Free World Commission of legislators from leading democracies launched at Munich Security Conference

Munich, Germany—February 16, 2020—A high-profile commission of lawmakers from the US Congress and other leading democracies has called for the democratic world to stand together against common threats and to advance a rules-based order.

Meeting for the first time at the Munich Security Conference, the Commission on Advancing a Free World, held a hearing on the challenges facing the democratic world. The hearing was co-chaired by Rep. Bill Keating (D-MA) and Jurgen Hardt, a member of the German parliament. The bipartisan Commission includes influential legislators from the US and democratic allies across Europe and Asia, including Australia, Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, and Japan.

The Commission will lead efforts to synchronize passage of legislative measures in leading democracies on critical concerns, such as Russian election meddling, Chinese 5G networks, Iranian influence, and North Korea sanctions.

“This is a time when we have to collaborate and work together,” said Rep. Keating. “There are vacuums in leadership around the world…and a huge role for members of parliament and legislators…The Commission on Advancing a Free World is a wonderful vehicle to coordinate.”

Michael Levitt, member of the Canadian House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, added that the Commission “reaffirmed the importance of standing strong with like-minded allies.”

Rep. Tom Malinowksi (D-NJ) said “this is potentially a very important initiative… We’re here because we are all very cognizant that the central struggle in the world right now is between democracy and authoritarianism.”

Appearing before the Commission, former US Ambassador and Atlantic Council Distinguished Fellow Daniel Fried expressed the need for democracies to stay united in the face of current challenges. “We hope the Commission going forward can rally the like-minded to speak to their respective governments … in a common cause.”  He expressed hope that representatives from other democracies, such as India, could join over time.

The Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think tank, serves as secretariat for the Commission.

Following remarks by Hong Kong Umbrella Movement Student Leader Nathan Law, Russian opposition leader Vladimir Milov, and Iranian human rights activist Azadeh Pourzand, many members of the Commission expressed support for those fighting for democratic values around the world.

While unable to attend the hearing in Munich, Representatives Eliot Engel (D-NY) and Mike Gallagher (R-WI) are also serving as members of the Commission.

Later this year, the Commission will convene a special hearing in Washington to focus on collective strategies for addressing the challenges posed by China. 

The following officials serve on the Commission:

  • Eliot Engel, Representative, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, United States
  • Mike Gallagher, Representative, Member of the House Armed Services Committee, United States
  • Andrew Hastie, Member of Parliament, Chairman of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence, Australia
  • Bill Keating, Representative, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on Europe, Eurasia, Energy, and the Environment, United States
  • Jurgen Hardt, Member of the Bundestag, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee and Foreign Policy Spokesperson of the CDU/CSU Parliamentary Group, Germany
  • Michael Levitt, Member of Parliament, Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, Canada
  • Tom Malinowski, Representative, Member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, United States
  • Kati PiriMember of ParliamentMember of the Foreign Affairs Committee, European Parliament
  • Lia Quartapelle Procopio, Member of the Chamber of Deputies, Secretary of the House Committee on Foreign and Community Affairs, Italy
  • Norbert Rottgen, Member of the Bundestag, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Germany
  • Christian Schmidt, Member of the Bundestag, Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee, Germany
  • Radek SikorskiMember of ParliamentMember of the Foreign Affairs Committee, European Parliament
  • Sabine Thillaye, Member of the National Assembly, Chairwoman of the Committee on European Affairs, France
  • Hiromi Takase, Member of the House of Councillors, National Diet, Japan
  • Tom Tugendhat, Member of Parliament, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, United Kingdom

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Image: (Photo: Flickr/JacobEnos/CC License)