International high-level dialogue forum

Shaping a globalised world

Still a Bumpy Road.
The Multiple Challenges of External Democracy Promotion

Stephen Brown
April 2013; 4 pages


In the early 1990s, after the collapse of the communist bloc and the end of the Cold War, democracy seemed triumphant. Numerous Western foreign policymakers, commentators and academics expressed unbridled optimism. In the most extreme case, Francis Fukuyama spoke of the coming “end of history”, at which point all governments would be and forever remain liberal democracies.

During this period, many Western countries rapidly expanded their work in the area of democracy promotion and supported some multilateral organizations’ efforts in this area. They sought to help new democracies, especially those in Eastern and Central Europe and in Sub-Saharan Africa, to institutionalize and consolidate their systems, as well as encourage remaining authoritarian regimes to liberalize politically and make a transition to democracy. The results, however, proved disappointing.

NewsletterSubscribe to our newsletter