32nd Forum on Global Issues

© Auswärtiges Amt

On Behalf of the People?
Success factors and pitfalls of external democracy promotion

Tuesday, 7th May 2013
Conference Centre in the Federal Foreign Office

Cooperation partners:
Federal Foreign Office
Institut für Entwicklung und Frieden

In the last twenty years, as stated by the much cited Freedom House-Statistic, the number of democratically constituted states has increased worldwide. However, this development has been everything but a linear process. Rather, at the turn of the millennium after the successful democratization processes of the 1990s in Central and Eastern Europe this trend grinded to a halt. It was already clear at that time: External democracy promotion even under the most favorable structural preconditions is only then effective if the relevant social groups show their will to democratization and the political elites demonstrate the ability to shape the transition. 

Setting in at the end of 2010 in North Africa and the Middle East, the “Arab Spring” came along with high expectations towards a new “wave of democratization”. Talk was of “Facebook”-revolutions – and also the important part of female activists was acknowledged. By now, disillusionment and worries prevail – also the realization that democratization can be a path full of bends that can be accompanied by violence and setbacks. There are no blueprints at hand, instead external actors must adopt their aims, strategies and instruments to the changing constellations in an informed way, but at the same time follow a normative precisely distinguishable line.

By means of the “Forum Globale Fragen” we therefore inquire after current challenges of external democracy promotion, especially after the role of the constitutional process in young democracies, as well as after opportunities and risks of elections in transition countries and finally try to bring to light the characteristics of the recent upheavals in the Arab world.


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