Democratizing the Neighbourhood


  • Identify the underlying political, economic (including developmental) and societal factors behind the recent uprisings in the Arab world and assess them in the light of previous cases of democratization in Latin America, Africa, and Asia to understand the causes and consequences of political change in the Arab world. The goal would be to develop a comparative non-Western or Southern perspective that might be especially relevant to the developing world;
  • Understand the regional context and implications of political transitions in the Middle East, Africa, Asia and Latin America. How can neighbourhood actors - States, civil societies and regional organizations –to best assist in the process of political change without causing strife and inter-state tensions? Is intervention the answer? What are the advantages of building democratic neighbourhoods as opposed to piecemeal nation-building? How can regional actors and the international community best balance the imperatives of the “obligation to protect” (in instances where governments turn against their citizens) with concerns for socio-economic stability?
  • Establish what sorts of capacity-building efforts (writing constitutions, organizing elections, providing economic and technical assistance, etc.) might be necessary to make political change peaceful and sustainable. What are the specific requirements that must be met and what sorts of institutions and policies need to be put in place or strengthened? How to engage the new regimes to prevent backsliding and ensure peaceful consolidation of democratic rule?
  • Recommend specific policy measures that can be adopted by the international community to assist democratic transitions. How can regional organizations in the developing world improve their capacity to engage and assist in democratic transitions? Some of the most common sources of aid to new democracies are the Western donors, including regional bodies such as the EU. But how can their effort for the promotion of democracy support internal reformers without imposing policy conditions loathed by policymakers in the developing world? How can we derive insights and approaches from other parts of the developing world that may have greater relevance for the Arab world (For example Indonesia’s Bali Democracy Forum and the OAS’ Inter-American Democratic Charter)?


  1. Transnational Challenges and Emerging Nations Dialogue, American University, Washington, D.C. (overall coordinator).
  2. Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Training Centre (KAIPTC), Accra, Ghana.
  3. Department of Political Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa.
  4. The Orient Centre for Studies and Cultural Dialogue (OCSCD), Amman, Jordan.
  5. Centre for Strategic and International Studies, Jakarta, Indonesia.
  6. Departamento de Ciencia Politica, Universidad de los Andes, Bogota, Colombia.

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