Isobel Coleman hosts John Campbell, former U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, for a discussion about the political and economic transitions of South Africa and Nigeria as part of a Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy Initiative series on Realizing Democracy: Lessons from Transitioning Countries.
The Venezuelan revolutionary Simon Bolívar has a remarkably elastic legacy. Ever since his death in 1830, Latin American politicians across the political spectrum have claimed to be his rightful heir. What Bolívar left behind, it turns out, was less a coherent set of ideas than an abstract vision of Latin American unity -- a vision that remains impossible today.
These reports, mandated by Congress in the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and the Trade Act of 1974, describe the performance of other governments in practicing their international commitments on civil, political, individual, and worker rights, as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UN and the Chinese government produce similar reports.
Calls for more popular participation are not essential to populism; rather, they are a symptom of perceived exclusion (which might well be a reality, especially in Latin America). But cries for political inclusion are different from demands for direct democracy. Where direct democracy is very much a part of normal politics – in Switzerland, for example – populist parties have been doing better, not worse, than elsewhere.
Isobel Coleman, CFR's senior fellow and director of the Civil Society, Markets, and Democracy initiative, discusses transitions to democracy and market economies, as part of CFR's Academic Conference Call series.
Joshua Kurlantzick discusses democracy's decline and his new book, Democracy in Retreat: The Revolt of the Middle Class and the Worldwide Decline of Representative Government in an interview with the Los Angeles Times.
President Obama met with President Sall from Senegal, President Banda from Malawi, President Koroma from Sierra Leone, and Prime Minister Neves from Cape Verde on March 28, 2013. The four presidents discussed the progress their countries have made in democracy and economic development.
Asked by Jack Glore, from William Paterson University
Civil institutions are critical pillars of democratic accountability—without them, democracy remains elusive, regardless of the laws written in constitutions. This is particularly true in countries dependent on oil and other natural resource wealth, and those struggling to realize democratic transitions.
For more on what the United States and others can do to foster open, prosperous, and stable societies, visit CSM&D.
CFR Experts Guide
The Council on Foreign Relations' David Rockefeller Studies Program—CFR's "think tank"—is home to more than seventy full-time, adjunct, and visiting scholars and practitioners (called "fellows"). Their expertise covers the world's major regions as well as the critical issues shaping today's global agenda. Download the printable CFR Experts Guide.