Defining Global Challenges to Democracy

Ahead of the Summit for Democracy, the International Forum for Democratic Studies has released a series of four issue briefs that highlight several emerging global challenges to democracy – on the integrity of the information space, transnational kleptocracy, emerging technology, and global authoritarian influence.

Given the extent to which autocratic regimes have proven adept at exploiting transnational flows of money, information, and technological know-how to their advantage, societies around the world must respond by adapting and cultivating new forms of collaboration, knowledge-sharing, and innovation.

READ THE OVERVIEW BRIEF on “defining global challenges to democracy” >





Over the past decade and a half, authoritarian powers have intensified their repression at home and sought to project greater influence globally. Two major powers in particular, China and Russia, have led the way in launching cross-border and increasingly networked influence operations that aim to prevent democracy where it does not yet exist and subvert it where it does.

Key principles for a democratic response include:

  • Strengthening resilience by leveraging civil society.
  • Addressing knowledge and capacity gaps.
  • Promoting democratic collaboration and learning.
  • Reaffirming support for democratic principles.
Read more here, and we invite you to explore the International Forum’s Countering Authoritarian Influence portfolio.



By muddying the information space, dividing citizens across political lines, and obscuring their own harmful actions, authoritarian powers seek to stifle free expression, create confusion, and disrupt democratic processes. Such efforts corrode public discourse – and ultimately democracy – by marginalizing civil society voices, weakening debate, and amplifying divisive narratives.

Key principles for a democratic response include:

  • Fostering transnational cooperation to reach scale.
  • Deepening understanding of rapidly-evolving trends.
  • Leveraging new technologies.
Read more here, and we invite you to explore the International Forum’s Information Space Integrity portfolio.



Transnational kleptocracy refers to “government by thieves,” a system where the state is captured by political elites. They, in turn, use the global financial system to launder and protect their ill-gotten gains, often in rule-of-law based countries, where they spend these resources to defend their regimes and undermine democratic societies.

Key principles for a democratic response include:

  • Building transnational networks to expose kleptocracy.
  • Defending key anti-kleptocracy organizations and individual activists.
  • Addressing vulnerabilities in open societies.
  • Sustaining momentum in the battle against transnational kleptocracy.
Read more here, and we invite you to explore the International Forum’s Combating Transnational Kleptocracy portfolio.



Digital authoritarianism is challenging democracy. New forms of digital technology are becoming widely available, and are used to deepen state surveillance, tighten control over the internet, and shift global norms in ways that legitimize digital repression.

Key principles for a democratic response include:

  • Cultivating partnerships and collaboration.
  • Developing new norms.
  • Addressing crucial knowledge and capacity gaps.
Read more here, and we invite you to explore the International Forum’s Emerging Technologies and Democracy portfolio.


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