Celebrating 40 Years @NDI


This year marks the 40th Anniversary of NDI's founding. 

NDI promoted democratic reform in the Philippines and Chile in the 1980s; in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall; and across Africa, Asia and Latin America in the 1990s following the end of the Cold War. Throughout the 2000s, we have promoted the political leadership of women, youth and marginalized communities, information integrity, open government and environmental resilience. 

NDI has worked in 156 countries and territories during our history and today, we have programming in over seventy countries. We are privileged to work with exceptional individuals whose tireless efforts on behalf of human dignity in their countries – and beyond – seek to make the world more just, secure and prosperous.

Our 40th Anniversary is a time to reflect on lessons from the past that will inform our future. It is a time to celebrate the work of our partners and, most importantly, to honor our amazing staff. 

Help us continue to ensure that democracy thrives in every corner of the world. Stay informed (newsletter sign up) and support NDI's work on behalf of democracy defenders and freedom-loving people all over the globe.



40th Anniversary Timeline

NDI Foundation Stories

NDI: Engaging Political Parties in Taiwan Since 1986

Taiwan’s evolution over the past four decades to become one of the world’s foremost democratic success stories should be celebrated by all who cherish the preservation of human dignity and potential in Asia. Though elections were regularly held in Taiwan beginning in 1950, the 1948 “Temporary Provisions” to the constitution and the institution of martial law suppressed basic liberties, including the formation of opposition political parties to contest in elections, until martial law was lifted in 1987. Continue Reading

NDI: Buttressing Ukraine’s Sovereignty Since Independence

In December 1991, 92% of Ukrainians voted for independence from the former Soviet Union, with a voter turnout of 84%. While Moscow saw Ukraine and other former Soviet States as remaining under its sphere of influence, from the outset Ukraine’s people embraced democracy and its government generally oriented itself toward the West rather than Moscow. Continue Reading

NDI: Northern Ireland – Supporting Politics of Peace

In early 1985, John Hume, the future co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize and the first person to receive NDI’s Democracy Award, visited Washington, D.C., to build bipartisan support for the politics of peace in Northern Ireland. Known as a civil rights leader in the 1960s from the Bogside in Derry, he had become the leader of Northern Ireland’s Social Democratic Labor Party (SDLP) and was by then an elected member of both the British and European parliaments. Continue Reading

NDI – Supporting Multiracial Democracy in Namibia and South Africa 1988-1994

NDI’s support for building multiracial democracy and ending the white supremacist system of apartheid started in Namibia, where South Africa, in defiance of United Nations resolutions and International Court of Justice rulings, illegally imposed its colonial apartheid administration. Continue Reading

NDI: Philippines – Embracing International and Citizen Election Observation in Defense of the People’s Vote

From 1965 to 1986, Ferdinand Marcos successfully perpetuated his kleptocratic dictatorship, including through the imposition of martial law (1972-1981) and election fraud. As his autocratic rule stretched from years into decades, political unrest and public outrage intensified with the country’s economic collapse in the 1980s, the systematic suppression of political rights, and the assassination of opposition leader Benigno Aquino, Jr. in 1983. Continue Reading

Women’s Political Leadership: A Founding Focus

Nairobi Forum ‘85 and the 1987 International Caucus of Women Political Leaders: From its earliest days, NDI has contributed to the global dialogue on women's political participation and leadership. The Institute’s engagement in Forum '85 - which presaged the non-governmental track in the UN's conferences on the status of women - helped define NDI’s broad approach to women’s political empowerment. More than 13,000 women from NGOs around the globe gathered at the July 1985 forum in Nairobi, which immediately preceded the UN's Third World Conference on the Status of Women. Forum ‘85 set the tone for developments leading to the 1995 Beijing Conference, the UN’s Fourth Conference on “Women: Action for Equality, Development and Peace”. Continue Reading

NDI: Standing with Democracy over Military Dictatorship - Chile’s 1988 Presidential Plebiscite

Chile’s September 11 happened in 1973, when on that date, a bloody military coup smashed one of Latin America’s strongest democracies with roots stretching back 140 years. The military assaulted the presidential palace, leading to the death of validly elected President Salvador Allende, while it rounded up thousands across the country. Continue Reading

NDI: Bolstering Genuine Elections to Secure Democracy – Through Citizen and International Election Observation

In a democracy, the government is “of, by and for the people” – and genuine elections are about honoring the principle that the authority to govern flows from the people through universal and equal suffrage. Viewed holistically, elections are thus about people’s empowerment. They are a means of holding accountable those in government and endorsing policies of those who seek to be elected. Put succinctly, elections belong to the people, because they are an expression of popular sovereignty. Continue Reading

NDI: Championing Youth Leadership to Advance Democracy – A Foundational Principle

From its earliest days in the 1980s NDI recognized that throughout the world young people were driving forces in democracy movements. From the Philippines’ People Power Revolution to Czechoslovakia's Velvet Revolution, from South Africa’s struggle to end apartheid to student protests against Panama's dictator nullifying elections, young people played key roles in autocracy yielding to democracy. NDI also recognized that young people were not politically monolithic nor necessarily politically active and that significant barriers excluded them, even within democratic structures. Consequently, young people in every country often remained disconnected from traditional political institutions and processes and sought other means of political expression. Continue Reading

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