State of the Order: Assessing June 2021

Reshaping the order

This month’s topline events

Biden Rallies the G7. On his first overseas trip as president, Joe Biden joined the leaders of the G7 group of democracies in Britain for a summit, resulting in commitments to provide one billion COVID-19 vaccines to developing nations, as well as agreements on a global minimum tax and a major new initiative to finance infrastructure projects in the developing world to counter the influence of China. Biden later traveled to Brussels for his first summit with NATO leaders, and separately, with EU leaders, securing joint statements of concern over China and Russia and pledging to work together to advance a rules-based international order. 

  • Shaping the order. Biden’s participation in this sequence of summit meetings showcased a renewed US commitment to democratic alliances and signaled that America is back as a multilateral leader on the global stage. The summit statements reflect shared concerns over Russia and China and an emerging consensus among allies on the need to prepare for an era of strategic competition between democracies and autocracies, though the US and Europe continue to differ in certain areas on how assertively to deal with Beijing. 
  • Hitting Home. Closer cooperation with allies could help place the United States in a stronger position to act on key challenges at home, including pandemic recovery, and to defend against threats to American security and economic interests.
  • What to do. Biden should continue to push for a common strategy among allies to deal with China and Russia, strengthen and update global trade norms, and seek to create new mechanisms to promote democratic cooperation, including a potential D-10 and a technology alliance to harness advanced technologies and develop common norms and policies consistent with democratic values.  

A New Atlantic Charter. While in London, Biden joined British Prime Minister Boris Johnson in signing a New Atlantic Charter that sets forth a statement of shared values and common aspirations. Like the original Atlantic Charter signed by Britain and the US in 1941, the new document lays out eight fundamental principles for a stable and secure global order, including the need to address new challenges such as emerging technologies, cyber threats, and climate change.  The document was criticized by Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov as “ideologically tainted” and by China’s Global Times as “misreading the trend of time.”

  • Shaping the order. The New Atlantic Charter offers an affirmative vision in stark contrast to a world dominated by autocracies like China and Russia and could serve to galvanize the free world to act together to address shared challenges. But what made the original Atlantic Charter so compelling was the action it inspired, including new rules and norms governing the behavior of states, and new institutions that the United States and its allies and partners used to defend and enforce these rules. To succeed in shaping a revitalized global order, this same spirit will be required again today. 
  • Hitting Home. As with the original document, the Atlantic Charter 2.0 could provide a blueprint for organizing a world that fosters a new era of security and prosperity for America and its citizens.
  • What to do. Biden should encourage other leading democracies that share the charter’s vision to sign on and work together to support it. The administration should follow by taking concrete steps to create new institutions that would advance the charter and rally the world’s democracies to action behind the principles in the charter.

Biden-Putin Meeting.  Biden ended his visit to Europe by meeting with Russian president Vladimir Putin in Geneva. During the nearly three hours of talks, Biden reportedly raised concerns over Russian cyberattacks; human rights violations, including the imprisonment of opposition leader Alexey Navalny; and aggression against Ukraine. The two leaders agreed to launch a strategic stability dialogue to deal with issues such as arms control and cyberattacks, and to send ambassadors back to each other’s capitals.

  • Shaping the order. Biden’s call-out of Russia’s behavior on human rights  and foreign interference suggests that US-Russia relations are likely to continue to be framed as a clash of values and interests, in the context of US support for an international rules-based order. Despite the launch of a new strategic dialogue and efforts by the Biden administration to cast the meeting as “positive” and “constructive,” the Kremlin appears undeterred from its current course of malign activities.
  • Hitting Home. As demonstrated by recent ransomware attacks against US companies, including Colonial Pipeline, cyberattacks originating from Russia continue to pose threats to the US and could disrupt Americans’ daily lives
  • What to do. Washington should continue to press Moscow to take action against cybercriminals based in Russia, release Navalny, and cease its broader efforts to undermine the rules-based order, while working closely with allies on a common strategy to raise costs on Moscow for such behavior.   

Quote of the Month

America is better positioned to advance our national security and our economic prosperity when we bring together like-minded nations to stand with us… Our alliances weren’t built by coercion or maintained by threats.  They’re grounded on democratic ideals and a shared vision of the future … where the rights of all people are protected… where nations are free from coercion or dominance by more powerful states; [and] where the global commons … remain open and accessible for the benefit of all.” 

– President Joe Biden, United Kingdom, June 9, 2021

State of the Order this month: Strengthened

Assessing the five core pillars of the democratic world order    

Democracy (↑)

  • In response to Belarus’ forced landing of a Ryanair flight in May and the government’s ongoing crackdown against pro-democracy protestors, the United States, European Union, United Kingdom and Canada announced coordinated sanctions on dozens of Belarusian individuals and entities, with additional sanctions likely to come.
  • G7 leaders, joined by the leaders of Australia, India, South Africa, and South Korea, signed an Open Societies Statement that reaffirmed shared commitments to democratic values, human rights, and freedom of expression.
  • Hong Kong’s largest pro-democracy newspaper, Apple Daily, was forced to shut down and its editors faced arrest as Beijing expanded its assault on democratic institutions in the autonomous territory.
  • With the actions against Belarus and the priority placed on support for democracy at the G7, NATO, and EU Summits, the democracy pillar was strengthened.

Security (↑)

  • Meeting in Brussels, NATO leaders reaffirmed their commitments to collective defense and advancing a rules-based order, while citing a range of traditional and evolving security challenges, including those posed by Russia and China.
  • Conservative cleric Ebrahim Raisi, a protégé of Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, was elected as Iran’s next president, in a move widely seen as orchestrated by Khamenei to ensure that his hardline vision for Iran, contentious with the United States and the West, is maintained.
  • China and Russia announced the extension of a friendship and cooperation treaty, originally signed in 2001, that Chinese President Xi Jinping said demonstrated the importance of strategic cooperation between Moscow and Beijing in defending their common interests on the global stage.
  • Ransomware attacks, reportedly organized by groups based in Russia, continued to target American companies, including the world’s largest meat supplier, JSB Foods, which paid $11 million to the hackers. 
  • In light of the NATO summit pronouncements, the overall security pillar was strengthened.

Trade (↑)

  • After years of negotiations, G7 nations agreed to a new global minimum tax of 15 percent on multinational corporations, regardless of where their headquarters are located. Over 130 nations, including all members of the G20, have now endorsed the agreement.
  • The United States and the European Union agreed on a temporary resolution of a 17-year dispute over aircraft subsidies to Boeing and Airbus, suspending tariffs for five years and committing to a more open and transparent process for research and development funding.
  • The United States and the EU also agreed to create a new Technology and Trade Council, aimed at devising new standards for emerging technology, promoting democratic values online, and advancing collaboration on cutting-edge research.
  • With these important developments, the global trade pillar was strengthened.

Commons (↑)

  • G7 leaders pledged to provide one billion coronavirus vaccines to the developing world over the next year, with the United States committing to half of this amount.
  • The G7 also agreed to step up action on climate change by committing to cut emissions in half by 2030 and renewing a pledge to raise $100 billion a year to help developing countries move to cleaner energy sources. 
  • China launched a rocket to send the first astronauts to its new space station, a significant step in what could become an intensifying space race between China and the United States.
  • Overall, the global commons pillar was strengthened.

Alliances (↑)

  • As discussed above, President Biden joined G7 leaders for a summit in Britain that reaffirmed US relations with key democratic allies. 
  • Biden also joined NATO leaders for a summit in Brussels that showcased allied solidarity and resulted in a strongly-worded communique in which allies agreed to language calling out Russia and highlighting the “systemic challenges” posed by China.
  • Biden participated in a separate US-EU summit meeting in Brussels demonstrating strong US support for the EU after years of sharp criticism by former president Trump, and which set forth a “Joint Transatlantic Agenda” aimed at building a more democratic world and upholding a rules-based order, potentially bringing together EU and US regulatory power.
  • Overall, the alliances pillar was strengthened.

Strengthened (↑)________Unchanged ()________Weakened ()

What is the democratic world order? Also known as the liberal order, the rules-based order, or simply the free world, the democratic world order encompasses the rules, norms, alliances, and institutions created and supported by leading democracies over the past seven decades to foster security, democracy, prosperity, and a healthy planet.

This month’s top reads

Three must-read commentaries on the democratic order     

  • Joe Biden, in a Washington Post op-ed, contended that his trip to Europe was about rallying democracies to meet the challenges and deter the threats of a new age.
  • Hal Brands, in Foreign Affairs, argues that Biden’s emerging foreign policy doctrine focuses on a grand strategy of fortifying the democratic world against the most serious set of threats it has confronted in generations.
  • Mira Patel, writing for the Indian Express, suggests that the New Atlantic Charter is being seen as a rebuke of China and Russia and could help renew the US-UK “special relationship.”

Action and analysis by the Atlantic Council

Our experts weigh in on this month’s events

  • In an Atlantic Council report, From the G7 to a D-10: Strengthening Democratic Cooperation for Today’s Challenges, Ash Jain and Matthew Kroenig, in collaboration with Tobias Bunde, Sophia Gaston, and Yuichi Hosoya, suggest a new D-10 to foster strategic alignment and coordinated action among like-minded and influential democracies.
  • Fred Kempe, writing for CNBC, contends that Biden’s trip to Europe was aimed at providing a narrative thread and building common cause among the world’s leading democracies against authoritarianism
  • Andrew Marshall, in the New Atlanticist, provides an analysis of the New Atlantic Charter.
  • In an op-ed in The Hill, David Gordon and Ash Jain contend that Biden needs a D-10 to rally the democracies in an era of strategic competition.
  • Lisa Aronsson and Brett Swaney, in the New Atlanticist, highlight three priorities for NATO’s new Strategic Concept in light of increasing competition with Russia and China.
  • Nilofar Sakhi, in the New Atlanticist, suggests that China, Russia, and Iran are seeking to expand their influence in Afghanistan, which they view as a battlefield for strategic competition with the United States.
  • Dan Fried, in the New Atlanticist, analyzes whether Biden’s building of a foreign policy doctrine around democracy is likely to succeed.
  • In a Fast Thinking commentary, Dan Fried and Ash Jain discuss the potential implications of the New Atlantic Charter.


The Democratic Order Initiative is an Atlantic Council initiative aimed at reenergizing American global leadership and strengthening cooperation among the world’s democracies in support of a rules-based democratic order. Sign on to the Council’s Declaration of Principles for Freedom, Prosperity, and Peace by clicking here.

Ash Jain – Senior Fellow
Dan Fried – Distinguished Fellow
Jeffrey Cimmino – Assistant Director
Joel Kesselbrenner – Program Assistant
Paul Cormarie – Georgetown Student Researcher
Audrey Oien – Young Global Professionals Intern

If you would like to be added to our email list for future publications and events, or to learn more about the Democratic Order Initiative, please email

Image: G7 summit leaders examine global infrastructure and COVID-19