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Past Event

Defending democracy against its adversaries

The seventh annual Justice Stephen Breyer Lecture on International Law

Past Event

Liberal democracy — representation, the rule of law, and human rights — is the foundation of the trans-Atlantic alliance and a rules-based international order. The Biden administration has placed democracy at the heart of its policy agenda; in the words of its March 2021 Interim National Security Strategic Guidance, “Democracy is essential to meeting all the challenges of our changing world.” Yet democracy is under threat worldwide from populists and rising authoritarian powers.

Still, civil societies continue to fight for their rights. In Belarus, a pro-democracy movement led by teacher-turned-presidential-candidate Sviatlana Tsikhanouskaya is bravely protesting the fraudulent August 2020 election, despite violent repression by the government of Alexander Lukashenko.

On March 26, as part of the seventh annual Justice Stephen Breyer Lecture on International Law, Foreign Policy at Brookings hosted Tsikhanouskaya for a keynote address that examined democracy and human rights in Belarus. Afterwards, senior fellow and Fritz Stern chair Constanze Stelzenmüller joined Tsikhanouskaya for a conversation on how the United States and Europe should support democracy in Belarus and the surrounding region. A panel discussion on protecting democracy from both sides of the Atlantic followed their conversation.

Viewers submitted questions by emailing or on Twitter using #Democracy.


Welcome remarks

From this Session

Keynote remarks and conversation

From this Session

Panel discussion


Bob Deen

Senior Research Fellow, Coordinator of the Russia and Eastern Europe Centre - Clingendael Institute


Kara McDonald

Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor - U.S. Department of State


Gerard Steeghs

Director, Multilateral Organisations and Human Rights - Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Kingdom of the Netherlands

From this Session

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