The first part of the session examines the role of international organizations in democracy promotion. It begins by asking whether there is a growing global consensus on the value of democratic governance – perhaps even an emerging “right to democracy.” We then consider how international organizations are both contributing to and acting on that consensus through their normative and operational activities. Among the operational activities, we look at electoral assistance, the good governance agenda of development agencies, peacekeeping and peacebuilding. In addition to these non-coercive approaches, we consider cases of military action to uphold democracy – most recently in Cote d’Ivoire. The central objective of the session is to explore the global normative and political context in which democratic action by non-state actors occurs.
The second talk critically examines some recent cases where there have been charges of foreign interference in popular nonviolent uprisings by foreign governments, NGOs, and other outside actors; explores how outside support can actually harm a movement’s chances of success; and, under what circumstances outside actors can make positive contributions to nonviolent struggles for freedom and justice. In general, autocratic governments, regardless of ideological orientation or geo-political alliances, have traditionally blamed real or perceived hostile powers for indigenous nonviolent challenges to their regime. However, unlike military coups and armed rebellions, the degree of influence a foreign power can actually have on a popular civil insurrection is rather minimal.
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