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Remarks by the AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk at Virtual Global Cooperation
November 9, 2021



Remarks by the AIT Director Sandra Oudkirk at
Virtual Global Cooperation and Training Framework (GCTF) Workshop on
“Defending Democracy through Media Literacy III”

Speaker You, Deputy Foreign Minister Tseng, Representative Izumi, Representative Dennis, Representative Podstavek, distinguished guests, and audience members—it is my pleasure to open today’s virtual Global Cooperation and Training Framework workshop on “Defending Democracy through Media Literacy.”

I would like to extend my special appreciation to the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for organizing today’s event.  As a leading democracy, Taiwan’s example of good democratic governance is a model for us all not just in Asia, but throughout the world.

I have been particularly impressed with Taiwan’s effective management of the COVID-19 pandemic while ensuring the maintenance of privacy rights.  Of course, no democracy can be successful without strong civil society actors, so I am pleased that the Taiwan Foundation for Democracy is continuing the important work of buttressing democratic institutions and norms in Taiwan and around the world.

As the United States and Taiwan both know all too well, the internet age has seen a dramatic rise in the spread and effectiveness of disinformation.  As open, democratic societies, the United States, Taiwan, and many others are particularly vulnerable to the pernicious effects of intentionally misleading and harmful misinformation.

This threat is especially worrisome in the context of democratic elections – the treasured process by which free societies choose who and how they would like to be governed.  The United States, Taiwan, and many others have experienced harmful disinformation in recent elections that seeks to undermine our people’s faith in the democratic process. Without public trust in free and fair elections, the ability of our democracies to thrive is at risk.

That is why forums such as this are important vehicles to share experiences and best practices with like-minded representatives from governments, civil society, and academia around the world.  Sharing lessons learned from past disinformation efforts targeting our electoral processes as well as discussing counter-disinformation strategies from both the legal and civil society standpoints can improve media literacy in our societies and strengthen our ability to defend democracy.

It is an honor to have distinguished speakers and participants from so many countries joining this workshop to share experiences, challenges, and best practices.  I hope that you can take the lessons you learn from our workshop and integrate them into your own work to strengthen democratic society and protect the integrity of democratic elections.

On behalf of the United States, thank you all for the work you do.  I am delighted that you are able to take the time to participate in this important workshop.