting edge global institutions to the use of deliberative democracy and thereby evolve and strengthen democracy. We ask that the Summit team engages with us, improves our work and where appropriate endorse, encourage and take to implementation the practical steps we have outlined above.

We request that you consider these earnestly offered proposals and in so doing help restore trust by engaging citizens in their democracy,

Respectfully and urgently yours,

Graham Allen, Mahmud Farooque, Gazela Pudar, and Ceri Davies.

Cohort Working Group coordinators of the Deliberative Democracy and Citizens’ Assemblies Cohort.

If you would like to support or discuss the Proposals with the Co-ordinators themselves please feel free to email them below ,

The Global What Works Center for deliberative democracy. Contact – Mahmud Farooque, Associate Director, Science, Policy and Outcomes, Consortium, Arizona State University Washington Centre.  

The Global Marshall Plan for Deliberative Democracy. Contact-Gazela Pudar, Director, Institute for Philosophy and Social Theory at the University of Belgrade

The Global Citizens’ Deliberation on Democracy/Assembly. Contact-Ceri Davies, Director, Centre for Deliberative Research, National Centre for Social Research.

Co-ordination. Contact-Graham Allen, Convenor, Citizens’ Assembly on UK Democracy