Commentary from NDI Board members and staff on democracy promotion generally and on specific NDI programs.
Nigeria: As Democracy and Stability Hang in the Balance, What Is the Role of the International Community?
Amb. Johnnie Carson, a member of the NDI board, wrote an op-ed for African Arguments stressing that the delay of Nigeria’s elections was a mistake that brings into question incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan’s commitment to democracy. Postponing the election, according to Carson, has damaged “Nigeria’s image and set back the country’s economic and political progress.” Carson calls violent instability in the north an “excuse” and points out that the military will not be able to accomplish “in six weeks what it has failed to do in six years.”
February 20, 2015 | Read»
In this article for MacLean's, Grant Kippen, a member NDI's international observer mission to Afghanistan's Parliamentary elections in September 2010, asserts that the recent ruling of the Special Elections Court that called for nearly 1/4 of the Parliament to be removed from office only serves to undermine the legitimate Constitutional authority of the Independent Election Commission and the Electoral Complaints Commission. Kippen urges restraint in this crisis so that personal feelings over past events do not supersede the more important goal of rebuilding Afghanistan.
June 28, 2011 | Read»
In an event at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, NDI's deputy regional director for Central and West Africa Barrie Freeman discussed the importance of the upcoming elections to the DRC's democratization process in light of political developments elsewhere on the continent. Freeman spoke about the many challenges facing the electoral process, including the slow pace of voter registration, an incomplete electoral law, incidences of violence, the underfunded electoral commission, and possible manipulation of the election by the incumbent president. To address these problems, he said, civil society must be fully engaged to monitor the elections and the international community must provide technical and financial support.
May 16, 2011 | Read»
Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle appeared on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” show where he addressed the current political situation in Egypt and the rest of the Middle East.
Daschle, NDI’s vice chair, talked about the importance of the work NDI and the International Republican Institute (IRI) are doing to support the foundations of democracy in the region. “[The United States is] not involved as a country, but we support NDI and IRI in a way that I think could really pay big dividends,” he said.
Feb. 3, 2011 | Watch»
NDI Regional Director for the Middle East and North Africa appeared on the PBS NewsHour to discuss the situation in Egypt.
"After President Mubarak promised a transition, the first step appeared to be to release the thugs on the protesters, and then the army, in their first real test, stood by and allowed this violence to occur...Transition to something new doesn't start with unleashing violence."
Feb. 2, 2011 | Watch»
Interviewed about the Jasmine Revolution taking place in Tunisia, Leslie Campbell, director of Middle East and North Africa programs for NDI, explains that now other regimes in the region recognize that threats to their power may always be bubbling under the surface. "Events in Tunisia have shown that it doesn't take years of building up civil opposition for a regime to crumble," he says.
Jan. 24, 2011 | Read»
Writing in Foreign Policy, Grant Kippen and Scott Worden, both members of the NDI international observation mission to Afghanistan's 2010 elections, urge the Afghan government to follow the country's election law and not undermine it by using a five-member panel appointed by President Hamid Karzai to nullify the election results.
"The international community and the Afghan government need to focus on upholding checks and balances in the existing Afghan legal framework rather than try to create a new one to suit a particular political need. To travel down the path the government of Afghanistan is currently taking will only create future electoral chaos and confusion, further undermining the rule of law and democratic development."
Jan. 21, 2011 | Read»
In a speech to the Africa Society of the National Summit on Africa, Deputy Regional Director for Central and West Africa Barrie Freeman looks ahead to the elections in Liberia. "One of the useful purposes of an election is that it provides citizens with an opportunity to take stock of their country's democratic practices and institutions, and reinforces the connection of elected leaders to voters. Liberians are committed to taking the country forward on its democratic path but know that this path is strewn with obstacles."
Jan. 20, 2011 | Read»
Appearing on the PBS NewsHour, Chris Fomunyoh, NDI’s senior associate and regional director for Central and West Africa, emphasized the importance of a quick resolution to the stalemate in Cote d'Ivoire, or the Ivory Coast. “We must remember that over five million Ivorians participated in this electoral process,” Fomunyoh said. “And they had hoped, for the most part, that these elections would be the culmination of all of the peace agreements that have been negotiated over the years that have postponed the elections, which ordinarily would have been conducted in 2005.
“And so here we are, a month after the elections, all of this fighting and people still waiting to get an outcome that can give them a sense that Ivory Coast is in the process of healing and national reconciliation.”
Dec. 29, 2010 | Watch »
Writing in the International Journal, Leslie Campbell, NDI’s senior associate and regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, examines four case studies of ways that citizens in the Middle East have gotten more involved in strengthening local democracies. From party-building in Yemen and the Palestinian territories to expanding women's participation in Morocco and monitoring elections in Egypt, Campbell demonstrates that "the citizens of the Arab world prefer to be able to choose their leaders, believe that democracy is the best way to order their societies, and demonstrate a desire to participate in the governance of their communities and nations."
Winter 2010 | Read»
On the PBS Newshour, Scott Worden, former head of the Electoral Complaints Commission in Afghanistan and a member of NDI's election observation mission for the 2010 polls, talks with Gwen Ifill about voter turnout, fraud, the security situation, and what the parliament's role is going forward.
"There was better planning for security, and, hopefully, the local races, with local political players being elected, would have a positive impact on reducing the violence. Unfortunately, from the reports that have come in so far, it seems like there was about the same level of violence this year, if not a little bit more."
Sept. 20, 2010 | Watch »
NDI Vice Chairman, Thomas A. Daschle, writes about his optimism for the future of democratic institutions in Kyrgyzstan in this Washington Post op-ed. While acknowledging the challenges the country faces, Daschle rejects the idea that Kyrgyzstan is a "new headache" for U.S. policy and urges the U.S. to support and strengthen democratic institutions in the country.
"I was struck during my visit that politicians and citizens of all stripes voiced admiration for the rule of law, representative parliaments, civil society and political pluralism. How meaningful it would be if we could look back in a decade or two and see that those goals had been realized and that we were on the right side of history."
Sept. 18, 2010 | Read »
Speaking at a panel at the Community of Democracies meeting in Krakow, Poland, in July, NDI Chief Technology Officer Chris Spence explores the role of technology in democratic development and the challenges and opportunities it poses in closed societies. Spence also addresses the importance of using technologies in new and emerging democracies using examples from Afghanistan and Uganda. He notes that while technology can provide useful tools, to be most effective they must be used to support well-organized "off-line" activities by civil society groups.
July 2010 | Read »
Women's meaningful participation in politics affects both the range of policy issues considered and the types of solutions that are proposed. In places such as Timor-Leste, Croatia, and South Africa, an increase in the number of female lawmakers has resulted in more legislation related to domestic violence, inheritance and security. NDI President Kenneth Wollack testified about these gains at a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee hearing on "Women as Agents of Change: Advancing the Role of Women in Politics and Civil Society."
June 9, 2010 | Read »
In this story from TV2 Africa, Pat Merloe, NDI's senior associate for elections programs, talks about using new technologies for better monitoring and transparency in elections around the world, but especially in upcoming elections in Uganda, Burundi and Kenya. Eric Gunderson, president of Development Seed, a technology partner of NDI's, talks about the potential for mapping election data to increase transparency around the election process.
May 24, 2010 | Watch »
"My optimistic message is that the region is stabilizing in ways we’ve not seen before." So begins Rob Benjamin, NDI regional director for Central and Eastern Europe, in a speech to the Center for Strategic and International Studies about the political situation in the Balkans. He explains his reasons for optimism, including increasing cooperation in the region, a desire to integrate with the EU and public opinion in the region which sees jobs and the economy as more important than borders and ethnic conflict.
He also touches on remaining challenges in the region, which include lingering ethnic conflicts, growing Euro-skepticism and political stability within each country, and how democratic strengthening can begin to alleviate some of these issues.
May 10, 2010 | Read »
Kristina Wilfore, NDI's director in Ukraine, hits the road to see how democratic institutions work outside of the capital city. Meeting with mayors from around the country, Wilfore sees local governments on the path to a stronger and more responsive democracy.
"In a city hall made of glass that communicates transparency, Mayor Groisman has set up an office to hear from citizens and respond to their concerns. The result has been more accessible and clean parks, improved road conditions and better access to health care, and an assortment of other changes." April 4, 2010 | Read »
NDI Board Member J. Brian Atwood looks at the U.S. response to the earthquake in Haiti, what was done well and what lessons U.S. disaster response efforts can learn in the future. Atwood argues that putting USAID in charge of the relief was the correct response since it has special expertise in international aid.
"In the early days of the crisis, critical voices asked why USAID was put in charge of the response. Why not the military? Or the Federal Emergency Management Agency? The answer should be clear to anyone who studies this crisis carefully. An objective analysis will lead to the conclusion that future "all-government responses" should be limited to those organizations trained and certified to do this work internationally."
In this interview with Living Well magazine, NDI's resident country director in Jordan, Roula Attar, describes NDI programs in the country and explains why empowering women is so important to future of the country. "Leaving women out of politics doesn't simply disempower women; it actually stalls development and is detrimental to an entire nation's well-being."
April 2010 | Read »
Les Campbell, NDI's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, writes about the recent parliamentary elections in Iraq for Foreign Policy. Campbell emphasizes that, despite some shortcomings in the system, the election results do reflect the will of the people. Nonpartisan observers conducted a parallel vote tabulation, which closely mirrors the official election results. "Every available objective measure tells the same story: The will of the people was expressed in the election results. These results can and should form the basis for the country's governance."
March 30, 2010 | Read »
Pat Merloe, NDI’s senior associate and director of electoral programs, presented on international support for elections in a conference of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. Among the points Merloe made was that: “Citizens’ right to participate in governance and public affairs combines with the right to seek, receive and impart information in the electoral context as the basis for citizens to see into all aspects of the election process to determine whether elections are genuine.”
March 1, 2010 | Read »
NDI and MobileActive are hosting "New Tools for Better Elections", a conference on Feb. 26th on new technologies for fair, representative and equitable elections. In preparation for the event, MobileActive sat down with Ian Schuler, senior manager of information and communications technology programs at NDI. Schuler breaks down not only the differences between election observation, citizen reporting, and crowd-sourcing, but also explains why these distinctions matter and how mobile technology is changing the way elections are held.
February 8, 2010 | Read »
Leslie Campbell, NDI’s senior associate and regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, testified at a hearing in front of the House Foreign Affairs Committee on “Yemen on the Brink: Implications for U.S. Policy,” in which he said, “Governance is part of Yemen’s problem – and part of the solution.”
February 3, 2010 | Read »
Although its notoriety may be newfound, Yemen's fragility is not. Nor is the presence there of threats to U.S. and international security. For these reasons, Yemen has proven a constructive case study for the Bipartisan Policy Center's Stabilizing Fragile States project, which considers how to revise and restructure U.S. policy towards weak states. NDI's director for Middle East and North Africa, Les Campbell, participated in this event.
February 3, 2010 | Watch »
Yemen’s presence in the headlines has skyrocketed recently, but Leslie Campbell, NDI’s senior associate and regional director for the Middle East and North Africa, writes in a recent op-ed that Yemen’s status as an unstable terrorist haven “is not a new phenomenon nor as difficult to address as it might seem.”
January 11, 2010 | Read »
At the University of Denver, senior associate for Africa Chris Fomunyoh addressed students on the issues of freedom, democracy and development in African countries. He identified the major challenges to democracy in Africa as threefold: poverty, the "oil curse," and poor management of resources both natural and human. Despite these challenges, he sees the demand for democracy growing in Africa.
December 10, 2009 | Read »
NDI’s Asia Director, Peter Manikas, calls for a commission of inquiry to review the conduct of the recent presidential election in Afghanistan. Such a review is necessary as a credible first step in the new government’s anti-corruption campaign.
December 7, 2009 | Read »
NDI Chairman Madeleine Albright looks back at the last twenty years of the progression of democracy and freedom since the Berlin Wall fell, and surveys the current state of freedom and democracy around the world.
November 8, 2009 | Read »
Rob Benjamin, Regional Director of Central and Eastern Europe at NDI, shares his impressions of how Serbia has changed since he began to frequent the country in 1995. Rob talks about the effect of Slobodan Milosevic and the challenges that Serbia faces as it continues to democratize.
November 6, 2009 | Read »
Karin von Hippel of the Center for Strategic and International Studies and a member of NDI's observer delegation for Afghanistan's Aug. 20 elections joins the debate at the New York Times about whether a fair election is possible in Afghanistan. Von Hippel lays out four points that she believes will help toward a peaceful and accurate vote for the runoff.
October 21, 2009 | Read »
Former Senator Gary Hart, a member of NDI's observer delegation for Afghanistan's Aug. 20 elections, adds his opinion to the New York Times' question, "is a fair election in Afghanistan possible?" Hart stresses the need for increasing the number of international observers, to limit the opportunities for fraud.
October 21, 2009 | Read »
In an interview with the Council on Foreign Relations, NDI director of Asia programs, Peter Manikas, discusses the Afghan presidential runoff election and what the international community can do to encourage transparency in the voting.
October 20, 2009 | Read »
NDI Chairman Madeleine Albright speaks to the Christian Science Monitor about Iran, Afghanistan and her new book, Read My Pins.
October 7, 2009 | Read »
Pat Merloe, NDI's director for programs on election processes, spoke to PRI's "The World" about the role of international election observers in Afghanistan, in the wake of a new survey that found that a majority of people in the 17 countries surveyed think that their country would benefit from more international election monitoring.
September 8, 2009 | Listen »
Members of NDI's international election observation mission in Afghanistan presented their preliminary findings at a panel hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The event featured NDI President Kenneth Wollack; Peter Manikas, NDI regional director for Asia; Kristin Haffert, NDI director of women's political participation programs; Karin von Hippel of CSIS; Karl Inderfurth of the George Washington University; and Christine Fair of Georgetown University.
September 3, 2009 | Watch »
Peter Manikas, NDI's regional director for Asia programs, appeared on The BBC's "The World Tonight" to discuss allegations of fraud in the Afghan elections. He speaks about the security situation and its impact on the voting process. He also speaks about the standards by which the final vote should be judged. Jump to the 36-minute mark to hear Manikas' thoughts.
August 18, 2009 | Listen »
Susan Page, NDI’s regional director for Southern and Eastern Africa, appeared as a guest on NPR’s “Tell Me More,” to participate in a discussion on Secretary Clinton’s tour of Africa and its implications for U.S./African relations. Page reflected on the trip as a whole, and emphasized the significance of Clinton’s visit to South Africa, which takes place in light of South Africa’s recent decision not to abide by an African Union resolution to halt cooperation with the International Criminal Court’s indictment of Sudan President Omar Al-Bashir.
August 6, 2009 | Listen »
Susan Page, NDI’s regional director for Southern and Eastern Africa, testified in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee during its hearing: “Toward a Comprehensive Strategy for Sudan.” Page detailed the fragile nature of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, for which she provided counsel from 2005 to 2007 during its implementation.
July 30, 2009 | Read more »
Chris Fomunyoh, NDI’s senior associate for Africa, produced a report in collaboration with The Center for Humanitarian Dialogue on mediating election-related conflict. In the report, Dr. Fomunyoh discusses the electoral process, including its phases, flash-points and means of mediation, as well as impediments to mediation of conflict.
July 28, 2009 | Read more » | In French»
Brookings Doha Center hosted a discussion session on “Democracy Promotion and America’s Key Arab Allies: Limits and Prospects,” where experts, including Roula Attar, resident director of NDI’s office in Jordan detailed the efforts of previous administrations to promote democracy in the Arab world and looked forward to the efforts of President Barack Obama and his future plans.
July 28, 2009 | Read more »
Jim Swigert, Senior Associate and Regional Director, Latin America and Caribbean Programs participated in a panel at the Americas Society about the factors contributing to the crisis in Honduras, the responses of the United States and the Organization of American States, and the road ahead for Honduras and the international community. The debate was spirited, revealing diverging viewpoints on how to understand and resolve the conflict.
July 9, 2009 | Read the summary or listen to the audio podcast»
Pat Merloe, NDI’s director for electoral programs, wrote that Iran’s election system has major gaps that cause it to fall short of even minimum standards, in an article published on ForeignPolicy.com.
June 26, 2009 | Read more »
Laura Jewett, NDI’s regional director for Eurasia, remarked on Kyrgyzstan’s July 23 presidential election before the U.S. Congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
June 18, 2009 | Read more »
Robert Benjamin, NDI’s Central and Eastern Europe regional director, addressed the approaching Albanian parliamentary elections and the country's democratic transition as part of a briefing for the U.S. Congressional Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe.
June 4, 2009 | Read more »
With President Barack Obama set to address a predominately Muslim audience in Egypt, NDI chairman Madeleine K. Albright highlights the significance of the speech and advises the president on the issues to tackle in an op-ed in the New York Times.
June 2, 2009 | Read more »
In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, NDI chairman Madeleine K. Albright underscores the importance of international development to U.S. foreign policy.
May 5, 2009 | Read more »
Susan Page, NDI regional director for Southern and East Africa programs, speaks with Chicago Public Radio about the risks and challenges facing world policy makers in Sudan.
April 7, 2009 | Read more »
NDI President Kenneth Wollack and others speak to The New York Times about the evolving role of democracy support in United States foreign policy under the new administration.
February 21, 2009 | Read more »
In a web chat on America.gov, NDI President Kenneth Wollack and IRI President Lorne Craner talk elaborate on the experiences of the institutes and new directions being taken in democracy assistance.
January 29, 2009 | Read transcript »
As contributing authors of a new book, Robert Nakamura, NDI resident country director in Nigeria, and John Johnson, NDI director for governance programs, explore oversight and budgeting challenges facing legislatures around the world.
December 22, 2008 | Read more »
At a recent briefing on Capitol Hill, Les Campell, NDI regional director for Middle East and North Africa programs, discussed the Institute’s productive working relationship with MEPI, citing numerous programs in Morocco, Kuwait and Egypt that were made possible with MEPI funds. Campbell described the unique advantage to having MEPI – a body that deals with political development and democracy, education, women’s issues and economic development – situated within the State Department’s Bureau for Near Eastern Affairs and urged its continuation in the next administration. The briefing was sponsored by the Project on Middle East Democracy.
November 14, 2008 | Read more »
Robert Benjamin, NDI director for Central and Eastern Europe programs, discusses democracy support programs at the Institute and beyond during a panel discussion in Budapest.
November 2008 | Read more »
Sophia Moestrup, NDI senior program manager for Central and West Africa, examines the effects of “semi-presidentialism” on democratization in the region since 1990.
November 2008 | Read more »
NDI president Kenneth Wollack speaks about NDI's work and America's role in global democracy promotion during a visit to the University of Michigan.
October 23, 2008 | Read more »
The Voice of America's Encounter program featured Susan Page, NDI director for southern and east Africa programs, during a discussion of the Zimbabwe power-sharing agreement.
September 21, 2008 | Read more »
At a hearing of the United States Helsinki Commission, Laura Jewett, director of NDI's Eurasia programs, discussed the pending parliamentary elections in Belarus.
September 16, 2008 | Read more »
Colorado Public Radio interviewed NDI Chairman Madeleine K. Albright and former Bosnian President Zlatko Lagumdzija about ILF.
August 26, 2008 | Read more »
Kenneth Wollack and Lorne Craner, the presidents of NDI and IRI respectively, spoke about a paper, New Directions in Democracy Promotion, which makes the case for America’s continuing engagement in democracy programs abroad and the opportunities and challenges that presents for the next administration. The two also discussed the paper Aug. 10 on C-SPAN's Washington Journal.
August 12, 2008 | Read more »
Human Rights: the Basis for Inclusiveness, Transparency, Accountability, and Public Confidence in Elections
Election programs director Patrick Merloe discusses human rights and democratic elections in a chapter of a new book for the American Bar Association.
July 9, 2008 | Read more »
At a conference in Abuja, Nigeria, Christopher Fomunyoh, NDI regional director for central and west Africa, discusses advances in democratization in Africa and the many challenges remaining.
June 2008 | Read more »
Appearing on Voice of America’s Focus radio program, Kristin Haffert, NDI’s director of women’s political participation programs, weighs in on the state of women in leadership worldwide.
June 26, 2008 | Read more »
In an op-ed in the New York Times, NDI Chairman Madeleine Albright looks ahead to the future of cross-border interventions following the United States' experience in Iraq.
June 11, 2008 | Read more »
NDI President Kenneth Wollack participates in a panel hosted by the American Academy of Diplomacy, along with Amb. Barbara Bodine, Amb. Edwin Corr and IRI President Lorne Craner.
April 28, 2008 | Watch»
Technology program manager Ian Schuler writes about text messaging in election-monitoring efforts.
Spring 2008 | Read more »
In an opinion piece in the Los Angeles Times, NDI Chairman Madeleine Albright discusses the challenges faced by democracy in the world as of 2008.
January 8, 2008 | Read more »
NDI President Kenneth Wollack writes about democracy promotion and U.S. foreign policy for the Northwestern Law Review.
2008 | Read more »
Kenneth Wollack Remarks: The W. Averell Harriman Democracy Award and Madeleine K. Albright Grant Luncheon
NDI President Kenneth Wollack speaks at the 2007 Democracy Luncheon.
October 24, 2007 | Read more »
Speaking at Georgetown University, NDI President Kenneth Wollack outlines the challenges facing Latin America.
April 10, 2007 | Read more »
NDI President Kenneth Wollack speaks to the Committee on Foreign Affairs about the challenges faced by Nigeria following the April 2007 national elections.
June 7, 2007 | Read more »
Elections Program Director Patrick Merloe speaks to the United States Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe about the role of the OSCE’s Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights in advancing the OSCE’s Human Dimension.
May 17, 2006 | Read more »
NDI Chairman Madeleine Albright writes about the complexities of the situations in Iraq and Iran in an opinion piece in the Financial Times.
March 23, 2006 | Read more »
Elections Program Director Patrick Merloe speaks to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom about Bangladesh's January 2007 elections.
October 17, 2006 | Read more »
Writing in The Washington Post, NDI Chairman Madeleine Albright s argues for the continued importance of supporting democracy in the Middle East.
May 8, 2006 | Read more »
Addressing guests at the 2006 Madeleine K. Albright Grant Luncheon, NDI President Kenneth Wollack speaks about the Win With Women global initiative.
May 1, 2006 | Read more »
Elections Program Director Patrick Merloe speaks to the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe about the troubled contitions in Belarus leading up to its March 2006 presidential election.
March 9, 2006 | Read more »
NDI President Kenneth Wollack speaks before the House International Relations Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs about democratic advancements and challenges in Latin America.
March 9, 2005 | Read more »
In a statement to the Committee on International Relations, NDI President Kenneth Wollack discusses political reform in the Arab and Muslim world.
May 4, 2005 | Read more »
NDI President Kenneth Wollack discusses NDI's work in women's participation worldwide speaking at the 2005 Win With Women Luncheon.
May 4, 2005 | Read more »
Speaking at the African Statesman Initiative Symposium Opening Ceremony, NDI President Kenneth Wollack discusses opportunities for democratic change in Africa.
June 6, 2005 | Read more »
Patrick Merloe Remarks: Supplemental Human Dimension Meeting of the 55 OSCE Participating States, Vienna, July 15-16, 2004, Session I
Elections Program Director Patrick Merloe speaks at the July 15-16 meeting of the OSCE participating states.
July 15-16, 2004 | Read more »
Addressing the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, Elections Program Director Patrick Merloe argues for the importance of protecting religious rights during the campaign against terrorism.
November 27, 2001 | Read more »
Elections Program Director Patrick Merloe speaks at the opening of the OSCE Human Dimension Seminar on Election Processes.
May 29-31, 2001 | Read more »
Speaking to the Committee on International Relations, Elections Program Director Patrick Merloe discusses the 2001 elections in Peru.
March 14, 2001 | Read more »
Elections Program Director Patrick Merloe speaks to the Committee on International Relations about the troubled June 2000 Parliamentary elections in Zimbabwe.
June 13, 2000 | Read more »