Does Democracy Matter?

Date : Mon., October 20, 2014 8:30 am to 2:30 pm Category : FPRI in D.C.

Negative experiences from state-building projects in Iraq and Afghanistan, the mixed record of the post-communist revolutions and the aftermath of Arab Spring have led many to question the efficacy of democracy promotion. Some argue that Western democracy support is ineffective at its best and counterproductive at its worst. Domestic support for international involvement, including democracy assistance is waning, and there is increasing focus on “pragmatic” short-term interests.

Despite significant successes in some parts of the post-communist region, critics point to continued democratic deficiencies in Eastern Europe and renewed authoritarianism in most of the former Soviet republics. Some argue that democracy cannot be readily transplanted into cultures and societies that are dissimilar to those of established Western democracies. Are such conclusions valid, or is there a case for continuing efforts to encourage transitions to democracy?  The unresolved Ukraine crisis has heightened the importance of this question.

Taking stock of democracy promotion over the past 30 years, particularly in the post-communist region, what are its strengths and weaknesses – both in the theories that underlie it and in its programmatic application? Are some lessons transferable across regions and, if so, which ones? Has Western assistance shown an adequate balance between advancing the procedures of democracy and nurturing more democratic political cultures? If U.S. and European democracy promotion should be continued, how can it be better targeted and reformed to more effectively advance democratization in post-authoritarian societies? If such assistance programs deserve to be terminated, should there be alternative policies to support human rights and other aspects of pluralism?

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Topics and Speakers

Welcoming Remarks

10/20/2014 - 09:00am to 09:15am
Adrian A. Basora

Director - Eurasia Program

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Does Democracy Matter

Revisiting the case for democracy assistance

10/20/2014 - 09:15am to 10:45am
Amb. Kenneth Yalowitz


Kennan Institute

Carl Gershman

National Endowment for Democracy

Nikolas K. Gvosdev

Naval War College

Barak Hoffman

World Bank

Thomas O. Melia

State Dept

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Does Democracy Matter

How effective are the core components of US democracy promotion? Are they adequate for today's circumstances?

10/20/2014 - 11:00am to 12:30pm
Christian Caryl


Foreign Policy and Legatum Institute

Sarah Bush

Senior Fellow - Eurasia Program

Melinda Haring

Associate Scholar - Eurasia Program

Tsveta Petrova

Harriman Institute, Columbia University

Michal Koran

Prague Institute for International Relations

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Does Democracy Matter

Luncheon and Keynote Speaker

10/20/2014 - 12:45pm to 01:45pm
Alan Luxenberg


President -

Larry Diamond

Stanford University

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Does Democracy Matter

Closing Remarks

10/20/2014 - 01:45pm to 02:30pm

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Does Democracy Matter



Wilson Center

1300 Pennsylvania Ave. NW DC Washington 20004

Registration links

Register Deadline

Mon., October 20, 2014

Related Program(s)

Eurasia Program

For additional information or to register for this event, please contact Maia Otarashvili at (215) 732-3774 x 119 or