For the past several years, NATO has been amid a period of strategic reevaluation—how to future–proof the alliance from a security perspective but also, increasingly, taking on a political role. The need to support alliance members in countering threats to our democratic institutions isn’t new. The level of threat to democracy today, however, is.  As the threats to democracy intensify, NATO has turned its attention toward the impacts of internal threats to democracy and what can be done to foster greater democratic resilience.  

This intensification of existing threats to democracy, and the apparently proliferation of new threats as the global polycrisis worsens, require we all reconsider how we think about governance, threat, and democratic resilience. This idea informed the production of Diplomatic Courier’s Future of Democracy Forum, co–hosted by Community of Democracies. It is also the key problematic we thought about while putting together the 2024 edition of our annual NATO Summit special edition.

The polycrisis comprises a multitude of threats, including but not limited to: proliferating geopolitical competition and conflict, climate change impacts, societal fragmentation and extremist politics, economic uncertainty, disruption from AI, mental health crises, continued downstream disruptions remaining from Covid, and resurgent home–grown and international terrorism.

We think that action in three different spaces can have an outsize impact on most aspects of the polycrisis: institutional resilience, exponential technologies, and political economics. Deciding how to grapple with these challenges is a larger task than categorizing them, however. This compilation of analyses published by Diplomatic Courier explores different perspectives from experts and leaders around the world about our opportunities and challenges.

It doesn’t seem controversial to say it feels as though today we are at a uniquely pivotal point in history. More than any time since the Cold War, democracy appears to be under attack, though those who oppose democracy today are far less recognizable than they were in the 20th century. Their tactics are more varied and more difficult to parse. Worse, some of the damage to our democratic institutions is internal as well.

It's a complicated threat environment. We have to get our solutions right, fast, to help ensure the Future of Democracy arrives well.

We hope you find this special series of analyses useful to that end.

Article by

Shane Szarkowski

Dr. Shane C. Szarkowski is Editor–in–Chief of Diplomatic Courier and the Executive Director of World in 2050.