Secretary General at the High-Level Forum on the Future of Democracy


On November 10, 2022, SG Thomas E. Garrett participated in the High-Level Future of Democracy Forum, hosted in Vilnius by the Lithuanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. SG spoke in a panel discussion on“Authoritarian Weaponization of Peacetime Institutions – How to Resist it?”


High-Level Forum on the Future of Democracy

Authoritarian Weaponization of Peacetime Institutions – How to Resist it?

Intervention by Thomas E. Garrett, Secretary General of the Community of Democracies

November 10, 2022 Vilnius Lithuania


Excellencies, Distinguished Guests and Members of our Eminent Panel

I would like to thank the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania, for bringing us together today.  I think you will agree this Forum on the Future of Democracy has been highly informative and, with the wise addition of activists and human rights defenders, highly inspiring.

Authoritarian weaponization of civil institutions, peacetime institutions, such as the use of food, trade, energy, and migration, as tools of political pressure in 2022 affects each citizen living in a democracy in ways we might not have envisioned just one year ago in our first Forum gathering in Vilnius.

Thank you, members of the panel, for your insights on this matter.  The case studies, your personal accounts, are worrisome.  To the list of those tools of pressure mentioned above, “lawfare” against individual citizens is a harrowing prospect.

In the Community of Democracies, we have examined the issue of arbitrary detentions – hostage taking – of foreign citizens in authoritarian countries.  From the panel’s insights, it is clear democracies must adapt to resist weaponization by authoritarians in many fields.

What can we do now? Professor Sergei Guriev (Russia) advises us to publicly identify those in the West who serve authoritarian objectives for financial gains.  “Name and shame” is today within our grasp as a means of resistance.

Authoritarians are exploiting, manipulating, the world’s peacetime institutions.  Democracies are resisting: I wish the best to, and pledge my support to, the Resisting Authoritarian Pressure initiative announced today by Lithuania, Freedom House, and the Alliance for Democracies.  This initiative gives us all something to coordinate and organize around, as we conclude the Forum.