On June 8, 1982, in a turning point of the Cold War, President Ronald Reagan addressed the British Parliament at Westminster Palace in a historic speech that called for a worldwide initiative to advance democracy abroad—paving the way for the establishment of the National Endowment for Democracy (NED).
“40 years ago on this date speaking before the British parliament in the palace in Westminster, President Reagan laid out a vision and a plan to foster democracy around the world,” said NED President and CEO Damon Wilson. “His words inspired American activists to work with the U.S. Congress to pass the NED Act, creating the National Endowment for Democracy. Today, the Endowment is America’s foundation for freedom and democracy.”
Since its founding in 1983, NED has advanced President Reagan’s vision by providing material, technical, and moral support to civil society organizations and activists working to establish and strengthen democracy in their own countries. As an independent, bipartisan, nonprofit grantmaking institution, NED unites Democrats, Republicans, the business community, and the labor movement to pursue this important mission.
“We must be staunch in our conviction that freedom is not the sole prerogative of a lucky few, but the inalienable and universal right of all human beings,” President Reagan said. “The objective I propose is quite simple to state: to foster the infrastructure of democracy–the system of a free press, unions, political parties, universities–which allows a people to choose their own way, to develop their own culture, to reconcile their own differences through peaceful means.” [Read the full Westminster Address here.]
Watch this video celebrating the legacy of President Reagan’s Westminster Address: